Search locates snowmobilers

Men spend night in forest after becoming trapped in drainage

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— Two Colorado Springs snowmobilers were rescued Monday after getting trapped Sunday on Buffalo Pass.

Joseph Ness, 23, and Joey Koscove, 22, built a fire under a tree and spent Sunday night out in the elements. The men snowmobiled into a small drainage off of the southern fork of Soda Creek and couldn't get out.

"I didn't really have a problem with it," Ness said after Routt County Search and Rescue found the men and brought them down from the mountain. "Just keep the fire going and keep a positive attitude."

The National Weather Service reported temperatures in the teens and low 20s overnight, but the men said the fire kept them warm. The only problems were staying dry while the snow melted off the trees. The smoke also irritated Koscove's asthma, Ness said.

Koscove's brother, Mike, called the Routt County Sheriff's Office at around 2 p.m. Sunday after the snowmobilers didn't return to a meeting spot at noon. The three men were staying in a trailer at Dry Lake campground.

About seven Search and Rescue volunteers explored a portion of the area Sunday night, but couldn't find tracks that would have led them to Ness and Koscove, a volunteer said.

A crew of 14 volunteers mounted snowmobiles and a tracked snow machine at 7 a.m. Monday at Dry Lake campground to continue the search. A helicopter also was called in at 8 a.m.

"They were well prepared to spend the night, from what we understood," Search and Rescue volunteer Scott Havener said.

Ness and Koscove had plenty of food and were dressed for extreme conditions.

At 9:30 a.m. Monday, Search and Rescue officials got in touch with the men via hand-held radio, but couldn't pinpoint their location, Incident Commander Sandy Witte said.

Ness and Koscove began hiking back to the campground. They went about three miles before spotting the helicopter at around 9:45 a.m. They then radioed Search and Rescue.

"We were hoping that we would see that helicopter," Ness said.

The copter crew spotted the location and the search team found the two men.

"We cut significant man hours and search time with the helicopter," Witte said.

By 2 p.m. Ness and Koscove were taken to Dry Lake campground unharmed. Their snowmobiles remained in the drainage, and Ness, with help from some local residents, will try to get the sleds this weekend.

"I think we had a really excellent response and everything went as smooth as silk," Witte said.

Witte and Havener said a compass and map, or a Global Positioning System would have helped Ness and Koscove. Such items should be considered important survival gear in the backcountry, the volunteers said.

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