A search and rescue team located a missing snowboarder early Sunday morning at Hurricane Ridge who was last seen Saturday afternoon taking the intermediate rope tow to the top of Sunrise. He was found in good condition after spending the night in temperatures ranging in the low thirties. He sustained minor injuries and after being given food and water he was able to snowshoe back up to the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center with assistance from the team.
The 30-year old male from Brooklyn, NY was reported missing by his girlfriend at 4:30 pm on Saturday after he did not return from snowboarding. Park rangers and employees of the Hurricane Ridge Winter Sports Club searched for three hours before it became too dangerous to continue due to the dark and foggy conditions. A team of more than 30 people were organized to continue the search the following morning. The opening of Hurricane Ridge Road on Sunday morning was delayed until 10:00 am to facilitate the search and rescue operation.
National Park Rangers were assisted in the search by the Hurricane Ridge Winter Sports Club Ski Patrol, Olympic Mountain Rescue, Tacoma Mountain Rescue, Kitsap County Search Dogs, and King County Ski Patrol Rescue Team (SPART). A Navy helicopter from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island was also en route to assist with the search when the snowboarder was located.
The National Park Service extends a special thank you to all of the volunteer search and rescue organizations for their partnership and dedication to saving lives through rescue and mountain safety education. The total number of search and rescue incidents in Olympic National Park for 2019 is 84.
Skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing are popular winter recreation activities at Hurricane Ridge. Opportunities for cross-country skiers and snowshoers range from open, level meadows near the visitor center to extreme terrain in the wilderness backcountry. For safety reasons, anyone skiing or snowshoeing beyond the immediate Hurricane Ridge area are encouraged to sign-in at the registration box in the foyer of the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center. All those venturing outside the ski area should be prepared for steep terrain and the possibility of avalanches. Hurricane Ridge is subject to extreme winter conditions, including sudden storms, white-outs and avalanches, making planning and preparation for winter conditions vitally important. Severe weather, icy or snowy roads, changing snow conditions, and winter rains can quickly alter any winter trip. Visitors traveling to the park should be prepared for winter driving conditions.
Visitors are urged to plan ahead, pack the Ten Essentials, and have an emergency plan even for a day trip. Familiarity with basic wilderness first aid, is encouraged. Before every visit, check the weather forecast and current road conditions and be prepared for changing weather conditions.
Up-to-date information about weather and avalanche risk is available from the Northwest Avalanche Center on the web at nwac.us or by calling 206-526-6677. Anyone planning to venture beyond the maintained downhill ski area or the immediate Hurricane Ridge area should always check with the Northwest Avalanche Center or at the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center for current conditions.
Weather permitting; the Hurricane Ridge Road is scheduled to be open Friday through Sunday and some holidays (January 1 and 20, February 17) through March 29, 2020. The road is also scheduled to be open daily from Thursday, December 26 through January 1. Weather permitting, Hurricane Ridge Road usually opens at 9:00 a.m., but times vary according to road and weather conditions. The road closes to uphill traffic at 4:00 p.m. and all vehicles must exit the Heart O’ the Hills entrance station by 5:00 p.m.
Winter storms can close or delay opening of the Hurricane Ridge Road; high winds and blizzard conditions are not uncommon. Road and weather condition updates are available on the Road and Weather Hotline at (360) 565-3131 or by following @HRWinterAccess on Twitter.
All vehicles, including four-wheel drive, are required to carry tire chains when traveling above the Heart O’ the Hills entrance station during the winter season.
More information about visiting Hurricane Ridge and other areas of Olympic National Park in the winter is available at nps.gov/olym/planyourvisit/visiting-in-winter.htm.