Missing skier in avalanche area

December 20, 1984
Mt. Waterman, San Gabriel Mtns

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By Jim Fairchild

RMRU received a call for assistance from Sierra Madre Mountain Rescue Team regarding a skier from Mammoth Lakes missing from the Mt. Waterman Ski Lift area.

PROBE SEARCH - RMRU members search for a missing skier from the Mt. Waterman Ski Area, using avalanche probes. (photo by Jim Fairchild)Four of us were able to respond, Ray Hussey, Cameron Robbins, Craig Beasley, and the writer.

After a slow drive along icy roads north of Los Angeles, in Ray's roomy Suburban, we arrived at base camp, at the bottom of the ski lift. The scenario was that the skier had been descending with his partner near the lift, and simply disappeared into the storm clouds. The ski patrol had crisscrossed the area during the night and found no trace.

Upon being transported up the chair-lift we donned snowshoes and were handed twelve-foot-long conduit rods. We were to probe the snow for a body. We snowshoed over and down to the fall-line in question, and proceeded, upon command at regular intervals, to "probe, lift, step, probe, lift, step." As we searched the word came over our HandiTalkie that the skier had returned to base camp, in good shape. Jubilant, we hurried down in a great sliding snowshoe romp. He had indeed become disoriented and descended the canyon mentioned above, spent a cold night far below, then ascended back to base. Enough said.