Search and Rescue aids more snowmobilers

Matt Stensland

— For the second time in two days, Routt County Search and Rescue volunteers were called to help stranded snowmobilers in the backcountry.

On Tuesday, Search and Rescue was called to help a group of five snowmobilers stuck in deep snow on Buffalo Pass. The riders from the Front Range were able to build a fire and spent the night before being rescued Wednesday morning.

It was more of the same Wednesday afternoon, when rescuers were called to help eight Wisconsin men in North Routt County in a drainage west of Farwell Mountain.

“These guys were in a drainage area that was extremely difficulty to navigate,” Incident Commander Chad Bowdre said.

Members of the group were repeatedly getting stuck and, as a result, were moving at a rate of only about 100 feet per hour.

On Wednesday night, rescuers reached the ridgeline above the riders but were unable to go any further.

“It is really difficult to get to folks at night in difficult terrain,” Bowdre said.

The terrain was less prone to avalanches but still proved a challenge with the dense woods and fallen trees.

Rescuers were in contact with the group by cell phone, and the riders were able to build a fire for the night. Temperatures in Steamboat on Wednesday night reached -23 degrees.

The six-member search team included a North Routt Fire Protection District firefighter and a guide from Hahn’s Peak Roadhouse. Bowdre said Wednesday was the first day the medium-ability riders had gone out without a guide.

The rescuers reached the riders on skis Thursday morning and helped guide them to safety. They were tired and hungry but not injured.

“Tired doesn’t even begin to explain it,” Bowdre said. “They were just exhausted.”

Bowdre urged those venturing into the backcountry to be prepared with extra gloves, food, water and a way to start a fire.

“Be prepared to spend the night,” Bowdre said.

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

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