Skiers rescued after more than 18 hours lost

Posted By: The Ski Channel on February 22, 2010 9:18 am

Coming out of WCAX News in Vermont, Andy Potter reports:

“Separate groups of skiers and snowboarders were rescued from Mount Mansfield this weekend after they strayed off the trail.

Stowe Mountain Rescue brought out a group of four skiers from Massachusetts Saturday night and went back for four more before dawn Sunday. More than 18 hours after setting off down a ski trail this was the end of the run–on a game warden snowmobile. Rescuers from the Stowe Mountain team and Essex Rescue joined the effort.

Officials say the group of skiers and snowbaorders was at Stowe — on the other side of the mountain — and accidentally went down the wrong side onto the western slope. “We had a group of four searchers that started out at four o’clock this morning that went up Mount Mansfield so that they were available at first light to go and try to locate the subjects, which they did,” said Neil Van Dyke of Stowe Mountain Rescue.

An ambulance stood by where each rescued skier would get a medical checkup and warm up. Meanwhile, more were coming off the mountain. “We brought snowshoes in for them and they walked them down the Underhill side of the mountain. We’ve had some help from the game wardens today, once we got down low where they could bring them out by snowmobile,” Van Dyke said.

None of the skiers or riders wanted to talk about their ordeal, but everyone was reported to be ok, other than some cold toes. Rescuers say fewer skiers have gotten lost this year than usual. But several rescue teams remain ready to go on short notice. “It’s not uncommon for this to happen,” said Van Dyke. “But typically it’s for people who don’t know the area and it’s their first time. And it’s very easy to get disoriented on the top of the mountain.”

A few years ago the Vermont legislature passed a law allowing rescue organizations to charge the people they rescue to recover expenses. But Stowe Mountain Rescue says it doesn’t normally charge anything out of concern that people may not report incidents of people missing on the mountain.”