Skier takes longer than expected

75-year-old man found unharmed at bottom of Morningside lift

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A 75-year-old man set off Thursday morning on an 8-mile trail linking Rabbit Ears Pass to the Steamboat Ski Area -- and ended up getting a ride down Mount Werner from a groomer at about 10 p.m.

Bull McCullah left the Hogan Park trailhead at about 10:30 a.m. Thursday, Routt County Undersheriff Dan Taylor said.

When McCullah did not return on time, a friend called police.

That call came in at about 7 p.m., when Routt County Search and Rescue already was working to rescue four skiers stranded in the Fish Creek drainage. Rescue crews were unable to respond immediately to the second call, said Adam Christman, a member of Routt County Search and Rescue.

By the time the Routt County Search and Rescue workers could get more details about the man's situation, the man had been spotted by a groomer at Steamboat Ski Area.

McCullah was found at the bottom of the Morningside lift, ski area spokeswoman Heidi Thomsen said. The groomer gave the man a ride out of the area to a safe location, she said.

Taylor said McCullah had food and water and, as far as Taylor knows, was not injured. There was no report of an ambulance being called to help him.

Few details about what happened while McCullah was skiing on the Hogan Park Trail were available Friday, as Routt County officials did not handle the case, and the man never spoke with the Steamboat Ski Patrol.

It was not known whether McCullah was an out-of-town visitor or a resident, but he does not have a listed phone number.

The Hogan Park Trail begins near the Walton Peak parking lot on Rabbit Ears Pass and ends at the backside of the ski area. It is for experienced, prepared skiers only. It begins at 9,200 feet and finishes at 10,565 feet, at which point, skiers must navigate a 3,000 foot vertical descent down the ski area. Skiers always should bring extra food, water and survival gear when they use the trail.

-- To reach Susan Cunningham, call 871-4203 or e-mail sbacon@steamboatpilot.com

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