Search & Rescue finds lost snowboarder
December 26, 1996
Steamboat Springs — A Steamboat Springs man spent most of Christmas Eve slogging through deep snow in the Spring Creek drainage northeast of the city after losing his way while snowboarding on Buffalo Pass.
Chris Stebbins, 36, was tired and dehydrated but otherwise in good condition when rescue teams found him at about 4 a.m. Christmas morning, said Joe Stevens of Routt County Search and Rescue.
Stebbins was reported missing by his brother at about 5:45 p.m. Tuesday, Stevens said. The two men (the brother is from Michigan) had been snowboarding from a snowmobile about six miles up Buffalo Pass in an are known as Juniper Bowl.
Chris Stebbins apparently rode his board too far west and dropped into the Spring Creek drainage.
Search and Rescue personnel lost contact with the brother after he reported Chris missing and did not begin to search in earnest until about 1 a.m. A Search and Rescue volunteer initially checked out a report that tracks had been spotted exiting the mouth of Spring Creek Canyon. But those tracks proved to have been made earlier in the day by someone on snowshoes.
Search and Rescue formed 11 people into three teams and began looking for Stebbins. Stevens led a team that attempted to locate Stebbin's trail from the upper portion of Buffalo Pass.
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Stevens said he picked up a trail that looked like someone on foot dragging a snowboard. He said the individual appeared to have sat down on the board to rest about every 300 yards. That was enough to cause Stevens to send a search team up Spring Creek from the bottm of the canyon. The searchers went as far as they could by snowmobile, then switched to snowshoes, Stevens said.
Stebbins was still strong when he was found, but was disoriented about the time of night.
"He couldn't believe it was 4 a.m.," Stevens said. "he thought it was about 11 p.m.."
Stevens estimated that Stebbins had covered about six miles in 11 hours of walking.