Two skiers missing at Lake Tahoe
February 4, 2008
SAN FRANCISCO – Fresh snow added to the pressure on rescuers hoping Monday to find two skiers who have been lost near Lake Tahoe through two nights of plunging temperatures.
Patrick Frost, 35, and Christopher Gerwig, 32, both of San Francisco, were reported missing Saturday night at the Alpine Meadows resort just north of Lake Tahoe, said Placer County sheriff’s Sgt. Allan Carter.
Frost and Gerwig, described as expert skiers, had last been seen Saturday morning at a resort bar listening to advice about different outlying areas to ski. During the night, the area had temperatures in the 20s, high wind and heavy snow.
“I would say if they sought shelter, and they’re not wet and not caught in an avalanche zone, then their chances are good,” Placer County sheriff’s Sgt. John Giovannini said.
In Southern California, meanwhile, rescuers searched for 53-year-old Ellen Coleman of Riverside, who was reported missing Sunday, possibly on the east face of Mount San Jacinto. Coleman rode a tramway to roughly 8,500 feet elevation, and intended to try to hike to the summit, around 10,800 feet, according to the Riverside County sheriff’s department.
Carter said rescuers looking for Frost and Gerwig were searching a wide area that included the back side of Alpine Meadows on the west side of the Sierra crest outside the ski resort’s boundaries.
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“Skiers sometimes get to the top of the crest and say the backside looks great and they go down it. Then they can’t get back up,” he said.
Carter called the skiers’ chances of survival “pretty good” as about 15 members of the Alpine Meadows’ ski patrol joined a 10-member sheriff’s Nordic team in the search for the skiers.
“If you keep moving and have a positive attitude and know how to construct a snow shelter, you can survive,” he said.
Alpine Meadows was closed Sunday because a 12-foot-deep avalanche triggered by an avalanche-control crew covered its main entrance road, Carter said. No one was trapped or injured by the avalanche.
Residents of Southern California braced themselves for the worst of another winter storm predicted to soak lowland areas and coat the mountains with snow.
Overnight, snow was so heavy that a section of Interstate 5, which passes through the Tehachapi Mountains about 65 miles north of downtown Los Angeles, was closed shortly after midnight because snow and ice made the road treacherous, officials said.