Snow Closes Cal Freeway; Hunt Continues For Missing Skiers And Hiker

A winter storm hit California Monday, closing a 40-mile stretch of a main highway but causing no major accidents. Meanwhile, crews planned to resume the search for two missing skiers near Lake Tahoe and a woman who never returned from a hike on a Riverside County mountain.

The Grapevine section of Interstate 5, which passes through the Tehachapi Mountains about 65 miles north of downtown Los Angeles,
was closed shortly after midnight because snow and ice made the
road treacherous, officials said.

At one point, blowing snow reduced visibility to zero.

A day earlier, up to 10 inches of snow fell on Yosemite National Park.

Plows were unable to keep up and two out of three main roads into the park were closed Sunday afternoon.

Some ski resorts reported up to a couple feet of new snow over the weekend.

Meanwhile, search efforts were expected to resume at daybreak for Patrick Frost, 35, and Christopher Gerwig, 32, both of San Francisco.

The men, described as expert skiers, were last seen Saturday morning at the Alpine Meadows ski resort just north of Lake Tahoe.

"I would say if they sought shelter, and they're not wet and not caught in an avalanche zone, then their chances are good," Placer County sheriff's Sgt. John Giovannini said.

In Southern California, officials planned to begin clearing a rock slide that blocked Mt. Wilson road in the Angeles National Forest.

Hugh boulders crashed onto the roadway northeast of Los Angeles on Sunday.

Also in Southern California, 53-year-old Ellen Coleman of Riverside was reported missing Sunday, possibly on the east face of Mount San Jacinto.

Coleman took a tramway to about the 8,500-foot level on the mountain and had planned to hike to the 10,800-foot summit, the Riverside County Sheriff's Department said.

About 20 miles east of where the woman was hiking, two Marine Corps sergeants were rescued Sunday after slipping several hundred
yards from an ice-encrusted trail below the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway.

Around dawn, crews helped Marine Sgt. Lance Chatagier, 26, out of the treacherous ice and cliffs where had fallen Saturday evening.

Volunteers stayed all day with Marine Sgt. Lucas Ellison, 26, who fell into a more perilous spot below the frozen, unmaintained trail. Rescuers using crampons, ice axes and ropes eventually carried him up to the tramway's upper station.

Chatagier and Ellison, both of Twentynine Palms, used a cell phone to call for help after they lost their footing about 7 p.m. Saturday, authorities said.


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