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3 SNOWBOARDERS FOUND, AIRLIFTED.

Byline: Staff and Wire Services

ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST - Three lost snowboarders were rescued early Thursday from a canyon south of the Mountain High ski area after placing a 911 call for help from a cell phone, a fire official said.

The snowboarders reported themselves missing at 11:10 p.m. Thursday after they went outside the ski area boundaries and down the steep south face of the 8,200-foot-tall ridge on which the resort is located, fire and resort officials said.

A Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department search and rescue team, along with Fire Department rescuers, located the snowboarders just past midnight using thermal imaging devices, then airlifted them off the mountain, said os Angeles County Fire Department Inspector Mike McCormick.

The snowboarders, found at an elevation of 5,500 feet, were cold but uninjured, he said.

``They went home on their own. They were just really cold,'' McCormick said.

Mountain High officials said it is dangerous to go outside the ski area boundaries. The usual offenders are snowboarders, who overestimate their ability to climb their way back to the ski area.

Mountain High officials said the three were lost in the deepest snow anyone can remember in recent history. The ski area got nine feet of snow in six days through Wednesday, burying ski patrol huts and ski-lift shacks.

Drifts are 12 to 15 feet deep on the top of Blue Ridge, Mountain High spokesman John McColly said.

This is the most snow Mountain High has received at one time, including in the El Nino season of 1997-98, McColly said.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Feb 25, 2005
Words:261
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