Snowshoers rescued near Castle Peak | SierraSun.com
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Snowshoers rescued near Castle Peak

John A. Bayless, Sierra Sun

Two snowshoers who lost their way on a hike in the Castle Peak area were rescued last week by a California Highway Patrol Helicopter, after spending the night on the north side of Basin Peak.

Deputy Ron Smith of the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office said the two were part of a group of 12 people who left South Lake Tahoe Jan. 12 and intended to hike into the Castle Peak area and spend the night at the Peter Grubb Hut, then snowshoe out the next day.

“The reporting party last saw them at his residence at 10:30 a.m. that morning,” Smith said. He said the couple decided to go ahead and begin their hike and meet the reporting part and the other members of the group at the hut that afternoon.

When the reporting party, Eric Richter, arrived at the trailhead, he saw the vehicle belonging to 39-year-old Mel Chaney and 34-year-old Rana Chaney, and assumed they were ahead of him on the trail.

“He had contact with them via two-way radio at 3:30 p.m., and they indicated that they were about 100 yards from the hut, but had veered off the trail,” Smith said. “He tried to direct them up the pass to get them into the hut.”

Smith said the two victims apparently got lost in the drainage area of Little Castle Creek, which is extremely rugged terrain. The rest of the party searched for them during the night and then hiked straight out the next day to report the Chaneys were missing.

“The victims’ car was still at the trailhead, so they reported them missing to ski patrol at Boreal, and they called NCSO,” Smith said.

CHP’s helicopter, H-20, responded to the area and began to search for the missing couple, Smith said. U.S. Forest Service employees who were in the area doing forest maintenance also assisted in the search, and NCSO’s Search and Rescue officers were on standby at the trailhead.

Smith said a snowmobiler who came out at the trailhead reported that he had spoken with the Chaneys at about 9 a.m. Jan. 13, and had given them directions back to the road. They were in the Warren Lake area, several miles from the Grubb Hut.

The helicopter was directed into that location, and a short while later found the couple, who were in good health but fatigued from a night of hiking in rough country.

Smith said they walked until after midnight in an attempt to locate the Grubb Hut, then made a snow shelter under a tree and camped out until morning. He said they had all the necessary supplies to camp out overnight except for a shelter, so they fashioned a snow shelter under a tree and built a fire.

“They knew when to stop and knew what to do to keep sheltered,” Smith said. “They had more than adequate equipment.”

He said the Chaneys were relatively well prepared and in good physical condition, but NCSO made the search and rescue operation high priority because of incoming bad weather.

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