TNSAR Search 01/29/2008

Sugar Bowl 1-29-08

Bradford Lim (Brad) and his three friends were snowboarding at Sugar Bowl on Tuesday, January 29. By three in the afternoon the weather had deteriorated to blizzard conditions, snowing over 2 inches per hour and blowing hard. They became separated on Crowley’s run which descends the ridge North East from Mt. Lincoln towards Roller Pass. The south east side of this run is the ski resort boundary and was marked with a continuous rope line and closed signs.

The Tahoe Nordic Search and Rescue Team was paged by Placer County Sheriff dispatch about 7:00 pm. We called out A Skiers, snowmobiles, and snowcats to stage at the Juda Lodge of Sugarbowl as soon as possible. The team Snowcat responded directly to the Coldstream Canyon access West of Truckee, offloaded and began working up to Horseshoe Bend. Since only one snowmobile responded he could not deploy (minimum of two required). The seven skiers were briefed by PCSO, Sugarbowl Patrol, and the RP’s. Per Sugarbowl patrol the avalanche hazard was high, with slides triggered on all aspects by ski cutting or explosive testing. The snowfall rate of 2” per hour would continue to add to instability. Brian volunteered to remain at the command post and act as team liaison (Operations for ICS).

Based on the weather conditions, time, and point last seen (just up slope from Roller Pass) the skiers decided to commit the entire team to Coldstream/ Emigrant Canyons. Sugarbowl provided snowcat transportation to Roller Pass and dropped the skiers off at 10:12 pm. All seven skiers proceeded together down the “Safe Route” down roller pass to the meadow below. We then split three ways to cut for tracks across the meadow and below. All three teams dropped East and then traversed South in a staggered line until approaching the cliff bands with associated avalanche hazard. No tracks were found.

By this time, 11:45 pm, The snowcat had made it 7 miles up canyon and was within a mile of the ski teams. They set off a parachute flare which lit up the whole valley. The MP Brad had been busy improving his snow cave when he saw the flare. He began moving in that direction when he came across one of our teams down track and began following it. Team 3 had turned back and was skinning up when they met Brad at 12:30 am. Brad was in good condition, well dressed and moving. Teams 3 and 1 then traded GPS coordinates with the snowcat, rendezvoused at 1:00 am and started back to the 76 station in truckee.

Team 2 had looped back to the upper side of the meadow and found Brads track just as he was located. Based on the location of that track, and the routes of the three teams, his track was crossed at least twice without being detected due to the heavy and drifted snow.

By 2:10 am all teams were out of the field and on their way home.

Here is a GPS image of the routes the searchers took that night.

Sheriff Dispatch Comm Van Truck Skiers Snow Cats Snowmobiles Other
Mike Seipert
Tom Orsolini
Terri Viehman
Jackie Thomas
Kathy Chilcote
John Chilcote
Bernie Mellor
Mike LeFrancois
Steve Reynaud
Russ Viehmann
Bob Wright
Steve Twomey
Jeff DeVries
Scoop Remenih
Jimmy Smith
Scott Baumgardner ICS: Brian York