Two back-country skiers spent a long, cold night in the woods Sunday, December 11, after they got stuck in extremely deep snow in the Lolo Pass area. Missoula County Search and Rescue Chief Joe Blattner says the skiers were expected back by sunset, but never showed up.

"Around 11:00 P.M. or so, our Search and Rescue Coordinator Deputies were able to inform us that there were two adult males in the Lolo Pass area that were reported as overdue from a back country ski trip that they had," Blattner said.

Fifteen volunteer Missoula County Search and Rescue members came out to help search, along with two Forest Service officers, three Sheriff’s deputies, and two members of the Five Valleys Back-country Ski Patrol. Two Bear Air was also called to help search from the ski.

"They were around the Crystal Amphitheater area when they encountered some pretty treacherous terrain," Blattner said. "They reported snow that was chest deep and they got a little bit turned around. This search and rescue mission lasted several hours, but the two were prepared for snow conditions with adequate clothing and food and water, which was excellent, there was no medical attention needed."

This was the third Missoula County Search and Rescue mission in just ten days. Blattner says that the number of rescue missions always seems to increase when there is precipitation. He also advises all back-country explorers to be prepared with equipment to deal with potential avalanches.