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Search teams, friends look for woman on Mount Roberts

Troopers: This is the third night Sharon Buis, 48, has been missing

Posted: May 25, 2014 - 11:03pm
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A poster for missing hiker Sharon Buis hangs at the top of the Mount Roberts Tramway on Sunday evening. A search party has been looking for the 48-year-old woman since 1 a.m. Sunday.  EMILY RUSSO MILLER | JUNEAU EMPIRE
EMILY RUSSO MILLER | JUNEAU EMPIRE
A poster for missing hiker Sharon Buis hangs at the top of the Mount Roberts Tramway on Sunday evening. A search party has been looking for the 48-year-old woman since 1 a.m. Sunday.

Sharon Buis was supposed to meet up with the Alpine Club at 9 a.m. Saturday morning to hike Hawthorne Peak, south of Sheep Mountain.

But the 48-year-old physical therapist never showed up, her friends say. Buis was eventually reported missing Saturday night after her longtime hiking buddy couldn’t shake a bad feeling.

“I just wasn’t feeling good about it, so I just thought I would drive around to some trailheads,” said Anne Johnson, 50, who has been hiking with Buis for the past eight or nine years. “The very first trailhead I went to was Mount Roberts, and I saw her car there at 9:30 p.m. (Saturday).”

Johnson called the Juneau Police Department after she found Buis’ black Honda Civic coated in pollen, a huge red flag.

“I had to wipe it off to look in the window, so I knew the car had been there for a while,” Johnson said. “I right away deduced that she was supposed to hike with me today, it’s Saturday, she had yesterday off, Friday. I think she went up on Friday, I think this car has been here since sometime on Friday, so I called the police.”

Local search and rescue teams have been searching for Buis since then, but to no avail. Members of Juneau Mountain Rescue, Southeast Alaska Dogs Organized for Ground Search, the Alpine Club and many of Buis’ friends starting searching at about 1 or 2 a.m. Sunday morning on Mount Roberts, where she presumably went hiking.

Alaska State Trooper Josh Bentz, who is coordinating the search, said it is thought that she hiked up Mount Roberts, but it’s not for certain.

“She didn’t tell anyone where she was going, she didn’t bring anyone — well, we don’t know if she brought anyone with her — but didn’t tell anyone where she was going, when she was leaving and when she was coming back,” Bentz said Sunday night at the restaurant at the top of the Mount Roberts Tramway, where searchers have set up a command center. “I mean, we assume she came up Mount Roberts trail because her car’s parked there, but people sometimes park at one trailhead and come down another.”

Bentz said troopers know that she was at Alaska Marine Lines near the Rock Dump at 9:30 a.m. Friday based on a receipt they found. That was her last known location.

JMR member Matt Callahan, who is helping coordinate the search, said about 50 people have looked at “high probability areas” where hikers usually go. They are also searching by air in a Temsco helicopter and in gullies on the mountainside.

“There’s some areas that are not safe to examine without a rope that somebody could have fallen down, so we have some members who are using ropes to search those areas,” he said.

Another JMR member, Doug Wessen, said someone reported seeing her near the tram on Saturday morning, but that ended up being a false tip.

If Johnson is right about the timeline, then Sunday night will be the third night Buis has been out on the mountain alone.

“I’m just obviously real worried about her,” Johnson said. “She’s very tough, she’s very gritty, so I think that goes in her favor. But tonight’s going to be, I think, the third night that she’s not here.”

Buis is a physical therapist at Juneau Physical Therapy, according to the company’s website. Her bio on the website says she attended physical therapy school in Ontario, Canada, and has been working for JPT since 2005.

Buis’ family has been notified of the search effort. Johnson said Buis is from Toronto.

Anyone who has seen Buis can contact troopers at 465-4000.

• Contact reporter Emily Russo Miller at 523-2263 or at emily.miller@juneauempire.com.

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cheryl adelmeyer
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cheryl adelmeyer 05/26/14 - 10:40 pm
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What can we do?

Is there anything we local hikers can do at this point? Do we anticipate that there was human error or a meeting with a bear? Other than prayers for Sharon, has her cell phone been traced possibly to her location or last communication? I'd like to help in some way if it can.
Other than leaving a note in your car or at home on the kitchen table, how about a sign in/out sheet at major trail heads? So if someone comes up missing we have a clue where to look. When you go into The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) you must have a entry and exit day and area noted. Just an idea.

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