** Latest Update from Lake County Office of Emergency Management as of 6 p.m. Janary 5 **
“The Search and rescue operation seeking 2 skiiers near Uncle Bud’s Hut near Torquoise lake has ended. The youth has been taken off the mountain and reunited with his family. The adult, Brett Beasley, was treated for hypothermia but did not survive. Our condolences to the friends and family of Brett Beasley. Please allow the family time to deal with this very sad situation.”
** Initial Story Posted Jan 5 1 p.m. **
Search Initiated For Two Skiers Lost Near Turquoise
By Kathy Bedell © Leadville Today
The first major snow storm of the season in Leadville has also led to the first Lake County Search and Rescue mission. An active search has been issued for two cross-country skiers reported missing near Turquoise Lake late Wednesday, Jan. 4 as a powerful winter storm continues to pummel the Colorado high country.
The skiers had set their sites on the popular Turquoise Lake area, located 5 miles west of Leadville for a day of cross country skiing while the rest of the group, all from Salida, Colo. opted for some alpine turns at a nearby ski resort. When the other members of their group returned late Wednesday afternoon and realized that the two cross-country skiers had not returned, an alert went out to local authorities and a search and rescue mission was initiated by Lake County Emergency Manager Mike McHargue.
According to family friend Kris Ellisor in an exclusive interview with Leadville Today, the missing skiers are 47-year-old Brett Beasley of Salida and a 14-year-old male, the son of prominent Salida physician Dr Joel Schaler of the First Street Family Health. Beasley is an employee of the United States Forest Service in Salida.
Beasley is skilled and trained not only in outdoor survival but is extremely familiar with the trails and area near and around Turquoise Lake.
According to Lake County Public Information Officer (PIO) Betty Benson Search and Rescue crews from Summit County and Chaffee County are actively involved at this time, with crews from the US Forest Service standing by as more information about backcountry safety conditions is ascertained, for a particularly meaningful rescue of a colleague.
“A group of people, including Dr Schaler and his son went up for a ski trip to a cabin near Leadville,” stated Ellisor, who called the Leadville Today news room to provide information that could prove helpful in the rescue. “The last that they heard anything from these two was yesterday (Jan. 4) morning at about 11 a.m.”
As word reached Salida friends at dawn this morning that the two were missing, groups with snowmobiles mobilized and headed up towards Leadville. However, PIO Benson is cautioning people NOT to conduct their own searches as backcountry avalanche conditions are dangerous and ever changing under the present conditions, which include a winter storm warning in effect until early Friday morning.
Weather in the area for today has been reported as snowy, high near 17. Wind chill values between -5 and 5. West northwest wind 10 to 15 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%. Total daytime snow accumulation of 4 to 8 inches possible. Tonight’s forecast calls for more snow, mainly before midnight. Low around -9. Wind chill values between -15 and -20. North wind around 5 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New snow accumulation of 1 to 2 inches possible.
Ellisor also relayed reports from people with the group that the two missing skiers were prepared for back country conditions and were traveling with beacons as well. Anyone with information about this rescue is encouraged to call the Lake County Sheriff’s office at 719-486-1249.