Share

Missing Hikers Update: Air Search Planned for Two Washington Hikers After Heavy Rain

Gene Johnson
Published: October 3, 2013

iWitness weather user: rima

Snow fell on Mt. Shuksan in western Washington this weekend after an early-season snowstorm. It was the same snowstorm several hikers were caught in over the weekend. (iWitness Weather/rima)

SEATTLE -- Search and rescue officials say improving weather in the forecast should allow them to search from the air for a man and a woman missing in separate, remote areas of southwest Washington.

Another day of ground searching Wednesday failed to find Kristopher Zitzewitz, 31, of Portland, Ore., Skamania County Undersheriff Dave Cox said. The man was last seen Saturday in the Big Lava Beds area of Gifford Pinchot National Forest, southwest of 12,280-foot Mount Adams.

Search leaders were also trying to locate Alejandra Wilson, 23, who failed to check in by phone with her father Monday. She has been hiking the Pacific Coast Trail.

(MORE: Snowfall Forecast Map)

The search for Wilson depends on aircraft, and Wednesday's weather precluded an air search, Cox said. A Coast Guard helicopter tried to reach the Zitzewitz search area but was forced to turn back.

Two other hikers, Matt Margiotta and Kyla Arnold, were hoisted aboard a Coast Guard helicopter Tuesday evening from the Pacific Crest Trail where it crosses the western flank of Mount Adams. The helicopter rescue came after a group of ground searchers made it to within less than a mile of the couple, only to be stopped by deep snow and failing daylight.

Wilson was believed to be about a day's hike north of where Margiotta and Arnold were found.

Cox said ground searches were being temporarily suspended "to give our search resources an opportunity to regroup and revitalize."

"We will be mounting an extensive air search in the morning," he said Wednesday evening. "We are anticipating renewing the extensive ground search efforts, if needed, on Saturday morning for Kristopher and Alejandra."

Wilson's father, Dane Wilson of Portland, Ore., last heard from her Friday as she was leaving Trout Lake, a tiny hamlet south of Mount Adams, for White Pass. He reported her overdue after she failed to check in again by Monday, but it wasn't clear whether she needed any assistance.

(MORE: Climber Makes an Incredible Find)

Margiotta, Arnold and Wilson were all hiking the length of the Pacific Crest Trail, which runs 2,650 miles from Mexico to the Canadian border, and kept online journals of their travels.

In an update Friday, Arnold mentioned having run into Wilson. She also described having nearly run out of food after heavy rains forced her and Margiotta to huddle under a tarp for four days last week - long delaying their arrival in Trout Lake.

"We finally made it to Trout Lake today and another huge storm is rolling in," Arnold wrote. "Everyone says we can't make it because of the weather situation, and to be honest it's quite terrifying, but I can't fathom coming this far and giving up."

The Yakima County Sheriff's Office search and rescue team was on standby to provide assistance as needed, Sgt. George Town said Wednesday. He noted that it isn't uncommon for late-season Pacific Crest Trail arrivals to run into snow and sometimes need help, but the hikers are usually well experienced and prepared after more than 2,000 miles on foot.

"They get a fair amount of experience between Mexico and here," he said. "They're adept, generally speaking, but this was a pretty good early snowfall."

Wilson was apparently far enough north that she would be out of cellphone range, unlike Margiotta and Arnold, who managed to call for help Monday and give rescuers their coordinates, Town said.

MORE: The World's Tallest Mountains

The Himalayan mountain range of Annapurna and Mount Machhapuchre rises behind the tree line in the popular tourist destination of Pokhara on Oct. 13 2010. (Prakash Mathema/AFP/Getty Images)


Featured Blogs

NO WHITE CHRISTMAS FOR EASTERN U.S.

By Dr. Jeff Masters
December 21, 2014

No Snow in the eastern US this week - much colder Temps going into New Years...

November 2014 Global Weather Extremes Summary

By Christopher C. Burt
December 18, 2014

November was globally the 7th warmest such on record according to NOAA and 8th according to NASA (see Jeff Master’s blog for more about this). It was a cold month in the U.S. with some phenomenal lake-effect snowstorms. A powerful storm, dubbed a ‘Medicane’ formed in the Mediterranean Sea. Deadly floods occurred in Morocco, Italy, and Switzerland. It was the warmest November on record for Australia, Italy, Austria and much of Southeast Asia.Below are some of the month’s highlights.

Live Blog: Tracking Hurricane Arthur as it Approaches North Carolina Coast

By Shaun Tanner
July 3, 2014

This is a live blog set up to provide the latest coverage on Hurricane Arthur as it threatens the North Carolina Coast. Check back often to see what the latest is with Arthur. The most recent updates are at the top.

Tropical Terminology

By Stu Ostro
June 30, 2014

Here is some basic, fundamental terminology related to tropical cyclones. Rather than a comprehensive and/or technical glossary, this represents the essence of the meaning & importance of some key, frequently used terms.

2013-14 - An Interesting Winter From A to Z

By Tom Niziol
May 15, 2014

It was a very interesting winter across a good part of the nation from the Rockies through the Plains to the Northeast. Let's break down the most significant winter storms on a month by month basis.

What the 5th IPCC Assessment Doesn't Include

By Angela Fritz
September 27, 2013

Melting permafrost has the potential to release an additional 1.5 trillion tons of carbon into the atmosphere, and could increase our global average temperature by 1.5°F in addition to our day-to-day human emissions. However, this effect is not included in the IPCC report issued Friday morning, which means the estimates of how Earth's climate will change are likely on the conservative side.