Rescue at Snowmass: Snowboarders weathered night in snow cave
Aspen Times Staff Writer
Rescuers found two snowboarders Tuesday morning after they went out of bounds at Snowmass and spent the night in a snow cave with no food or water, according to the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office.
Alex Nimmo, 25, and Louise Guest, 24, both New Zealanders who live in Glenwood Springs, were cold but healthy, refusing medical treatment after the ordeal, said Tom Grady, director of operations for the sheriff’s office.
The search involved a dozen members of Mountain Rescue Aspen, three airplanes, Snowmass Village police, Snowmass ski patrol, Pitkin County sheriff’s deputies and Glenwood Springs Police.
At 5:30 p.m. Monday, a supervisor at Colorado Mountain Express noticed one of the two employees was uncharacteristically late for work and notified Snowmass police, according to a prepared press statement.
Snowmass Police asked Skico to look up pass information and found they had been scanned around noon at the Alpine Springs lift. Grady said the Snowmass and Glenwood Springs police departments worked together to make sure Nimmo and Guest were not at home or with friends.
Tom Ball, executive vice president of Colorado Mountain Express, said supervisor Kay Currier and overnight dispatcher Vic Garrett played crucial roles in connecting the dots and helping police.
“All those things developed overnight,” Ball said. “Everyone was ready to go at first light. The good news came early this afternoon.”
At 8 a.m. Tuesday, an in-bounds search at Snowmass by the ski patrol turned up two snowboard tracks heading from High Alpine into the out-of-bounds Willow Creek area, toward Maroon Creek. Soon after, Mountain Rescue mobilized and narrowed the search to a waterfall above the T-Lazy 7, Grady said.
“The airplanes only had time for a few passes before weather set in,” Grady said.
The sheriff’s office release said rescue teams assessed moderate avalanche danger, extreme terrain and weather turning very bad after noon Tuesday.
Search teams tracked Guest and Nimmo to where the two had abandoned their snowboards. Two miles farther, Mountain Rescue Aspen search teams found Nimmo and Guest, who had weathered the night in a snow cave, Grady said.
The search teams gave Nimmo and Guest dry clothing, food, water and help for the hour-long hike out to Maroon Creek Road.
“It was a great ending to a very unfortunate set of circumstances,” Ball said. “Our employees made some poor decisions and bad mistakes, and we have a terrific emergency services group that should be focused on.”
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