Update 3:42 p.m.: Rescued skiers huddled in snow caves to survive (w/video) | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Update 3:42 p.m.: Rescued skiers huddled in snow caves to survive (w/video)

David Bunker and Julie Brown, Sierra Sun
Emma Garrard/Sierra Sun

Two San Francisco skiers have been rescued from the terrain west of Alpine Meadows ski resort after surviving two nights of frigid temperatures and snowy conditions.

A Placer County Sheriff helicopter spotted the two men ” Patrick Frost, 35, and Christopher Gerwig, 32 ” at 10:30 a.m. Monday as they were heading toward Hell Hole Reservoir, which is several miles west of Alpine Meadows, said Placer County Sheriff Sgt. Allan Carter.

The helicopter landed at the reservoir and rescued the skiers, he said. It then flew the men to the Auburn airport, where the men were driven to Sutter Auburn Faith hospital, said Carter.

“It’s great to find these guys alive,” said Carter.

Both skiers were in good condition, he said.

The pair suffered “really minor, minor” frostbite after being exposed to the weather for two days, said hospital spokeswoman Janice Davis.

“Condition is good, and we’re happy for it,” Davis said. “They just want to get home. We’re just trying to get them food and get them what they need. … They looked good. They were hungry, cold ” they ate well.”

The duo built a snow cave to wait out the storm, officials said.

“They just made snow caves and cuddled for warmth,” Placer Sheriff’s Lt. Jeff Ausnow said. “They said they kind of got their knowledge of building snow caves from the Discovery channel. They had a couple Power Bars they rationed out and ate. They melted snow in a plastic baggie one of them had in his pocket from a sandwich or something. That was it.”

The two men had only their ski equipment and jackets for the trip, Ausnow said.

The pair was declining interviews, said Davis.

But Chris Gerwig’s brother, Brian Gerwig, was at Alpine Meadows ski resort after hearing the news of his brother’s rescue.

“My little brother lost and in trouble is not a fun thing to think about,” said Brian Gerwig.

Gerwig said his brother was an experienced backcountry skier, who lived in Big Sky, Montana for 8 years.

The two skiers had been roommates in San Francisco, Gerwig said. Frost was engaged to be married, he said.

“I couldn’t imagine what his fiancee was going through,” said Gerwig.

The search effort for his brother amazed him, he said.

“The effort is truly amazing, and if I ever get a chance to talk to any of them, I’d give them a big hug,” said Gerwig.

The two helicopters and nearly 25 skiers involved in the search were heading off the mountain Monday, Carter said.

“I can’t tell you how happy we are,” said Alpine Meadows Spokeswoman Rachael Woods. “This is about as great as it can get.”

The search, which had been hampered by avalanche danger, winds and snow, finally kicked into high gear Monday morning, under blue skies.

“Hopefully [we’ll get] three helicopters so we can just scour the area,” said Placer County Sheriff’s Carter, earlier Monday morning.

The ground search, which included Tahoe Nordic Search and Rescue skiers and Alpine Meadows Ski Patrol ” had been searching an enormous area including the backside and both edges of the resort.

“The snow erased all the tracks,” said Carter, leaving the search without any starting point.

” The Associated Press contributed to this report

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