Search Suspended for Missing Ski Instructor

Carson May, 23, was last seen skiing at Sugar Bowl Resort on January 14

Sugar Bowl Resort
Sugar Bowl Resort received over 30 inches of new snow over the weekend, complicating search efforts for the missing skier. PHOTO: Courtesy Sugar Bowl Resort

The search for a missing ski instructor at Sugar Bowl was suspended on January 20 following days of intense searching in dangerous conditions. Carson May, 23, was last seen skiing at the resort on Thursday afternoon, according to the Placer County Sheriff’s Office. He didn’t show up for his ride home that evening and never made it home. His belongings were found in his locker at the resort, according to the Reno Gazette Journal.

Sugar Bowl Resort Carson May
Carson May was last scene on January 14 at Sugar Bowl Resort. PHOTO: Courtesy Placer County Sheriff Department

Sugar Bowl Ski Patrol was notified the following morning and a search crew including Tahoe Nordic Search and Rescue and Placer County Sheriff’s Office were dispatched to the area where May was last seen, however heavy snow and rain combined with high avalanche danger complicated the search. Crews were unable to conduct an aerial search until Monday afternoon, January 18, due to low visibility, according to the Sacramento Bee.

The Sierra Avalanche Center reported considerable avalanche conditions over the holiday weekend following storms that brought a mix of rain and snow on top of a wide-spread layer of surface hoar that left the snowpack unstable and unpredictable. (In a separate and unrelated incident, a snowboarder is facing charges after triggering an avalanche in a closed area inbounds at Sugar Bowl, according to a press release from the resort.)

On Tuesday, January 19, heavy snow and high avalanche danger created treacherous conditions that endangered the lives of volunteers, leading the sheriff’s office to call off the search indefinitely. Follow-up searches are likely if weather conditions improve or if deputies receive new information. More than 400 professionals and volunteers assisted with the search including seven avalanche dog teams and three helicopter teams, Sugar Bowl Ski Patrol, National Ski Patrol and ski school staff members, according to the Sugar Bowl Facebook page.

May was last seen wearing a blue Columbia jacket, bright green pants, and a blue helmet.