Members of the Nevada County Sheriff’s Search & Rescue team ended up rescuing five people from two different groups in the Castle Pass area during the weekend snowstorm.
As they worked to find four lost hikers and then a missing skier through Friday night and into Saturday morning, said volunteer coordinator Del Clement, they had to turn a number of people back who were trying to set out in dangerous conditions.
“It was just too nasty,” Clement said, adding that sheets of ice under the new snow-pack is currently posing a very high avalanche danger.
The team initially was called out at about 11:15 p.m. Friday to rescue four hikers who had become lost trying to get to the Peter Grubb Hut, off the Pacific Crest Trail, Clement said.
“They had called 911 so we had the coordinates of where they had holed up,” he wrote on the team’s Facebook page. “They indicated they had shelter and had a fire going and would stay put. It was snowing heavily at this time, with strong winds. We based our command post at Boreal Ski Area and dispatched the snow cat to see if it could get close to them and bring them back. Due to the terrain and snow conditions, the snow cat could not get close enough for them to hear it.
“We then assembled four snowshoe teams and carried them by snow cat, as close to their location as it could get,” Clement said. “They were finally located about 4 a.m. and brought out, all in good condition.”
On the way up the trail, at about 2 a.m. Saturday, the team ran into a group of three skiers who told them they had been searching for a member of their party, who was lost.
“There was a party of eight, all from the Bay Area, who were going to meet and go up to the Peter Grubb hut,” Clement said.
The missing man — who was traveling with his 30-pound dog — apparently got there early and decided to get a head start. When three members of the party arrived, they reached him by phone and then began the trek to join him, Clement said.
At about 11 p.m., they reached him by phone, and he said he was lost, was going to hunker down till daylight and then find his way out.
They had tried to locate him but found the snow conditions quite hazardous and abandoned their effort, Clement said.
When the trio ran into the search and rescue team, they described the missing skier as a “mountaineer” who probably would be fine overnight.
“We felt we couldn’t leave him out there,” Clement said. “We had no idea where he was, so we prepared for a blind search.”
Sometime during the early hours Saturday, the missing skier responded by text to his friends, who encouraged him to call 911 for help.
“When he did, we were able to talk to him and got his coordinates and advised him to stay put until we came for him,” Clement said.
A team of snowshoers and a snowmobile team were dispatched; the snowmobile team got to the Castle Pass area, then snowshoed to the man’s location.
“We finally got to him around 7:30 a.m.,” Clement said, adding that the man and his dog both were in good condition when found.
While all of those rescued had proper clothing, none had maps or GPS with which to navigate, Clement said.
“Don’t go into the backcountry in heavy stormy conditions or late in the day,” he said.
“Never go in alone. Always have a map of the area and have and know how to use a GPS to navigate.”
To contact City Editor Liz Kellar, email email@example.com or call 530-477-4229.