Out of boundary boarders calling out the rescuers
Skiing and boarding out-of-bounds appear to have no boundaries.
With the lure of fresh powder, a spate of search-and-rescue calls have surfaced from county to county around Lake Tahoe in the last week or so.
A 22-year-old Clayton, Calif., man became lost early last week after snowboarding off Sugar-N-Spice Run at Sierra-at-Tahoe Snowsport Resort. He was found nearly eight hours later by search-and-rescue crews, an El Dorado County sheriff’s deputy said.
Mark Rogelstad agreed to meet friend Louis Gernhart at their vehicle after Gernhart broke his snowboard at about 12:30 p.m. on Dec. 16. Rogelstad never appeared, and a search-and-rescue tone was sounded at 6:30 p.m.
A deputy said Rogelstad told his rescuers he knew he was out-of-bounds about 15 minutes after he got off the run. He walked in chest-deep snow while following Aspen Creek, certain that the drainage would lead to a road, the deputy added.
About an hour after he became lost, the wet and exhausted Rogelstad made a snow cave and waited for help. He heard a whistle from search and rescue and was found at 8:10 p.m., the deputy said.
Rogelstad said he didn’t intend to go out-of-bounds. Sierra-at-Tahoe officials said there was a sign about 20 yards from where Rogelstad left the trail.
He was not cited.
A separated father and son team at Mott Canyon on Dec. 21 was found safe and sound before a Douglas County search and rescue unit was forced to go out.
“We’re kept pretty busy in the winter. It’s pretty common at Heavenly,” said Sgt. Joe Duffy of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Department. The unit averages up to three calls a month.
El Dorado County sheriff’s SAR averages about 50 calls a year, Deputy Terry Fleck said. The unit has counted 45 this year, with the bulk of the calls in the summer, with winter a close second. Fatalities are rare.
Rescues on average cost between $1,000 and $5,000. It is up to the courts if the expense is passed on to the person who was lost. Air support carries the most expensive reimbursement costs, which can run as high as $10,000.
Some people end up settling with the sheriff’s department and ski resort on a payment plan.
“We have one woman paying $50 for the next 10 years,” Fleck said.