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Contact: Barb Maynes, 360-565-3005
A skier who became disoriented near Hurricane Ridge during yesterday afternoon’s blizzard conditions is awaiting rescue after spending last night in a snow cave.
Randy Kraxberger, a 53 year old Port Townsend man, made cell phone contact with rangers at about 8:00 this morning from a site near his snow cave, believed to be on the upper slopes of Hurricane Hill. While cold and almost out of food, Kraxberger was in good condition and able to provide rescuers with some information about his surroundings and probable location.
Rescuers began skiing to Hurricane Hill early this morning and are encountering three to four feet of deep powder snow, high winds and very poor visibility. Seven rescuers are currently en route to Kraxberger's probable location.
Kraxberger became disoriented in blizzard conditions while skiing near Hurricane Hill yesterday afternoon. He was briefly able to make phone contact late yesterday with park rangers before the call was dropped.
Rescuers searched last night until about midnight, primarily along the Hurricane Hill Road, using whistles, lights and sirens in attempt to attract Kraxberger to safety. Two rescuers tried to ski beyond the road’s end onto the Hurricane Hill Route, but were turned back due to blizzard conditions and hazardous avalanche conditions on the slopes.
Avalanche danger is rated as high today and remains a major concern for rescuers and support personnel. Several slides have crossed the Hurricane Ridge Road and have been observed elsewhere in the area as well.
In addition to about a dozen park rangers, volunteers from Bremerton-based Olympic Mountain Rescue and employees of the Hurricane Ridge Winter Sports Club are participating in the search and rescue effort.
The winter route to Hurricane Hill is divided into two sections, the moderately difficult Hurricane Hill Road which follows the paved roadway and the advanced Hurricane Hill Route which ascends to the summit of Hurricane Hill via an ungroomed, unmarked route.
Link to the Bugler, the park's winter newspaper, including a map of the Hurricane Ridge winter use area including the Hurricane Hill Road and Hurricane Hill Route.