Locals join Shasta search effort

Jackson County searchers headed to California Monday to help look for 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 Monday morning to search roads around the mountain. Jackson County's mobile communication center and a team to oversee the search headquarters overnight planned to travel to Weed later in the day, and he had also called for searchers from Klamath and Josephine counties to help as part of the regional search coordination efforts, he said.

The search for Patricia Dolores Giamoni, 37, of Apex, N.C., and her friend Salvador Cervantes Frias, 41, of Tracy, Calif., continues around the clock, officials said Monday evening.

"We're going down so Siskiyou County searchers can get some sleep," Rowland said.

The search 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 saying 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.

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 in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest. The pair had set out from there for a day climb along the popular Avalanche Gulch route on the south side of the mountain, said Forest Service climbing ranger Eric White. 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.

Sunday night, 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. Monday, 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.

Forest Service officials reported that the search was the third rescue effort on Mount Shasta over the weekend. Saturday a man with snow blindness was found and guided out, then another climber broke his leg and was airlifted to Mercy Medical Center Mount Shasta by a California Highway Patrol helicopter.

Reach reporter Anita Burke at 776-4485, or e-mail aburke@mailtribune.com.

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