Early season snows can make hiking resorts enticing. In fact, most of us do it out of habit. But an early season session near Mt. Baker Ski area apparently went sideways this weekend as two snowboarders are missing in the resort’s general vicinity (resort officials think the snowboarders may have skirted the resort boundary). The duo– identified as Drew Lenz, 20. and Jacob Amancio, 22–were reported missing by their roommate on Sunday around 4 p.m. when they didn’t return home and they haven’t been seen since. Their car was found at the Heather Meadows parking lot.
Surrounded by the Mt. Baker Wilderness with 10,781-foot Mt. Baker looming over the resort, by any standards, Mt. Baker Ski Area borders some serious big-mountain terrain.
Gwyn Howat, the resort’s vice president, confirmed to deputies that the missing men’s car was at the Heather Meadows parking area. Workers are preparing Mt. Baker for opening this Thursday and resort employees apparently did a transceiver search for the two men and continue to help with the search in any way they can. The resort has directed further questions to the Whatcom County Search and Rescue which didn’t immediately return calls.
Mt. Baker, near Washington’s border with Canada in the northwestern part of the state, has received a substantial amount of snow compared to the rest of the region. “It’s quite different there than most everywhere else, especially over the last three days,” Kenny Kramer, avalanche meteorologist for the Northwest Avalanche Center told The Inertia. “Mt. Baker has been in a pattern with a really strong southwest flow from the Olympics to Mt. Baker. The northwest corner of Washington is getting hammered. And the central and southern Cascades are hardly getting much at all. It’s quite a huge difference to points further south.”
The weather has been nasty since the men were reported missing. The resort received six inches overnight, 15-20 inches were expected today with another 22-28 inches possible through midday Wednesday with a winter storm warning in affect. Rescue efforts are expected to be extremely hampered. Not a trace has been found of the snowboarders but avalanches could definitely be a factor in their dissapearance, according to Kramer, even though no avalanche activity has been reported. “They had 50-80 mile-per-hour winds, it’s full storm conditions, so absolutely it could be a factor,” Kramer said.
Acording people on the ground, local authorites are in full search mode with no real clues where the two headed, checking different access points to roads in the area while covering as much terrain as is deemed safe.
This story was upated with the missing snowboarders’ names along with the new theory that they may have skirted the resort’s boundaries.