MOUNT HOOD, Ore. (KGW) — Search crews were looking for an Aloha man who was reported missing on Tuesday night after he didn’t return home from a snowboarding trip to Mt. Hood Meadows, the Hood River County Sheriff’s Office (HRCSO) reported Wednesday morning.
The girlfriend of the missing snowboarder, identified as 30-year-old Ryan Mather, reported her boyfriend missing at around 9:30 p.m. Tuesday. Search crews found Mather’s vehicle at Mt. Hood Meadows and began an overnight search, which was unsuccessful.
Crews redoubled the search on Wednesday in areas around the Shooting Star Express chair lift, Mather’s last reported location from late Tuesday morning. Crews also searched some back country areas in that area.
“Conditions right now are good for searching, but the concern is a high risk of avalanche this afternoon as it warms up,” said Hood River County Sheriff Matt English on Wednesday. “We’re supposed to see quite a bit of warming. It was ideal this morning to get crews into the high-risk areas but the high-risk areas are high-probability areas.”
Multiple search agencies were participating in the search, including HRCSO, the Hood River Crag Rats, Pacific Northwest Search and Rescue, Mt. Hood Meadows Ski Patrol, Portland Mountain Rescue, Corvallis Mountain Rescue, Lane County Sheriff’s Office, Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office and the Oregon Air National Guard.
English said that there were 14 teams assigned to the search on Wednesday, as well as a Lakota helicopter crew from the National Guard.
“We’re keeping all possibilities open at this point but it’s certainly within the realm of possibility he got off track,” the sheriff continued, “because there’s a lot of back country, they’re saying hundreds of acres of search area, heavily treed, obviously difficult to see — it’s easy to lose your bearings.”
Mather’s family was getting regular updates on the search from HRCSO staff, English said.
Craig Diehl was out skiing at Mt. Hood Meadows on Wednesday and witnessed some of the search efforts.
“It’s unlike any other year where I’ve seen searchers, I’ve never seen so many total searchers there,” Diehl said. “You can see the helicopter running grids up and down looking at it, hopefully they’ll find something.”
Diehl said that the area is very prone to slides, and there was an area on the mountain where a slide came down just a few weeks ago. There’s always a risk of getting caught on the slopes due to slides and other dangers.
“If you’re prepared, you can stay the night if you’re injured — you just have to know how to shelter and hope someone comes to find you,” Diehl said. “I hope for a good outcome, let’s hope that individual can make it through this.”
By Wednesday evening, HRCSO had concluded the day’s search efforts without finding Mather. The agency said that it would renew the operation on Thursday, using skiers on the black diamond and double black diamond areas around Heather Canyon and the Private Reserve.
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