Local searchers join major effort to find Shasta climbers

Jackson County searchers are joining the effort to find a man and woman lost climbing Mount Shasta over the weekend.

Sheriff's Lt. Pat Rowland, who oversees the county's search and rescue team, said 10 people and five vehicles headed to California this morning to search roads around the mountain. Jackson County's mobile communication center and a team to oversee the search headquarters overnight plan to travel to Weed today, he said.

The search for Patricia Dolores Giamoni, of Apex, N.C., and her friend Salvador Cervantes Frias, 41, of Tracy, Calif., started at about 9:30 p.m. Saturday, the Siskiyou County Sheriff's Department reported.

The California Highway Patrol got a 9-1-1 call from a man reporting that he was on top of Mount Shasta and needed help, but his cell phone cut off and authorities couldn't call him back, the Siskiyou County Sheriff's Department said in a news release today. At about 9:55 p.m. Frank Machado called the sheriff's department from North Carolina to report that his mother, Giamoni, had called him and said she and Frias needed help after high winds came up on the mountain. She provided a latitude coordinate, but the call failed before she could relay the longitude.

Searchers found the hikers' car at the Bunny Flat Trailhead on the Shasta-Trinity National Forest. Crews and a highway patrol helicopter searched until darkness fell Saturday.

The search resumed at 6 a.m. Sunday and continued through the day and night with teams from the Siskiyou County Sheriff's Office, Shasta-Trinity National Forest, California Highway Patrol and California Air National Guard. The Forest Service estimated 120 climbers were exploring Mount Shasta and had all been told to keep an eye out for the missing hikers.

Overnight, an Air National Guard Blackhawk helicopter from Mather Air Force Base, Calif., with infrared and night vision technology searched and the Siskiyou County Sheriff's Search and Rescue Posse stood watch at trailheads on the north and west side of the mountain, the Forest Service reported.

At 6 a.m. today, full search operations resumed with two Air National Guard Blackhawk helicopters and two California Highway Patrol helicopters. A Blackhawk helicopter dropped four U.S. Forest Service climbing rangers and four Siskiyou County searchers near the summit to search in crevasses and snow banks at 13,000 feet and above.

— Anita Burke

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