Lost snowmobiler rescued near Gravel Mountain
A lost snowmobiler from Iowa was rescued Tuesday night near Gravel Mountain by Grand County Search and Rescue team members following a multi-hour response effort.
Grand County Search and Rescue (GCSAR) Field Director Paul Robertson provided details about the successful operation. According to Robertson the Grand County Sheriff’s Office received a call from the lost snowmobiler shortly before 3 p.m. Tuesday afternoon. The caller reported he became stuck in a gully in a chute below Gravel Mountain while snowmobiling in the area with friends.
The missing subject, whose name was not released by officials from Search and Rescue, was vacationing in the Grand Lake area and is from Des Moines, Iowa. After placing the initial call a Sheriff’s Deputy contacted the snowmobiler. The deputy attempted to provide the snowmobiler with directions to the nearest trail using GPS data from the subjects phone in hopes that the subject would be able to flag down other passing snowmobilers for help.
The lost subject called 911 again at 5:45 p.m. to report he had become tired and disoriented while hiking through deep snow attempting to find the nearest trail. At that time GCSAR was contacted to begin preparing for a rescue operation. Search and Rescue responded with trucks, trailers and snowmobiles along with personnel. The rescue team and equipment arrived at the Idleglen staging area at 7:15 p.m. and were in the field by 7:55 p.m.
The rescue team led by Chris Zigler consisted of four team members on snowmobiles. The team moved from Idleglen staging area into higher elevations on snowmobiles and then snowshoed through the wilderness for half a mile before locating the lost Iowan in roughly the spot indicated by GPS data from his phone. The subject was located at 9:35 p.m.
After locating the subject Rescue team members walked him back to the waiting snowmobiles and the subject was taken down the mountain to Idleglen staging area, arriving at 11:42 p.m. Robertson referred to the Tuesday rescue operation as, “very successful”. “When we left command that night it was negative two degrees,” Robertson said. “He would have perished.”
Field Director Robertson and additional support personnel along with a four-person reserve response team waited at the Idleglen staging area while the main team moved into the high country to search for the lost subject. In total GCSAR had 13 team members in the field Tuesday night.
Robertson described the snowmobiler as a male in his mid-40s who rode directly from Grand Lake into the wilderness near Gravel Mountain.
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Diane Howell, 77, only leaves her house right now for errands and essentials. As part of the age group considered most vulnerable to COVID-19, she’s felt isolated as she avoids most social interactions.