SISTERS, Ore. - Four backcountry skiers from Washington state became lost in the Three Sisters Wilderness Thursday afternoon, prompting a call-out of Deschutes County Sheriff's Search and Rescue to help them reach safety, a deputy said Friday.
Deschutes County 911 dispatchers received a call around 3:10 p.m. from the group, who were part of a larger group skiing the Hayden Glacier, on the northeast flank of Middle Sisters, said Deputy Liam Klatt, assistant SAR coordinator.
They were identified as Inga Rouches, 51, of Fall City, and three Snoqualmie residents – Dag Stai, 47, Sharon Stai, 46, and a 16-year-old boy, Katt said.
The lost skiers became separated from the main group as they descended to the Pole Creek Trailhead, where their car was parked. Members of the group were unfamiliar with the area and asked for help, Klatt said.
GPS coordinates from the 911 call placed them less than a quarter-mile away from Forest Service Road 1526. Klatt said SAR personnel asked the group to move to the road and said Forest Service patrol deputies would pick them up.
However, cellphone contact with the group was lost as they descended, Klatt said. They managed to cross the 1526 road and continued descending to Forest Service Road 1514 at the Whychus Creek bridge crossing.
Intermittent cellphone reception allowed for brief communication with SAR crews. The group was located at 6:20 p.m. and brought back to their car, and were "tired after a longer than intended hike out, but aside from a few blisters were uninjured," Klatt said. They were grateful for the ride back to their car, he added.
The sheriff's office noted the group was properly equipped for the conditions and did not delay their call for help once they realized they needed it.
"Their decision to call 911 early greatly simplified the search efforts and contributed to a positive outcome," Klatt added.