A fresh layer of snow blanketed Sugar Bowl Resort Tuesday as a team of 40 searchers fought through the cold and the wind for a fifth day.
It was a fight against the elements and against time, but crews believed there was still a chance Carson May was alive.
"At this point, we're hoping for the best but preparing for the worst outcome of this," said Sgt. Dave Hunt with the Placer County Sheriff's Office.
At 4 p.m. Tuesday, the Placer County Sheriff's Office suspended search efforts indefinitely.
With the weather too severe for helicopters to help in the search, Tuesday's effort focused on looking through the trees along a route the ski instructor may have taken before he went missing without a trace Thursday.
May's friends are searching on their own. They told FOX40 off camera they believe he's capable of beating the odds.
"Been thinking about it all day, since we got here and saw the sheriff's department and the search and rescue teams, we knew they were still looking," said skier Ken Lane.
Lane's son is Carson's age and also works at Sugar Bowl. He struggles to imagine the stress and fear the young man's parents are going through.
"Can't imagine, apart from a faith in God, how you would deal with something like this, and even then, the anxiety in the morning is unimaginable. It's hard to put yourself in their shoes," Lane said.
It's also hard to understand how a young man could survive out there for six days in bitter cold and heavy snow.
"Survivability in these conditions, every day that goes by becomes more minimal, and today is the sixth day that he's been missing," Hunt said.
Hunt said May had been working at Sugar Bowl for three years, he's an expert skier and knows the mountain extremely well.
But even an expert can run into trouble on the slopes.
"I've been doing this for 20-plus years and still can happen to anyone, anytime," said snowboarder John Herley.
Now the search effort is over, with no clues and plenty of concerns.
"Pray for his family and hope there's resolution soon," said Lane.
Anyone with information is still urged to contact the Placer County Sheriff's Office.