5 stranded snowmobilers found uninjured on Buffalo Pass | SteamboatToday.com

5 stranded snowmobilers found uninjured on Buffalo Pass

Scott Franz

Routt County Search and Rescue volunteers carved out a path to pull a party of five stranded snowmobilers out of deep snow on Buffalo Pass. The stranded snowmobilers were uninjured.

— Five snowmobilers who spent a long, cold night stuck in deep snow on Buffalo Pass are safe and warm after a successful rescue mission Monday.

Routt County Search and Rescue incident commander Kristia Check-Hill said rescuers on skis, snowmobiles and snowshoes located the stranded group of snowmobilers at about 9:30 a.m. Monday in the north fork of the Fish Creek drainage.

The rescuers then were able to carve a path in the deep snow and pull out those in the stranded party.

"They did really well for spending the night out there," Check-Hill said about the snowmobilers. "I’m sure they were completely exhausted. But they hung in there really well, and they were just happy to see us when we got there."

The stranded party was able to make a fire Sunday night, and no one required medical attention after the rescue.

Check-Hill said that the snowmobilers ranged in age from 15 to 52 and that the party included a father, two children and two friends.

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"It sounded like they were playing around and inadvertently got sucked into the drainage," Check-Hill said.

Rescuers reported the snow around the snowmobilers was about waist deep.

And for the second time this month, a charged cellphone proved instrumental during a rescue operation in Routt County’s backcountry.

Search and Rescue volunteers were in constant communication with the snowmobilers since early Monday and were able to narrow the search area based on the conversations and an initial trace of a cellphone signal.

The search started Sunday night after someone in the stranded group called a relative in Fort Collins on Sunday afternoon to report the snowmobilers were cold, wet and stranded somewhere near the power lines that run down the mountain pass in the vicinity of Summit Lake.

The rescue follows a similar mission in Routt County on Dec. 16 when a cellphone call helped local rescuers retrieve three stranded snowmobilers on Buffalo Pass.

Check-Hill said all backcountry adventurers should go out equipped to survive frigid conditions should they become stuck or lost. Her basic list includes a space blanket, something with which to start a fire, a saw with which to cut wood, a reliable light source and a charged cellphone.

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

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.