Snowmobilers found after long search

Rescuers remind people to carry maps and to tell others where they’re going

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— A search for a group of seven snowmobilers in North Routt County that started late Friday afternoon stretched into early Saturday morning.

Routt County Search and Rescue volunteers had the seven men safe and uninjured at Steamboat Lake Outfitters by 1 a.m. Saturday, after a long process of finding the group. The men had been riding snowmobiles in North Routt County on Friday when they mistakenly ended up in a drainage of deep snow on the west side of Farwell Mountain, incident commander Jim Linville said.

Members of the group and their sleds became stuck in the drainage at about noon, and after hours of trying to get out, they called Steamboat Lake Outfitters for help at about 4 p.m. Employees there contacted Routt County Communications, and Search and Rescue volunteers and Routt County Sheriff’s Office deputies were called to respond.

The men were visiting from Nebraska and were not familiar with the area, Linville said.

“We were able to have cell phone contact with them, but they, being very new to the area, really had no idea where they were, so they couldn’t really give us a starting point,” Linville said.

Search and Rescue waited to field a team until they had an idea where the men might be, Linville said. A group of volunteers headed out a little after 8 p.m., and after some false starts, had little luck finding the men as team members worked their way down Farwell Mountain, Linville said.

At about 10 p.m., one of the men who had been stuck since noon realized that his smart phone had a global positioning system function on it. Using that function, he was able to give dispatchers his location; with those coordinates, searchers found the group. It took about two hours to dig the men out and bring them back to the road, Linville said.

There were no injuries, and aside from being cold, the men were fine, Linville said. They had built a small fire and had some warm clothing, but they had “very little gear for spending the night,” he said. The group did not have a map, compass or pure GPS with them, he said.

Linville encouraged anyone going into the backcountry to tell someone where there are going and when they expect to be back.

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