Avalanche search continues

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KELLOGG – The search for possible missing skiers continued atop Silver Mountain Wednesday morning after officials were notified by a concerned family member that they hadn’t heard from an individual who was on the mountain during Tuesday’s avalanches.

Silver Mountain released the following statement at 10 a.m. Wednesday morning that read:

“Silver Mountain Resort received a call today at approximately 7:30 a.m. from a concerned family member about a skier they have been unable to contact. This person has been confirmed to be skiing yesterday at Silver during the time of the avalanche. An intense search is currently underway with Silver Mountain Ski Patrol as well as multiple teams and dog units from various agencies. Silver is closed for skiing today to focus all available resources on the search. Further updates will be given as information becomes available.”

Following the confirmed death of two skiers and the safe recovery of five others, Silver Mountain had stated in a news release the day before that “indications are all skiers are now accounted for.”

Skiers were caught in an avalanche that occurred on Wardner Peak around 11 a.m. on Tuesday morning.

The specific run where it occurred, 16-to-1, had been just recently opened after crews from Silver Mountain had done avalanche control blasting in the area.

The search and rescue operation had been initially conducted jointly between Silver Mountain officials, the Shoshone County Sheriff’s Office, Shoshone County Volunteer Search and Rescue, the Coeur d’Alene Fire Department K-9 Team, and the Idaho Department of Lands.

As the operation carried over into Wednesday, several other agencies and organizations have joined the effort.

Shoshone County Sheriff Mike Gunderson stated in a press conference Wednesday night that there were over 80 people involved with the search.

Rescue efforts have included multi-person ground searches with dogs and probes. Starting with the high-debris areas first, teams have used a grid system to cover the terrain and search for survivors.

Air support has absent due to heavy, low-sitting fog covering the mountainous region and the unavailability of resources.

With no results as of Wednesday night, search teams plan to hit the peak again Thursday morning.

At the time of the avalanche, the Silver Valley (along with St. Regis, Mont.) was under a “high” avalanche danger rating from the Idaho Panhandle Avalanche Center due to the rapid loading of new snow and wind slabs over buried persistent weak layers. These conditions are expected to stay elevated through mid week.

As of press time, the identities of the deceased and/or the missing individual have not been released, pending next-of-kin notifications.

This is a developing story and more information will be added as it is released.

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