Searchers hunt for missing skiers at Alpine Meadows
A search continued Sunday for two missing skiers who last were seen at Alpine Meadows resort during a storm that dumped up to 2 1/2 feet of snow.
Patrick Frost, 35, and Christopher Gerwig, 32, both of San Francisco, spent a stormy night outside after being reported missing Saturday evening at the resort, and more snow was falling Sunday, said Placer County sheriff’s Sgt. Allan Carter.
Officials have turned up no leads, and nightfall forced search crews to suspend their efforts, leaving the men to face another night of freezing temperatures and stiff winds in the rugged backcountry.
Frost and Gerwig, both described as expert skiers, last were seen late Saturday morning at a resort bar listening to advice about different outlying areas to ski. Their car still sits in the resort’s parking lot, and their skis are gone.
While authorities were unsure where they went, Carter said rescuers were searching a wide area that included the backside of Alpine Meadows on the west side of the Sierra crest outside the ski resort’s boundaries.
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, though a night of heavy snows had covered the skiers’ tracks.
Officials hope to summon aircraft to the search area early this morning if weather allows.
But snowy and windy conditions have kept the search to the ground. An estimated 40 searchers have fanned out over terrain.
The ground search, however, has been hampered by dangerous avalanche conditions, said Placer County sheriff’s dispatcher Rolando Garcia.
The ski resort was closed Sunday after a 12-foot-deep slide triggered by an avalanche-control crew blocked the main entrance road to the resort and barreled into a nearby home, damaging it. No one was trapped or injured.
Elsewhere around Lake Tahoe, avalanche-control efforts Sunday forced the closure of Highway 88 over Carson Pass. Kirkwood Mountain Resort shut down because there was no way for skiers to get to the resort because of the closed roads, officials said.
Interstate 80 over Donner Summit reopened Sunday morning after being closed overnight because of zero visibility and heavy snow. Highway 50 was closed over Echo Summit overnight until about 7 a.m.
Snow drifts and poor visibility also were blamed for the closure of portions of Highway 395 in Mono County, according to the California Highway Patrol.
South of Reno, Highway 395 in Washoe Valley was closed for several hours Sunday morning after about 20 crashes occurred during periods of zero visibility, said Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Scott Simon.
– AP writer Martin Griffith in Reno, the Tahoe Daily Tribune and the Sierra Sun contributed to this report.
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