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Two students safe after going missing outside Bridger Bowl

By Katherine Mozzone, KTVM Reporter, kmozzone@ktvm.com
Published On: Feb 02 2013 07:48:52 PM MST
Updated On: Feb 03 2013 05:01:57 PM MST
BOZEMAN, Mont. -

Deputies with the Gallatin County Sheriff's Office say two students are safe after a skier and snowboarder went missing outside Bridger Bowl boundaries.

They say the pair made it back to the Bridger Bowl base area around 10:30 Saturday evening and no medical attention was needed.

The late teens, early twenties man and woman skier and snowboarder were in an out-of-bounds ski area off Bradley Meadows, known as Wolverine.  It's an un-patroled ski area riders can access from the Alpine Lift on the north side of Bridger Bowl.

Gallatin County Sheriff's Deputies say the two ended up in the area by accident and, once at the bottom, riders must walk out.

We talked to folks with the Gallatin County Sheriff's Office at around 8:45p.  They say they were looking to send out a helicopter to try to locate the students due to dropping temperatures and the fact the wind was blowing away the pair's tracks.

They tell us ski patrol called them at around 5:30 or 6:00p.  Friends got in touch with patrolers after the two failed to show up for their ride back to town.

That's when folks with the Sheriff's office took action- putting the helicopter on stand-by and organizing a search effort with Bridger Bowl Ski Patrol.

Deputies say they were advised not to send out a search and rescue posse due to the location of the pair and the waist deep snow, which they say is making it tough for the snowboarder to navigate.

"Bridger Bowl Ski Patrol has four individuals out there, two of them are following the tracks of the two missing skiers and two others are along the boundaries calling for them to see if we can't get a location on them," says Gallatin County Deputy Sheriff Brandon Kelly.

The Gallatin County Sheriff's Office say the fact friends recognized right away something wasn't right and alerted Ski Patrol meant they were able to quickly organize resources to search for the students.

On Sunday, NBC Montana checked in with Bridger Bowl Ski Patrol on back country safety.

Patrol Director Doug Richmond said it's important back-country enthusiasts know the area, have the proper gear and are prepared in case a powder run turns into an overnight stay.

"All these things take a lifetime to get good at, and it takes observation, it takes planning" he said. "You need to have people back home that know where you went, you need to have the proper gear, you need to realize that you may be stuck with an extended stay out there."

Richmond said the two skiers were lucky they weren't stuck overnight- high winds and rough conditions made it hard to locate them, and they were in avalanche terrain.