Out-of-state skier rescued from Steamboat Resort, reunited with family

Derek Maiolo
Steamboat Pilot

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — A 58-year-old skier had to be rescued Thursday after he got lost outside Steamboat Resort. 

At 1:35 p.m., Routt County Search and Rescue volunteers responded to a report of a skier who had accidentally left the resort boundary. He was stranded in the Fish Creek drainage, according to incident commander Kristia Check-Hill.

It was the rescue group’s first call for service at the ski area this winter, she said.

First responders were able to trace the man’s phone and get a pin on his location, Check-Hill said. She was only able to text the man because calls would not go through, presumably due to poor service in the drainage.

Check-Hill sent a team of three volunteers to ski down to the man from the resort. They located him just above Fish Creek, near the upper falls along the creek’s namesake trail. The rescuers traversed with the man back to the ski area on Pioneer Ridge, Check-Hill said.

The man told rescuers that he did not mean to leave the ski area. By the time he realized he had entered the backcountry, the man was too far down the drainage to get out on his own, according to Check-Hill.

“It was just one of those unfortunate things,” she said. “He may have gone left when he should have gone right.”

Check-Hill said the rescue went smoothly. Search and Rescue volunteers reunited the man with his family around 5:30 p.m. 

In light of this incident, Check-Hill advises skiers and riders to never ski alone, as this man was doing. People also should familiarize themselves with the area and terrain before heading out.  

“Don’t assume just because you see ski tracks that it is a good place to go skiing,” Check-Hill said. 

She speculated that the man may have seen tracks in the powder going down into the drainage and followed them without realizing they led outside of the ski area. 

Free trail maps are available at the bottom of almost every chairlift, according to Loryn Duke, director of communications for Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. Maps can also be found at Steamboat Ski Patrol buildings and at various locations at the base of the ski area, including the welcome center and ticket office.

Guests can download the Steamboat Resort app, which has a digital trail map as well as information on closures and snow accumulation. 

Gates at various boundary points at the resort notify people they are leaving the ski area and of the risks involved with backcountry skiing. 

Within ski area boundaries, it is illegal to duck ropes delineating a closure, according to Colorado’s Ski Safety Act of 1979. Violating the rule can lead to a fine of up to $1,000. 

Saving skiers and riders who have gotten stranded while skiing at or around the ski area is a major part of Search and Rescue’s service in the winter.

In January, a lost skier had to spend a night in the backcountry after getting lost in the Routt National Forest. A team of rescuers eventually brought the man back to safety, but the mission lasted almost 24 hours, complicated by heavy snowfall and avalanche danger. 

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