Lost snowshoers rescued in Steamboat area
Search and Rescue helps 3 people in 2 separate incidents
March 19, 2010
Steamboat Springs — Two men were rescued by helicopter Thursday after becoming lost and dehydrated while snowshoeing near Strawberry Park Hot Springs.
Jim Linville, Routt County Search and Rescue incident commander, said the men, both of whom are 34 and athletic, began their day by snowshoeing up the Lower Bear Trail off Routt County Road 36 near the entrance to the springs. They went a couple of miles before leaving the trail and trying to make a loop out of their hike.
But warm weather and soft snow led to a slow, difficult hike for the men, who quickly found themselves post-holing through the snowpack. They had little food and water with them and soon became dehydrated, Linville said.
The unidentified men used a cell phone to call 911 at about 2:30 p.m., and they were then put in touch with Linville. Although the snowshoers could see the road and a home, they were too tired and dehydrated to get to safety, Linville said.
Because of the steep terrain, soft snow and lack of available volunteers, a helicopter piloted by resident John Witte, of Steamboat-based Zephyr Helicopter Co., was called out to locate the men. Witte and Search and Rescue member Kristia Check-Hill loaded the men into the helicopter and took them to Steamboat Springs Airport at about 6 p.m., where an ambulance took one of the men to Yampa Valley Medical Center in an unknown condition, Linville said.
"This is a real lesson for people thinking about going out," Linville said. "You need to have adequate water and food and be using it. They ran out, and they were in bad shape.
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"You can be in really good shape and still get exhausted when the snow's heavy. Knowing when to turn around and when to consume food or water is really important."
Routt County Search and Rescue rescued a stuck snowboarder Wednesday night in the Buffalo Pass backcountry.
The Steamboat Springs man was riding with two or three friends when he went too far down into the drainage of the north fork of Fish Creek, Linville said. He had cell phone contact with his friends and rescuers, and a team of snowshoers and snowmobilers from Search and Rescue reached the man at about 7 p.m. by traveling up from the Uranium Mine trail.
The man was in good condition and didn't require medical attention, Linville said.
However, the man had little gear with him, and none of the riders appeared to be very familiar with the Buffalo Pass terrain, Linville said.