Skier found after four days in the woods

SNOQUALMIE PASS - A four-day search by a party of about 60 people found a missing skier alive but hypothermic near Alpental on Jan. 4.

Dan Witkowski, 25, of Ellensburg was reported lost on Jan. 31 when he did not show up to meet friends. A self-described extreme skier, Witkowski was known to ride the chair lifts to the top and ski down unmarked routes, according to King County Sheriff's Office officials.

Not having a solid departure point, as Witkowski was skiing alone, was one of several factors making the four-day search difficult.

On Jan. 1, heavy snowfall restricted the use of a helicopter in the search. That night a frozen layer of snow increased the chances of avalanche, requiring searchers to cut the day short, sheriff's office officials said.

Subsequent searches were unsuccessful, but things changed late Sunday, Jan. 4, when a team of rescuers found Witkowski and had him airlifted to Harborview Medical Center where he was listed in serious condition as of the Valley Record's press time.

King County Sheriff's Office officials said Witkowski was skiing on Dec. 31 when he got disoriented. Not knowing where to ski, officials said, Witkowski decided to head downhill. He had no food and only had the clothes he was wearing, officials said. Witkowski spent his days walking in an attempt to stay warm.

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