Search for skiers continues as sun goes down
February 3, 2008
An estimated 40 searchers continued to comb the terrain around Alpine Meadows ski resort Sunday evening, searching for two San Francisco skiers who have been missing since Saturday afternoon.
Officials have turned up no leads and fear that Patrick Frost, 35, and Christopher Gerwig, 32, are facing another night of freezing temperatures and stiff winds in the rugged backcountry near the ski area.
Their car still sits in the resort’s parking lot, and their skis are gone. The last time they were seen was reportedly in the ski lodge’s bar asking directions on where to go to ski steep terrain at the resort.
“We want aircraft in here,” said Placer County Sheriff dispatcher Rolando Garcia. “We’ve been trying all day to get aircraft in here.”
Officials hope to summon aircraft to the search area early Monday morning if weather allows.
But snowy and windy conditions have kept the search to the ground. Searchers have fanned out over terrain both inbounds at Alpine Meadows and outside of the ski area.
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Placer County sheriff’s Sgt. Allan Carter called the two men expert skiers. Because of that, Carter called the skiers’ chances of survival “pretty good.”
“If you keep moving and have a positive attitude and know how to construct a snow shelter, you can survive,” he said.
The ground search, however, has also been hampered by dangerous avalanche conditions, Garcia said.
The severity of the danger was illustrated when a snow slide covered the main road to the ski resort and barreled into a home near the road, damaging it.
Melissa Siig, a Alpine Meadows resident who lives near where the avalanche hit, said Alpine Meadows ski patrol called her house early Sunday morning to alert homeowners that they were doing avalanche control along the road.
The call warned her “don’t even think about going outside or leaving the house,” she said.
Later, she saw the “enormous” slide that covered the road.
“You can’t even tell it’s a road,” she said.