A night in the elements: proper planning and preparation helps five snowmobilers self-rescue from Ripple Creek area

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MEEKER | Rio Blanco County Communications Center received a call around 6 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 19, stating there were five snowmobilers that were overdue. The five individuals from Wisconsin, ranging in age from 24 to 30, were staying at the Wild Skies Flat Top Cabin Rental located at mile marker 52 on Rio Blanco County Road 8.

It was reported that the individuals made a plan with family members that if they did not hear from them by 6 p.m. to please call for help as there might be a problem. They had also let family members know they were going to be in the general area of Pagoda Peak.

Rio Blanco Search and Rescue deployed a Hasty Team around 9:30 p.m. to ride up County Rd 8 and search the known trails in the area and to check the Wild Skies Cabin to see if the riders had made it back to the cabin. On the way to the cabin there was little sign of snowmobile riders and the team was unable to make contact with anyone. With the search taking place after dark, weather limiting visibility and not knowing the exact location it was safer for search and rescue to bring their members home and deploy again at daylight.

Rio Blanco County Communications Center received a call around 5 a.m. on Feb. 20, stating one of the overdue parties was able to call home and update their family that they were all safe, uninjured and walking out as a result of their equipment getting stuck in the snow.  They estimated they were approximately two hours from the cabin and requested that search and rescue stand down as they would continue with self-rescue. Due to their preparedness and respect for the great outdoors they were well equipped with gear which helped them be able to self-rescue and make it back safely to the cabin around 9 a.m. Tuesday.

Information courtesy of the Colorado Search & Rescue Board

For more information on backcountry preparedness please go to http://www.coloradosarboard.org/FAQs.shtml

Special to the Herald Times