Snowboarder with extreme hypothermia rescued outside Steamboat Ski Area


— A snowboarder who spent Wednesday night in Steamboat Ski Area sidecountry was found Thursday morning with what rescuers described as extreme hypothermia.

Routt County Search and Rescue volunteer Kristia Check-Hill said the 29-year-old Steamboat man was out for a day of snowboarding at the ski area when the man and his brother decided to go ride out the No. 1 sidecountry access gate at about 3 p.m. The gate is located near the top of the Tomahawk trail and feeds into an area known as Holy Bowl.

“At some point, they got separated,” Check-Hill said.

The Routt County Sheriff’s Office identified the rescued man as Keegan Gavin.

After being separated, Gavin’s brother made it back to the ski area and notified ski patrol. Texts and phone calls were made to Gavin’s cellphone, but he did not answer. Businesses were checked at the base area because it was thought he might be there.

“He unfortunately wasn’t anywhere there,” Check-Hill said.

Search and Rescue was called at 5:45 p.m.

Check-Hill said Gavin’s cellphone was tracked, and the third tracking attempt showed his phone was at his home. When the phone was found plugged in, it became clear Gavin did not have his phone with him.

Check-Hill said rescuers had to consider whether to search for Gavin at night, which would have been difficult and they would have risked missing something they would have otherwise seen in the daylight. For those reasons and others, they chose not to go search Wednesday night.

“You’re never comfortable having someone out there, but sometimes that is the best for everyone,” Check-Hill said.

At 6 a.m., a 12-person search party, composed of a couple of volunteers, Search and Rescue members and Steamboat Ski Patrol members who were very familiar with the terrain, assembled.

“They’re the experts,” Check-Hill said.

They loaded the gondola and went out the same gate the brothers went out.

“They eventually found what they believed were his trails and followed them and followed them and followed them,” Check-Hill said.

They found Gavin shortly before 11 a.m. in the Storm King Creek drainage. Check-Hill described him as being extremely hypothermic.

“He continued to move all night long, which was a good thing,” Hill said.

Temperatures in the morning were in the single digits.

Gavin was loaded onto a trailer and taken out by snowmobile. Check-Hill said he was then put into an ambulance waiting at Alpine Mountain Ranch and taken to Yampa Valley Medical Center at about 12:30 p.m.

Check-Hill said Gavin did not appear to be injured, and his condition was not life threatening.

She reminded those venturing into the outdoors to always carry a cellphone.

Storm King Creek rescue

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland

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erich ferguson 3 years, 3 months ago

thanks so much for the rescuers who went out and look for him. there has been a lot of trails made in that area including one I made with my brother out to the North Fork of Walton Creek that could have easily sent someone in the wrong direction...we did an out and back. and I hope said rider is OK.. with not much snow lately there's lots of tracks leading everywhere.


Neil O'Keeffe 3 years, 3 months ago

The suggestion to never go into the backcountry without your cellphone should also be accompanied by pack, water, food, matches, compass...and the ability to spend the night out if need be. The thinking that a cell phone can take the place of being prepared for the worst in the wilderness is ludicrous at best and generally the reason why so many unnecessary rescues are required. So sure, have your cell phone with you along with all you other essential gear and in the event you do get lost or are injured hopefully you will have a cell phone connection, but don't rely on it. And thanks to RCSR for all they do?


Neil O'Keeffe 3 years, 3 months ago

Not to mention having a plan and staying with the plan (as in diving) to look out for your buddie. Staying within reach/earshot of one another isn't always easy (whistles help) but makes a big difference when problems arise. Also knowing where you are going instead of following some one else's tracks may help avoid situations like this. Last season I think there were 6 rescues in one day out of Fish Creek Canyon all because no one knew where they were going and were simply following others tracks. Common sense goes a long way but may be in short supply these days. IMHO!


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