A 34-year-old San Francisco man got a little off course at Lake Tahoe’s Kirkwood ski resort and ended up spending a night in the wilderness, but was eventually rescued by a cavalcade of search personnel and a CHP helicopter.

Lake Tahoe-area ski resorts, and the area’s regional rescue personnel, are already a little on edge in 2024 after an early January incident where one skier died in an avalanche and several others were left missing and had to be rescued. Another near-death incident is now coming to light, as KTVU reports that 34-year-old San Francisco man Mihayl “Mike” Petkov skied off the Kirkwood ski resort grounds into the backcountry, via the back side of the mountain. He was saved after a 24-hour-long rescue mission where Petkov had to endure an entire night outdoors lost in the wilderness.


The incident actually happened the night of February 10, according to a Facebook post from the Amador County Sheriff's Office. NBC Bay Area reported at the time that once Petkov realized he was lost, he “fell in deep powder and couldn't get his skis back on.” After trudging through heavy snows, he managed to text friends, who alerted rescue personnel.

But the Tahoe Daily Tribune added that Amador County Search and Rescue teams sent out snowmobiles and a snowcat, but the evening conditions were too dangerous to locate Petkov. A California Highway Patrol (CHP) helicopter was able to locate him that evening, but could not land because of the conditions, and Petkov had to survive the night in the cold.  

KTVU interviewed Petkov this week, asking what that ordeal was like.


"I was a little worried at first, like, what the night was going to be, because I had no idea how cold it was going to be," Petrov told the station. "At that point, I just had to make sure I was moving my toes every 10 minutes to make sure no blood loss happened, or they don't freeze."

By the morning, Kirkwood Ski Patrol joined the other emergency personnel, and the CHP copter was able to and and retrieve Petkov. And apparently, Kirkwoood comped him a hotel room to rest before heading home.

The Amador County Sheriff’s Office added in their statement, “If you are skiing at a resort, stay within the boundaries. If you are recreating in the backcountry do not go by yourself. Always be prepared for the worst. If you find yourself in a bad situation, rescuers might not be able to get to you right away.”

Related: Man Killed In Tahoe Avalanche Identified as Marin County Resident; Survivors Describe Scene [SFNews]

Image: Amador County Sheriff's Office via Facebook