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It was freezing and rapidly getting dark on Pajarito Mountain Sunday when Mica Melnikoff realized he was lost.He and his friend Kevin Smith had come up from Albuquerque to test their snowboards on Los Alamos’ ski hill. At around 3:45 p.m., following a trail around the perimeter, the two became separated. Smith ended up on top of the lifts but Melnikoff found himself climbing down the side of Pajarito Canyon, well off the trail and hip-deep in snow.“The canyon is incredibly dense – almost impassable – and a very dangerous place to be with the sun going down and temperatures hitting single digits at night,” said Eric Schaller, assistant patrol director of the Pajarito Mountain Ski Patrol, which found the disoriented, exhausted snowboarder some two hours after Smith alerted them to the situation.Smith said when he didn’t see Melnikoff come back around the trail, he asked two passers-by if they had seen a snowboarder.
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