Hopes dim for missing snowboarders
CREEDE, Colorado ” Hopes dimmed Thursday for two snowboarders missing since last weekend amid brutal weather in the southwestern Colorado mountains, but their families pleaded with officials to keep searching.
Michael George and Kyle Kerschen, both 27 and both from Albuquerque, N.M., were reported missing on Saturday near the Wolf Creek ski resort about 170 miles southwest of Denver.
In an e-mail to media outlets, the men’s families acknowledged the weather has been bad and added, “We implore county and state agencies from both states to please continue the effort of finding our loved ones.”
On Thursday, skies cleared and the winds were calm, and authorities said two helicopters and searchers on skis were looking for the men.
Mineral County sheriff’s spokeswoman Sandy Kroll said she did not know how many searchers were out but said the number had diminished by afternoon because some were fatigued.
Kroll said she didn’t know how much longer the search would continue.
George and Kerschen were reported missing on Saturday near the Wolf Creek ski resort about 170 miles southwest of Denver.
“We’re into the sixth day, and (for) somebody who’s not prepared for the elements, it’s not a good situation,” Sheriff Fred Hosselkus said.
George’s mother, Laura George, has said the men were unprepared for cold nights in the open.
A weekend storm dropped more than 4 feet of snow in the area, and high winds kept the helicopters grounded on Wednesday.
“All the factors involved, the snow that came in those days, the wind, nothing was working for them,” Hosselkus said of the missing men.
The storm left up to 10,000 customers without power, closed roads and heightened the danger of avalanches.
Road crews closed highways over six mountain passes on Wednesday to clear away snow that could trigger avalanches.
Conditions were so bad that the state Division of Wildlife decided to put out emergency feed for deer, bighorn sheep and other big game in southwest Colorado’s Gunnison Basin, fearing the cold and snow were sapping their energy.
The last time wildlife officers fed big game in the Gunnison area was 1997. Last year, they fed deer and pronghorns amid blizzards in southeastern Colorado.