Mt. Baker Search scaled back for 2 Snowboarders

MOUNT BAKER SKI AREA — A search was scaled back yesterday after crews looked all weekend for one snowboarder, only to discover that a second man was also missing in the Mount Baker ski resort area.

Officials learned Sunday night that Robert Henley, 40, Bellingham, was lost, just as they were wrapping up a weekend-long search for Ronald Hinchey, a 24-year-old Navy electrician who was last seen Friday.

Neither man has been found.

Henley was reported missing late Sunday evening, said Gwyn Howat of the Mount Baker Ski Area. His car was found at the ski area.”Come to find out he’d been missing since Saturday,” Howat said.

“He was alone and because he was alone it was difficult to say where he might have gone.”Henley apparently went snowboarding by himself on Saturday. Howat said he was an experienced snowboarder and frequent backcountry user.Whatcom County sheriff’s Chief Deputy Ron Peterson said there’s no place to search that crews have not already covered.

The ski patrol will continue to check for the missing men on regular runs, Howat said.More than 20 searchers from the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office and Bellingham Mountain Rescue, aided by dogs and volunteers from the Navy base, combed the area around the mountain’s Chair Six and nearby Razor Hone Canyon on Saturday and Sunday, Howat said Sunday.

But there was no sign of Hinchey, a petty officer second class and aviation electrician stationed at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station.About 20 inches of snow have fallen in the past few days at Mount Baker.

Three people were lost last year at Mount Baker while skiing or snowboarding. Howat said all three were lost in the backcountry, not the ski area itself.

© 1999 The Associated Press.