Friends, family remembering Heavenly Mountain Resort ski patroller missing in Mount Rainier National Park
Family and friends are remembering a local ski patroller who went missing while skiing in Mount Rainier National Park earlier this month.
Dmitri Pajitnov (known as Dima) went missing on July 3 after falling through a snow bridge on Mount Rainier near Pebble Creek, according to a GoFundMe post. Those details were reaffirmed in a July 7 press release from Mount Rainier National Park, which did not identify the missing skier at the time.
Pajitnov was a member of ski patrol at Heavenly Mountain Resort and, prior to enrolling in medical school, a technician in the emergency department at Barton Hospital.
On Mount Rainier Pajitnov’s ski partner observed the fall and searched for two hours using an avalanche probe and transceiver before descending to Paradise and reporting the incident, according to the press release.
A team consisting of 20 National Park Service (NPS) employees and a guide from Rainier Mountaineering Incorporated searched for Pajitnov that day until it became dark.
Rangers on scene estimated 3 to 5 feet of snow covered the creek in the search area, according to the press release. Rangers also stated that conditions were dangerous due to unstable snow.
Photos taken during the search on July 3 show a large amount of water flowing through the hole in the snow where Pajitnov was reported to have fallen.
Search efforts continued that week, and on July 7 NPS advised several independent search parties that their safety could be at risk if they entered the area.
“We offer our condolences to the family and friends of the missing skier,” Randy King, the park’s superintendent, said in a statement. “From the outpouring of concern, he was obviously much loved. What would compound this tragedy would be the loss of another life. For this reason we advise against private efforts to continue the search.”
Consultation with professional rescue personnel and among friends led to the “painful conclusion that Dima’s chance of survival under the current conditions was minimal,” the GoFundMe post states. Still, friends would like to bring his body home for a proper funeral.
Friends were invited to gather at a memorial service Tuesday evening — after press deadline — in South Lake Tahoe.
The GoFundMe post goes on to state the the group plans on making weekly trips to conduct limited searches as conditions allow. Pilots will be conducting regular fly-overs in the area where Pajitnov is believed to be located.
“Given the current weather conditions and limited resources, we welcome any assistance whether through private search parties, paid services, park officials, the media, or other sources that can help us locate our friend. Any volunteers familiar with the terrain will be greatly appreciated.”
The group says it is working with NPS to be able to use drones and recovery dog teams, neither of which are freely permitted in the park.
According to a website created to celebrate Pajitnov’s life and keep his legacy alive, the 30-year-old was a first-year medical student at St. George’s University, an avid back-country skier, a seven-time Burner, an amateur lumberjack, and an incredible brother, son, cousin and friend.
People are invited to visit the website and share their own memories of Pajitnov.