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Two wayward skiers were rescued Saturday morning, after spending a chilly overnight in the deep snows of the northern Sacramento Mountains.

Ryan Adair, 27, and Catherine Murphree, 23, both from the Dallas area, had gone to Ski Apache Friday and had gotten off course, and traveled beyond the resort's boundary. The father of one of the skiers notified police when they failed to return back to the family home near Cloudcroft.

"Their car was still in the parking lot (at Ski Apache) after closing last night," New Mexico State Police Lt. Eric Garcia said Saturday. "A search was planned, but the snow conditions were too difficult to really bring in searchers at night."

State Police Officer Sam Houston found Adair's car in the lot, said White Mountain Search and Rescue (WMSAR) member Tony Davis.

"The usual sweep of the mountain, the daily routine at closing time each day, had already been performed, but the staff of Ski Apache conducted an additional search of the ski area, as well as a search outside the boundary to the north, but no skiers or tracks were found," wrote Davis and WMSAR base camp officer Joyce Westerbur.

About 11 p.m., Friday, search and rescue organizations were mobilized, with an incident commander from Las Cruces was brought in to direct the operation.

During the night, searchers from the U.S. Border Patrol used night vision goggles and heat detection equipment to scour Ski Run Road, but there were no signs of the couple. WMSAR members Rich Adams,

Bob Dragoo and Mark Younger search-ed a possible location for the pair without success.

Early Saturday morning the Ski Apache Ski Patrol performed another sweep of the area. Ski Apache operations director Justin Rowland and ski school manager Larry Schneider searched the southern border of Apache Bowl. Two sets of ski tracks were found leading into a ravine below Sierra Blanca.

A New Mexico National Guard Blackhawk helicopter was requested to search from the sky. And the all-terrain rescue vehicle acquired by the Lincoln County Office of Emergency Services was brought in because of the deep snow.

"The discovery of the sets of tracks by Rowland and Schneider had narrowed greatly the area the helicopter would have to search, and soon after it arrived in the Ski Apache environs the missing skiers were spotted," wrote Davis and Westerbur. "The couple and their gear were winched aboard as the copter hovered. A medic aboard the helicopter examined the couple and found them hungry and tired, but otherwise OK."

The Blackhawk landed on the Alto Lakes Golf and Country Club links near the clubhouse, where Adair and Murphree were escorted to a waiting vehicle.

Westerbur attributed the happy outcome to the skiers' savvy.

"First of all, the two subjects of the search were young, athletic, experienced skiers and in very good condition. As night fell and it became apparent to them that they would be out all night, they found a large boulder and scooped out the snow on its downwind side. They lined the snow with pine branches for insulation and despite overnight temperatures in the lower 20s, were able to stay warm by huddling together. These survival skills allowed them to continue on in the morning.

"During the night, the young man heard what at first he thought was an elk bugling. He remembered that this is not the season for elk to bugle, and realized the sound was probably from searchers looking for them. He got up and yelled, but heard nothing further."

Rowland and Schneider were lauded as true heroes.

"Their discovery of the tracks and efforts to follow the tracks down through complicated terrain narrowed the search area down to where the helicopter could readily find the lost skiers. Search and rescue could not help but be impressed by the dedication of all the Ski Apache personnel."