Paul Melby, a skier missing at Crystal since March 1st, was found yesterday by an employee working on the gondola. His body was spotted in an steep, tightly treed area known as “Mine Shaft”, near the left side of Middle Ferk’s. Here’s a photo of the exact location.
Ski Patrol Director, Paul Baugher stated that the position in which Paul’s body was found “confirms he’d fallen upside down into a tree well and suffocated. This is known as NARSID.”
A well known local expert skier, Paul Melby was last seen skiing at 2:30 p.m. on March 1st, during a major snow storm, and was reported missing later that evening. The ski patrol began searching that night and continued for the next seven days, utilizing over 130 volunteers and covering over 2000 acres of steep terrain. The snow storms continued for the next several weeks, and soon the snow depth made further searching impossible. The search was set to resume on June 25th.
While we on the ski patrol are grateful that this ordeal is over, and Paul’s family can finally have some rest, we are deeply saddened by the loss. Paul Melby was a fixture at Crystal. Not a powder day went by that Paul wasn’t there, quietly seeking out stashes of fresh snow, smiling his toothy grin and always stopping to say hello. Paul was kind, he loved to ski and he found a community who loved him at Crystal.
Since Paul went missing, his impact on our mountain has been obvious in the number of volunteers who searched for him as well as the outpouring of love and sadness for our friend. I’m not going to say, “at least he died doing what he loved.” But he was skiing a great run. His skis were still on when he was found yesterday, which tells me that he must not have struggled much. He was still wearing his goggles.
My hope is that he just drifted away, unaware of the just how deeply he would be missed. Rest in peace, my friend.