The parents of Nicholas Joy were surely joyful this morning as their 17-year old son was found by a snowmobiler after spending two nights lost on Sugarloaf Mountain. It was Sunday afternoon that Nicholas Joy went missing while skiing with his father, both experienced skiers, around the Timberline area of Sugarloaf when they took separate trails. When his father reported his son missing Sunday afternoon, Sugarloaf Patrol and volunteers plus the Maine Game Warden began an extensive search. The two day search effort expanded to include border patrol and even Navy Seals to total over 80 participants covering upwards of 400 acres.
Around 9am Tuesday morning, Joseph Paul, a Warwick, Massachusetts snowmobiler, not part of the official search team, was out cruising to help look for Joy - having heard the news reports, when he found Joy on the Caribou Pond Road, off the western side of Sugarloaf Mountain. Paul drove him on his snowmobile four miles to the road, where he was met by game wardens, rescuers and police.
According to today's news conference, Joy was led from the snowmobile by a crowd of wardens, rescuers and police to an awaiting ambulance before being taken to Franklin Memorial Hospital for an evaluation. Joy was pale, but walking on his own and drinking a bottle of water. “I’m OK, I’m just tired,” Joy said, before entering the ambulance. His parents arrived and were reunited with their son at the scene.
Sugarloaf's General Manager John Diller said in today's news conference that officials were still interviewing Joy to piece together what happened, but it appears Joy unintentionally went out-of-bounds and built a snow cave after he realized he could not get back to the trail.
"He likes to watch survival shows on television and that may be how he learned to make the snow cave," said Diller. Joseph Paul said Joy’s shelter was made of branches and he drank water from snow and Carrabasset Stream while he was lost.
On Monday, searchers were near the Carrabasset Stream where Joy made his shelter, and Joy later told rescuers that he had heard snowmobiles. According to the warden service, he also “made some directional sampling searches (short searches to and from his ice cave) to look for help. On Tuesday, Joy walked in the direction of the snowmobile noise he heard the previous day. While walking, he found snowshoe tracks left by searchers. He followed the snowshoe tracks to Caribou Pond Road, where he was found by Joseph Paul.”
Eric Wilbur is a lifelong recreational skier who spends most of his winter and spring in the mountains of New England. He does not ski in jeans. You can read more of Eric's work here.
Heather Burke is an award winning ski journalist with over a decade of ski news coverage. As a former ski instructor and a ski parent, she knows the ski biz from the inside out. She and her family visit New England ski resorts, as well as the West and Canada, to report on the latest trends and their best family finds. Her husband Greg takes all the accompanying photos, and their work can be seen at www.familyskitrips.com and www.luxuryskitrips.com.