CARRABASSETT VALLEY – Four young snowboarders stranded overnight on the snowfields on the back of Sugarloaf Mountain were located and rescued late this morning, according to a Sugarloaf spokesman.

Members of the Sugarloaf Ski Patrol reached the teenagers by mid-morning and by 11 a.m. were in the process of helping them down the mountain. No injuries have been reported.

According to the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, the search was focused at the 3,500-foot elevation mark on what’s called the “backside” of Sugarloaf Mountain, a heavily forested area with extremely steep terrain and ravines. Winds Sunday night were around 30 to 50 miles per hour, the department reported.

Sugarloaf spokesman Ethan Austin said there has been 64 inches of fresh snowfall in the past five days, which obliterated landmarks in this ungroomed section of the mountain reserved for expert skiers.

Two separate groups of skiers were lost, Austin said. Three youths between the ages of 15 and 18 were together in one group and another male, who was skiing solo, was within shouting distance, Austin said. By late afternoon on Sunday, both groups realized they were lost and used their cell phones to call for help.

Austin said the initial cell phone calls came in at about 5 p.m., and by 6:30 p.m. rescuers were on their way up to find the skiers. The Maine Warden Service coordinated the search and set up a command center at the Sugarloaf administration building.

Ski patrol members called off the search at about 11 p.m. Sunday because of poor conditions but instructed the skiers to dig a hole in the snow, line it with pine boughs and hunker down until daylight, Austin said.

The rescue resumed at 5 a.m. this morning. The skiers’ cell phone batteries were dead but Austin said the rescue team was able to make voice contact.

Eighteen-year-old Luke Poisson of Lewiston was found about 9:30 a.m. this morning. Three others – 18-year-old Cory Koop of North Pole, Alaska, 19-year-old Machali Belluscio of Keene, N.H., and 15-year-old Aaron Nadeau of New Portland – were located a short time later, according to the Associated Press.

Eight Game Wardens, six members of the Sugarloaf Ski Patrol, and members of the Carrabasset Valley Fire Department participated in the search.

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