Friday, November 24, 2006
Routt County A Routt County Search and Rescue official urged outdoor enthusiasts Friday to be prepared before entering the backcountry, a day after two incidents left off-road vehicle and snowmobile users stranded in the cold.
Russ Sanford, incident commander with Routt County Search and Rescue, said a search and rescue team found two lost, stranded men at about 8 p.m. Thursday. After their snowmobiles got stuck in a creek near Dumont Lake, in the Rabbit Ears Pass area, the men used a cell phone to request help at about 5 p.m. Thursday, Sanford said.
"Other than being very cold and very tired, they were just fine," Sanford said of the men. Sanford would not release the names of the two men, and he did not know their ages. One man was from Colorado Springs, and the other was from Aurora. Neither required medical attention after the rescue.
Sanford said the incident illustrates the importance of preparation and planning when entering the backcountry. Also Thursday, a man and his two young children walked to safety after getting a six-wheeler stuck on Buffalo Pass.
Sanford said the two men on Rabbit Ears came close to spending the night outdoors.
"They did just about everything wrong that they could," Sanford said of the men, who had no food and no map.
Rescuers were able to find the men because of the headlight on one of the stuck snowmobiles.
"Had that headlight not worked, or if they couldn't start the machine, it would have been much more difficult to find them," Sanford said. "They may not have been found until the next day - and they would have had a very miserable night if that had been the case. Snowmobiles don't work forever, and they get stuck very easily."
Furthermore, Sanford said, one man ignored the advice of a Routt County Communications dispatcher and separated from his partner.
"Dispatch told them to stay together, but they separated," Sanford said. "Luckily, one of them didn't get that far before his snowmobile got stuck, too. That could have turned into a nightmare for us - we could have had two lost parties."
Sanford stressed the importance of bringing proper clothing and supplies into the backcountry, and of knowing the limits of your abilities.
"They were inexperienced riders, and that's what got them in trouble," Sanford said of the men. "But at least they had a cell phone with them."