A longtime Flathead Valley physician has been identified as the skier who went missing in the snowy backcountry near Whitefish Mountain Resort ski area on Saturday.
The missing man has been identified as Dr. Jonathan Scott Torgerson, 62, of Columbia Falls, according to Flathead County Sheriff Chuck Curry.
Search efforts were still underway Monday afternoon, although there has been no sign of Torgerson since he was reported missing at approximately 7:15 p.m. on Saturday after not returning from a backcountry ski trip.
Torgerson was reported to have been skiing alone in the Flower Point area of Whitefish Mountain Resort. Curry said that information provided to his office indicated that Torgerson intended to ski out of bounds to the northeast of the ski area boundary. A search was initiated Saturday evening by members of the North Valley and Flathead Search and Rescue units with no results.
The weekend's winter storm hampered searchers, Curry said, and the search was suspended for a few hours before it resumed Sunday. Two Bear Air Rescue, the Nordic Ski Patrol and the Flathead Valley Avalanche Center participated as well. High winds and reduced visibility hampered efforts Monday, and the helicopter had to suspend its search at one point.
"Numerous other volunteers offered their services, and joined the search," Curry said in a statement Monday. "Over 30 ground searchers are involved in today’s search. As the weather conditions had improved, the Two Bear Air Rescue helicopter resumed searching. The search is ongoing this afternoon."
Curry said that the recent snowfall has obscured any tracks that might have been left by Torgerson. Search teams are covering an area that is about 350 acres in size, and all of it is forested, mountainous terrain.
“It’s outside of the resort boundaries, so that poses a much more significant risk to the safety of the searchers,” Curry said.
He said the search would continue as long as possible Monday night and would resume at first light Tuesday morning.