TNSAR Search 1/4/2004

Avalanche victim near Castle Peak

TNSAR was called on the evening of 3 January to assist with the Search and Recovery of an avalanche victim, caught in a slide on January 1st between Castle Peak and the Peter Grubb Hut at about 8400 feet. The accident had not been reported until the afternoon of January 3rd due to the difficulties the other skier who was with the victim was having in getting out of the area due to the storm conditions. The other skier had spent January 1st and 2nd at the Peter Grubb Hut alone, and was assisted in contacting the authorities on 3 January by a pair of people on snow shoes who had hiked in that day. The Search was being conducted by Nevada County Sheriff's Department in association with National Forest representatives.

TNSAR met at 8:00am 4 January with members of other local Search and Rescue organizations. The Search was difficult since there was no obvious avalanche path; in the time between the avalanche actually occurring and this search, at least 2 feet of snow had fallen and unknown amounts of wind blown snow had been deposited in the area. Ski Patrollers and their dogs from Squaw Valley USA had searched the area and found a backpack and mitten on 3 January. After allowing for more time for the dogs to search once again on 4 January, TNSAR organized a fine probe search of the area where the victim's pack was found. This effort went on for 4 hours to no avail, before the search was called off due to evening approaching. As an indication of how much snow was in this area, much of the time the 10 foot long probes were not even hitting the ground during this search. The search zone was approximately 50 feet wide and 150 feet long on a slope of less than 30 degrees which was directly below a corniced ridge.

Here are a few pictures from the first day of searching.

The search was continued on 5 January; the body of the missing skier was found on this day in the late morning by TNSAR, against a tree under about 4 feet of snow. We have two pictures from this day.

More details will be posted here as necessary.

Sheriff Dispatch Comm Van Skiers Jan 4 Skiers Jan 5 Snow Cats
Bert Houser Dee Dee Driller John Chilcote
JeffS Smith
Scott Edmondson
Roman Fail
Mark Johnson
Mike Kennett
Sarah Lagano
Dave Olsen
Jeff Reiger
Jim Rienstra
Dirk Schoonmaker
Randy Sharp
Peter Sporleder
Russ Viehmann
Peter York
Duncan Davis
Sue Duerksen
Mike Le Francois
Bert Grunwald
Bernie Mellor
Randall Osterhuber
Jeff Reiger
Derek Wilson
Ray O'Brien
Scoop Remenih
Larry Sevinson
Dave Gleske