Snowmobiler injured in crash on Rabbit Ears Pass

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Backcountry survival pack

Planning to head out into the backcountry? Local experts urge you to be prepared. Routt County Search and Rescue veteran Darrel Levingston suggests the following kit:

■ Waterproof/windproof matches and lighter

■ Various fire starters: Vaseline-soaked cotton balls, hand sanitizer, liquid gel

■ Small folding saw

■ Map and compass, and (optionally) a GPS device

■ Basic first-aid kit (including antiseptic wipes, 2-inch-by-2-inch sterile pads, medical tape, Benadryl tablets)

■ Water bottle and water purification tablets or water filter system

■ Two reflective emergency blankets or reflective tarps

■ Energy bars, trail mix, power gels, cocoa packets

■ Tin cup with insulated handle for warming snow or water

■ Warm hat and gloves, wool socks, fleece vest, rain coat and pants

■ Multitool (Leatherman type), duct tape (small amount), 15 to 20 feet of lightweight rope

■ Headlamp with extra batteries

■ Sunscreen

■ Two days’ supply of essential prescribed medications

■ Cellphone (keep this close to your body to keep the battery warm)

Also: Always tell someone where you are going and when you’ll return and/or leave an itinerary on the front seat of your car.

— A Routt County Search and Rescue team on Sunday rescued a snowmobiler who was seriously injured after he reportedly drove his sled off a cliff in the remote backcountry on Rabbit Ears Pass.

Search and Rescue volunteer Darrel Levingston said the 33-year-old snowmobiler from the Granby area was with a group of four riders when friends reported he fell 30 feet off a cliff in the Fishhook Creek area.

The man's injures were significant but not thought to be life threatening, Levingston said.

Deep powder and the difficult terrain northwest of the Dumont Lake parking area made it difficult for rescuers to reach the man.

Levingston said after the friends called 911 at about 2 p.m., it took the rescue team about two hours to reach the crash site.

“They had a lot of trouble getting to the patient,” he said, adding that the trip out of the backcountry took about an hour and a half.

The man was then taken by ambulance to Yampa Valley Medical Center at about 7:30 p.m.

Levingston said the rescue is a reminder that conditions in the local backcountry remain tough, and adventurers should continue to go in prepared.

"All the new snow we've had is making the backcountry difficult to navigate," Levingston said. "If possible, snowmobilers should try to stay on the trails."

He added that it's critical for backcountry adventurers to carry the proper equipment that includes avalanche beacons, shovels and snowshoes.

With all those tools, many calls for help in Routt County could be avoided, he said.

"Anybody going into the backcountry should be prepared to spend the night," he said. "Nobody ever plans to get stuck in the woods, but when it happens, it's awfully nice if you're prepared.

Sunday's rescue was preceded during the weekend by three other calls for help in the local backcountry.

Levingston said a skier and two snowboarders called for help after they got stuck in the Fish Creek drainage Saturday afternoon.

"They got themselves out, but it took several hours," he said.

A snowmobiler also was temporarily stranded on Rabbit Ears Pass on Saturday.

On Sunday, a group of eight snowmobilers called for help after they became stuck in the Steamboat Lake area, and they were helped out by employees at Steamboat Lake Outfitters.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com

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