Thursday Mar 04 2010
Missing Sierra snowshoer survived two days in snow cave
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
28-year-old became separated from group but did the right thing: Snowshoe expert
Cold and hungry but alive and well, a lost Tahoe City snowshoer was found by searchers Thursday two days after going missing near Castle Peak near Donner Summit. Waving a blanket, Kevin Davis, 28, was spotted by an Air National Guard helicopter search team a third of a mile from the spot he was last seen. He had gone missing shortly before 3 p.m. Tuesday. Davis showed signs of hypothermia but was in relatively good condition, Nevada County Sheriff Keith Royal said. Davis was verry hungry after his ordeal, Royal added. Davis was taken by California Highway Patrol helicopter to Tahoe Forest Hospital in Truckee shortly after being found at 12:25 p.m. Davis had done the smart thing and built a survival snow cave, said Tate Abdon of snowshoeing equipment supplier Black Bear Outdoors in Loomis. The lost snowshoer was found outside the cave he had built. “Snowshoeing is hugely safe but it’s like anything – you have to be safe by being prepared,” Abdon said. “You wouldn’t want to drive down the road without a seatbelt. But if you do get lost or separated, you need to try to make yourself found.” A key piece of safety equipment for Abdon is a portable shovel to dig out a snow cave that can provide shelter and 20 degrees more heat than outside temperatures. Davis also stayed close to the place where he was last seen. He was walking with his group back from lodgings at Peter Grub hut to their vehicles when he vanished. “The biggest thing as soon as you’re lost is to sit,” Abdon said. “They can’t track you through the snow if it’s falling.” Davis was with four others who had been cross-country skiing and snowshoeing on the front end of a storm that would eventually dump more than a foot of snow in some areas. Whiteout conditions Wednesday hampered search efforts but Thursday was clear and aided the air search. In all 80 people took part in the search and rescue operation. There were four snowcats and seven snowmobiles on the ground and two helicopters in the air.