Cold weather friends

Eleanor C. Hasenbeck
Steamboat Pilot & Today
Yampa Fire Protection District Firefighters and Routt County Search and Rescue volunteers use a rope-lowering system to get a man with possible back and rib injuries out of steep terrain in the Flat Tops Wilderness Area on Sunday.
Courtesy Nicole Miller

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Snowy weather during the kick off of the third deer and elk season kept Routt County Search and Rescue active this past weekend. Volunteers responded to three calls Saturday and Sunday.

With hunting season opening again and bad weather moving in, search and rescue was prepared for a busy weekend, said volunteer Kristia Check-Hill.

She urges those adventuring in the backcountry to make sure cellphone batteries are full. Carry a GPS if you can, and be prepared for very cold, wet weather.

“Be prepared that the weather could look nice at one point, and five minutes later, it changes,” Check-Hill said.

“Be prepared that the weather could look nice at one point, and five minutes later, it changes.”Kristia Check-HillRoutt County Search & Rescue volunteer

Search and rescue volunteer Russ Sanford emphasized that cellphones die more quickly when they are searching for a signal in places with marginal reception. He recommended turning cellphones off to conserve battery power or carrying another power source into the backcountry in case you run into trouble.

It is always free to receive assistance from search and rescue, but if someone is in need of medical attention, they’ll have to navigate the costs of receiving care from an ambulance once out of the field.

Lost in North Routt

On Saturday, a 41-year-old hunter got lost near Sawtooth Mountain north of Bears Ears Peak, said Sanford, who served as incident commander for the event. The man and the three friends he was hunting with agreed to separate, but his friends became concerned when he was not in the planned location.

The man called his wife on a dying cellphone and read her latitude and longitude coordinates from his phone. Sanford said the man had no means of creating a fire, no food, no drinking water and no flashlight. His friends began searching for him at about 1 p.m. His wife contacted 911 at 6:55 p.m.

With nightfall quickly approaching and search and rescue volunteers a two-hour drive from the man’s last known location, Sanford determined the man’s friends would likely be able to enter the man’s last known location into a GPS to get to the man sooner. Around midnight, the group notified Sanford they still had not located the man.

Search and rescue volunteers were paged to search for the man shortly afterward. Sanford said search and rescue volunteers don’t typically go out at night, but the man was so poorly prepared that Sanford decided to send out a rescue team. Volunteers found the man’s footprints and were able to follow them to the lost hunter at about 6 a.m. A Routt County Sheriff’s Office deputy then took the man back to camp. He was cold but otherwise OK.

Fell from a horse

Around 9:30 a.m. Sunday, search and rescue volunteers were called to assist Yampa Fire Protection District firefighters in rescuing a 56-year-old hunter who was injured as he fell from a horse about a mile north of Yamcolo Reservoir in the Flat Tops Wilderness Area, said Check-Hill, who served as incident commander.

The man had possible injuries to his ribs and back, which Check-Hill said were not life-threatening. Search and rescue volunteers and firefighters used a rope lowering system to get the man out of the steep terrain safely. Once out of the woods, the man was transported to UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center, according to scanner traffic.

Injured while field dressing

At 12:53 p.m. Saturday, search and rescue, the North Routt Fire Protection District and the Steamboat Springs Area Fire Protection District firefighters were paged to a private ranch off of Routt County Road 129 to rescue an injured hunter.

The man cut his leg while field dressing an animal. He was able to get out without assistance from firefighters or search and rescue volunteers, according to Steamboat deputy fire chief Chuck Cerasoli.

The man spoke with a Steamboat ambulance crew, but he decided to arrange his own ride to seek medical attention.

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