TNSAR Search 19/02/2004

2 young snowboard girls at Northstar

Two sisters Brittany and Nicole were on vacation snowboarding at Northstar with their family. They had been skiing at Diamond Peak for two days, and were skiing at Northstar on this day. At 11:00am the girls were allowed to go on their own, to meet back at the mid mountain at 1:00pm for lunch. They clearly took a wrong turn and ended up near the bottom of the Lookout chair. Just west of the base of the chair, they were on foot on the 900 road when one of them dropped her snowboard over the bank. Their attempt to retrieve the board resulted in getting them stuck below the steep bank, in deep snow which thwarted their attempts to climb back up. They then boarded and postholed down, and up and back down again the wooded slope for 3.5 km until eventually ending up on a network of new logging roads above the Lahontan subdivision.

The Tahoe Nordic Search and Rescue Team was paged about 8:00 pm. We called out A Skiers, snowmobiles, and snowcats to the search. Snowcat operator Scoop left from the team garage in Tahoe City to run the 06 road in order to cut off a Western boundary. Snowmobiler Steve Hoyt ran up the 06 road from Truckee to complete that loop. Team skiers met at Northstar and were briefed by PCSO and Northstar Patrol. The excellent turnout allowed formation of 6 ski teams for thorough coverage of the entire ski area boundary. Northstar loaded up all the top-mountain teams in their people mover snowcat trailer (an 8x10 flat bed trailer with a 4 high steel cage) and drove those skiers to the top. The lower perimeter teams left from the day lodge area and began their routes.

After about one hour on the snow, at 10:00pm, team 5 on the 900 road found small snowboard boot tracks on the road, which then dropped into the woods. The tracks were initially quite confusing due to the girls efforts to climb back to the road, which resulted in numerous sets of tracks, both up and down hill. Some of these tracks may have actually topped out on the road, it was hard to say. After following the track for a couple of hundred meters, they became more coherent, and it was clear that this was the girls. The team on track called in their GPS position and direction of travel. Other Nordic teams and Northstar patrol then bracketed the area from above and below.

About 11:00pm, Dan (Northstar Patrol) on a snowmobile reported that he was following tracks on the Lahontan logging roads; shortly after he located the girls. Nordic Team 5 met up with them and assisted in getting the girls into warm dry clothes and fed them hot chocolate and candy bars. The girls were cold, shivering, and exhausted. They talked very little. They complained of cold hands, and were slow to take any assistance. Dan then rode them out to meet a Truckee Police unit for transport to the hospital, where they were warmed up, checked out and released.

P.S. The girls snowboards were recovered on Sunday, and are being mailed back to them.

Sheriff Dispatch Comm Van Truck Skiers Snow Cats Snowmobiles
Bill Walton
Dave Hunt
Terri Viehman
Jackie Thomas
Kelli Twomey
John Pang Steve Twomey
Jonathan Laine
Ron Driller
Jim Granger
Gerald Rockwell
Joe Pace
Sarah Lagano
Bernie Mellor
Dave Olsen
Bob Wright
Mark Johnson
Brian York
Paul Honeywell
Bill Wise
Scoop Remenih
Dave Gleske
Steve Hoyt