ALPINE COUNTY —
A CHP helicopter rescued two snowmobilers from the Ebbetts Pass area on Sunday after the men became stranded in the deep snow and were forced to spend the night out in the elements.
On Saturday afternoon, three friends decided to enjoy the fresh powder on their snowmobiles in the Ebetts Pass area. The three men had never been in the area before, and rode around the main area until about 4 p.m. when they decided to explore down the canyon.
Zachary Bradgon, 24, and Joshua Seidel, 24, left their friend behind and told him they would be back soon, according to the CHP. Bradgon and Seidel rode into the canyon, where the snow was deeper than they expected. The pair became stuck in the deep powder several times.
Eventually, Bradgon got stuck so bad he abandoned his snowmobile to search for Seidel, the CHP said. They both had “Family Radio System” handheld communicators and were able to stay in contact with each other. Bradgon was able to catch up with Seidel, who was also stuck. As they tried to dig out his vehicle, it became dark.
Although the pair had proper clothing and equipment, they were limited on food and water, the CHP said. The two prepared for an overnight stay in the wilderness.
The men found a tree-well created by the snow and dug down to the ground. They found dried wood and built a fire. They didn’t have a way to call for help so they stayed put until morning.
The friend who had stayed behind was able to make it back to the cars, but didn’t have keys, the CHP said. He was able to flag down a passing vehicle and got a ride to Markleeville to get help.
The Alpine County Sheriff’s Office launched a search and rescue mission and called for a CHP helicopter early Dec. 27.
The helicopter flew to the area of Ebbetts Pass and began the search. The helicopter crew was able to dial into the handheld communicators and made contact with the stranded men.
The pair was medically sound and in good spirits, according to the CHP.
The helicopter was not able to land, so they directed ground crews to the area and helped them recover their snowmobiles and get them back to the parking lot.