Routt County search crews rescue 5 snowmobiliers
Men stuck near north fork of Fish Creek
February 20, 2011
Steamboat Springs — Search crews spent much of Saturday bringing five uninjured, but very tired, men out of a steep area on the north fork of Fish Creek, where the men spent Friday night outdoors after getting stuck in rough terrain while snowmobiling.
"We got here to the barn at (5 a.m.) and just got back at 4:45 (p.m.)," Kristia Check-Hill, of Routt County Search and Rescue, said Saturday.
She said the men were between the ages of 30 and 40. Two are from the Front Range area and three are from Chicago. They parked at Dry Lake on Buffalo Pass on Friday and traveled down toward Fish Creek Reservoir, Check-Hill said, to an area between Dinosaur Lake and Fish Creek, in a drainage.
Check-Hill said the men got stuck in a steep area with deep snow and thick trees and decided to call for help late Friday. They knew their location, which rescuers verified through the cell phone call.
"When I talked to them, between 8:30 and 9 (p.m.), they were able to make a fire, had food, water and stuff to stay reasonably comfortable," Check-Hill said. "We discussed our options last night and made sure they were comfortable spending the night out."
She said the men kept a fire going all night, despite wood-gathering challenges on the steep slope of the drainage.
"It was some gnarly stuff — our guys had to really work to get their five sleds out," Check-Hill said.
She said rescuers always try to get equipment out along with the people.
"If we don't get their sleds out, then we have the potential to have a mission tomorrow when they go back in to get those sleds," she said.
Check-Hill said search crews reached two of the men at about 9:30 a.m. Saturday and the remaining three later in the day.
"They're just extremely exhausted," she said of their condition after two days and a night outdoors.
She said that area is not commonly used for snowmobiling.
"It was pretty darn vertical directly below them," Check-Hill said. "They now realize, obviously, it's not a good area for them to be playing in there … It's just really treacherous."
— To reach Mike Lawrence, call 970-871-4233 or e-mail mlawrence@SteamboatToday.com