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Searchers find snowboarders who spent the night lost on Mount Ashland

After a six-hour search of the steep valleys south of Mount Ashland Ski Area on Monday, search-and-rescue teams and the Mount Ashland Ski Patrol located three snowboarders — two from Rogue River and one from Talent — hunkered down in a tree well, unhurt, hungry and with a mild case of hypothermia after spending the night on the slopes.

Tyler Charest, 32, of Talent, and Shawn Beck, 38, and his son Ayden Beck, 15, of Rogue River, were found by search-and-rescue teams on snowshoes, about a mile below the Mount Ashland lodge. According to the ski area Facebook page, they were "in an area downhill of the bathrooms at the USFS campground on the south side of Mt. Ashland."

The lost threesome were found at 12:28 p.m. Monday and taken by Sno-Cat to the lodge to warm up and have some hot food, with their relieved families around them, said Hiram Towle, manager of Mount Ashland Ski Area.

“It was a good outcome, couldn’t have been better,” Towle said. “They survived the cold and snow overnight by being fairly well dressed and staying together.”

The three were reported missing to the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department at 5:15 a.m. Monday, after they didn't come home Sunday from snowboarding. The got about 2 inches of snow overnight from Sunday into Monday, according to the mountain's website. The overnight low as 22 degrees, according to weather.com.

Search teams received the call by 6 a.m. and got to the lodge rapidly Monday morning. Searchers found the snowboarders' vehicle still in the parking lot and located their trail off the ski area, leading to the “Klamath (River) side,” beyond the boundaries of Mt. Ashland, said Sgt. Shawn Richards, of Jackson County Search and Rescue.

The search was conducted by 30 people from Mt. Ashland Ski Patrol and search teams from Jackson, Josephine and Klamath counties on snowshoes, snowmobiles, Sno-Cats, skis and on foot.

“The three were snowboarding down and got to the point where they couldn’t get back up,” Towle said.

Mt. Ashland on its signs, website and literature cautions skiers they must not venture out of ski-area boundaries, but it still happens with some regularity.

“They moved until dark, then hunkered down in a snow cave they made in a tree well,” Richards said. “They were dressed for skiing and had only minor hypothermia. They were quite a ways off the road, in the trees."

John Darling is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Email him at jdarling@jeffnet.org.