Norwich man, son lost for hours at ski resort

Norwich — A Norwich man and his 11-year-old son were rescued in Vermont Saturday night after getting lost for several hours at Mount Pico Mountain Resort during a snowstorm.

Scott Barbarossa, 50, and Zachary Barbarossa lost contact with the emergency crews searching for them when Scott’s cellphone battery died shortly after 3 p.m. A rescuer on the phone was about to tell them to walk straight down the mountain to reach a main road, his wife, Jackie Barbarossa, said.

Using tips learned from skiing out west, the two made a snow hut to keep warm and waited for rescue crews to find them. They were discovered on a remote section of the mountain after 10 p.m. Saturday and returned home Sunday afternoon in good condition, never needing hospitalization.

Scott Barbarossa said Sunday afternoon that he and his son, a sixth-grader at Kelly Middle School in Norwich, were skiing on a familiar trail at Pico Mountain in Killington and went back to the same spot for one final run.

Although Scott said they paid attention to trail boundaries, they inadvertently veered too far to the left in an unmarked area, seeing no ropes or boundary markers. Scott Barbarossa said he knew something was wrong when the two of them fell off the back side of a ridge.

“We started hiking hard to the right,” he said. “We hiked for an hour and a half. We had to carry the skis, because it was too rough to ski.”

At 1:30 p.m., he decided to call for help and dialed 911 on his cellphone, which had just 5 percent of its battery power remaining. He called back a half hour later to give rescuers a better chance to nail down their location using a global positioning system. He called again shortly after 3 p.m. when the two reached a cross-country ski trail to report the name of the trail.

Back at home in Norwich, Scott’s wife and Zachary’s mother, Jackie Barbarossa, waited anxiously, talking frequently to Vermont state police and rescue personnel.

She said she received a frantic call from Scott at 3 p.m. saying they were lost in the woods and the ski patrol was searching for them. He had to hang up because his cellphone battery was dying.

“I asked if Zac was with him and he said ‘yes,’ and hung up,” Jackie Barbarossa said Sunday afternoon as the two were on their way home.

Father and son had no food or water with them, and decided to make a snow hut and wait it out as sunset was coming at 4:30 p.m.

He said his son “was a little scared, but he was fabulous,” helping to build the snow hut and remaining calm throughout the ordeal.

“It was above freezing in there, because it was dripping,” Scott Barbarossa said.

Rescuers arrived shortly after 10 p.m., bringing food, water and snowshoes. The rescuers escorted them to an  ambulance waiting on a road to take them down the mountain.

Scott, who owns Alarm Design LLC in Norwich, praised ski patrol crews from the Pico and Killington resorts and the Rutland, Vt., police department for their response.

“They checked us out and said our temperature was a bit low, but we were fine,” Scott Barbarossa said.

c.bessette@theday.com

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