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Flagstaff, AZ – On February 3, 2019at approximately 5:00 PM the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office Search and RescueUnit responded to a report of an overdue skier who had left the ski areaboundary at Arizona Snowbowl and entered the Kachina Peaks Wilderness. Theskier, a 16-year-old male from Flagstaff, became separated from his group andthe rest of the group returned to the Arizona Snowbowl where they made thereport to the Arizona Snowbowl Ski Patrol. The skier was reported to beequipped with only his skis and cell phone and no other survival equipment. Atthe time the report was made, it appeared that the skier’s cell phone had beenpowered off or had run out of battery.
The Coconino County Sheriff’sOffice Search and Rescue Unit along with the Arizona Snowbowl Ski Patrolinitiated an investigation and search for the skier. At approximately 5:45 PMthe Sheriff’s Office located the skier on Snowbowl Road at approximatelymilepost 3. The skier was uninjured and was provided a ride to the AgassizLodge to be reunited with his family and friends. While this situation turnedout well, it had the potential to be a dangerous situation for the skier.12.0pt;font-family:"Times New Roman",serif’>
This incident was the third lostout of bounds skier / snowboarder call received by either the Sheriff’s Officeor the Arizona Snowbowl Ski Patrol on Sunday. With the recent snowfall and theexpected heavy snow through mid-week, it is expected that more skiers andsnowboarders may elect to ski out of bounds. Skiing or snowboarding outside ofthe ski area boundary carries with it some risk. The area outside of theArizona Snowbowl boundary is not patrolled and avalanche mitigation is notconducted in the Kachina Peaks Wilderness. Most skiers and snowboarders wholeave the ski area boundary intend to return to the ski area, but terrain tendsto force them to the south and away from the ski area.
Those who recreate outside of theArizona Snowbowl boundary should carry the following equipment; extra food andwater, extra warm clothing, navigation equipment (map, compass, and GPS),headlamp, first aid kit, shelter material (large leaf bag or space blanket),fire starting kit or backpacking stove, pocket knife/multi-tool, whistle,avalanche beacon, avalanche probe, backcountry shovel, and a cell phone with aback-up battery pack. Wilderness users should also avoid traveling alone. Education about the winterbackcountry hazards including avalanche should be sought out. Avalanches oftenoccur within 24 hours of a storm and heavy snowfall amounts over a short periodof time, high winds which deposit snow in starting zones, or signs ofinstability in the snowpack warrant concern in the backcountry. The Kachina Peaks Avalanche Center offers weekly snowpack summaries thathighlight the hazards in the snowpack as well as offer educational classesabout avalanche. More information about the snowpack summary and coursesavailable can be found at www.kachinapeaks.org.12.0pt;font-family:"Times New Roman",serif’>
A free Kachina Peaks WinterBackcountry Permit is required for backcountry travel in the Kachina PeaksWilderness when accessing the Wilderness from Arizona Snowbowl and along theSnowbowl Road at Viet Spring and Friedlein Prairie Road. The permit can beobtained from the U.S. Forest Service and more information about the permit canbe found at https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/coconino/passes-permits/recreation/?cid=fseprd479744.
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