TNSAR Search 18/01/2004

Search for snowshoer at Martis peak

Just before 6pm on January 18 the TNSAR pagers notified team members of a snowshoer lost at Martis Peak. A group of 4 snowshoers and one cross country skier had left the Forest Service Fire Lookout atop Martis Peak at 2pm heading back to the trailhead. The road to Martis Peak had been packed by several weeks of recreationists' use. Shortly after leaving the lookout, the subject veered off the trail with his wife to walk through softer snow. After another short while the wife returned to the trail with the rest of the group. After this, the subject unknowingly veered away from the group and trail, heading into unfamiliar forest. The group arrived at the trailhead about 3:30.

As their concern grew, they spoke with 3 snowmobilers who offered to search the area. As they were scouring the area with the subject's wife, a sheriff deputy was organizing a command post at the Martis Peak Trailhead. TNSAR members soon started flooding in, 16 skiers total arrived, 4 snowmobiles, two snowcats, and the team truck. One of the missing subject's group remarked "It's spectacular"--witnessing the amount of people and equipment involved in the search.

When a group of skiers and team snowmobilers were ready, the 3 "Good Samaritan" snowmobilers led them to the point where the subject and wife had left the trail. She had positively identified the spot, and they had marked it with tape. The two obvious snowshoe tracks had been followed earlier by the 3 snomobiliers for as far as they could. TNSAR skiers now pursued that same line. After a short while the snowshoer’s track disappeared under multiple snowmobilers tracks. Meanwhile additional skiers were being hauled into the field by team snowcats.

While the lead searchers were trying to sort out the direction he might have headed and as the last skiers were being deposited at the "Last Seen Point", radio communication indicated the subject was out of the field and safe. Unsure of which direction to go, he had followed a creek bed which led to Martis Valley. When he gained the flats he headed south to the brightly lit "Northstar Sign" on the East end of Martis Valley on Hwy 267. He tried hitch hiking for awhile, which proved fruitless. He then walked about 2 miles to the Truckee airport along 267, still without being able to get a ride from the many passing vehicles. He contacted authorities at the airport fire station and a vehicle was sent to pick him up.

His adventure proved to be merely an unexpectedly long winter hike--he showed little sign of wear and tear. On the other end, however, the strain of his being lost showed clearly on the members of his party. Natrually they were greatly relieved when he showed up, and were deeply appreciative of the efforts of all involved in searching for him.

Sheriff Dispatch Comm Van Truck Skiers Snow Cats Snowmobiles
Fred Carey Jackie Thomas
Marty Schoonmaker
Steve Harris
Jim Coffey Peter Sporleder
Jim Granger
Bob Wright
Steve Matson
Bernie Mellor
Paul Honeywell
Ron Driller
Dirk Schoonmaker
Steve Twomey
Sarah Lagano
Mike LeFrancois
Mike Kennett
John Pang
Jim Reinstra
Scoop Remenih
Tony Bochene
Larry Sevison
Dave Gleske
Bill Koplin
Scott Baumgardner
Brian Devore