2 N.M. snowboarders alive; two still missing in Colo. | VailDaily.com

2 N.M. snowboarders alive; two still missing in Colo.

SANTA FE, N.M. – Two snowboarders missing near the Santa Fe ski area made cell phone contact with searchers Tuesday, but crews were still looking for two other people who disappeared while snowboarding in southern Colorado.

Crews aboard two New Mexico National Guard helicopters and a state police helicopter were scanning New Mexico’s Sangre de Cristo Mountains for Adam Putnam and his fiancee, Rachel Fehl, both 36. They had not been seen since Saturday afternoon.

“We know that we’re close because the snowboarders were on the phone with dispatch and they could hear the helicopters overhead,” said state police Lt. Rick Anglada.

The pair reporting having problems with their feet and legs, Anglada said.

Putnam and Fehl got lost outside the ski area’s boundary, authorities said.

Searchers also heard from the couple on Sunday night when they provided a general elevation reading from their altimeter and reported they had built a snow cave to stay in overnight.

Anglada said the weather was clear Tuesday after whiteout conditions on Monday.

Putnam and Fehl recently moved to Albuquerque after Putnam completed medical school, apparently in Pennsylvania, and took a job at Lovelace Hospital as an emergency room physician.

Putnam’s father, Steve Putnam, said his son has “done all kinds of avalanche survival training” and is experienced in winter camping.

In Colorado, Michael George and Kyle Kerschen, 27-year-old roommates from Albuquerque, were missing near the Wolf Creek Ski Area.

George’s mother, Laura George, said the men “really weren’t prepared for anything like this.”

“My son has been hiking and fishing, but he’s never been tested like this,” she said.

Laura George said the pair probably didn’t have much food or water but she was optimistic her son knew how to shelter himself from harsh weather.

The search was slowed Monday by the threat of avalanches, strong wind and snowfall.

“With the wind and everything, we really don’t have much to work with,” Mineral County Sheriff Fred Hosselkus said. He said the area has received more than 4 feet of snow in the past three days, leaving rescuers to search for any sign ” a glove, a pole, a hat.

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