Search Continues For Skier Missing From Whitefish Mountain

Feb 20, 2018

Search and rescue teams are still looking for a man who went missing Saturday night after skiing into the backcountry outside of Whitefish Mountain Resort. The Flathead County Sheriff’s Office is coordinating the multi-agency search for 62-year-old Jonathan Torgerson of Columbia Falls.

Torgerson, a physician at North Valley Hospital in Whitefish, was reported overdue Saturday night after skiing alone just before a storm moved in carrying strong wind gusts and a foot of snow. He was believed to be skiing out-of-bounds in the Canyon Creek area off of Flower Point.

David Steele was skiing in the same area as Torgerson Saturday afternoon and volunteered to search for him Monday.

"We essentially moved downhill," says Steele, "checking tree wells, looking for a beacon signal, trying to see if there was a ski poking out of something, et cetera."

Steele says the ongoing search is in a popular destination for backcountry skiers, and that it’s not unusual for skiers to drop out of bounds on their own.

"The community culture in the Flathead tends towards being very familiar with the Canyon Creek area, and ultimately that leads to people letting their guard down somewhat in terms of the risks they’re willing to accept, because they’re exposed to them so frequently," Steele says.

The Flathead County Sheriff’s Office says Torgerson's family told searchers he was wearing an avalanche transceiver, but they had not picked up a signal.

North Valley and Flathead County Search and Rescue organizations, Two Bear Air Rescue, A.L.E.R.T., Flathead Nordic Backcountry Patrol and volunteers are participating in the search.