Mar 22, 2023

While snowmobiles and off-road vehicles are often designed to handle extreme winter conditions, don’t assume that problems will never arise.

According to Chaffee County Search and Rescue-North, about 60 percent of missions thus far in 2023 have been related to snowmobilers entering the backcountry and getting stuck in deep snow. Meanwhile, a similar issue of overconfident four-wheel-drive operators was highlighted in a recent incident in which a man used a drone to call for help.

Chaffee County Search and Rescue-North recently brought up the issue on social media after conducting two ‘stuck snowmobile’ rescues last Sunday.

In the first case, crews received a report that two snowmobilers were missing at about 10:15 p.m., Sunday.

While the snowmobilers were prepared, they were ultimately found having to walk out of the backcountry after getting their sleds stuck, with the mission complete at 1:30 a.m., on the following morning.

A second incident was reported just after midnight, with two snowmobilers reported missing near St. Elmo.

These snowmobilers were eventually found more than 10 hours later, walking down from Tincup Pass after spending the night in the field and using a trench and fire for warmth. They, too, had gotten their snowmobiles stuck.

Never assume that the backcountry will be navigable and always have a backup plan in place. Avoid solo travel and bring along a GPS communication device, such as a Garmin inReach, as this can help maintain a line of communication with the outside world. Always let someone know where you’re headed and when you’ll be back.

If you’re interested in supporting Colorado’s volunteer-powered search and rescue operation, one way to do so is through the purchase of a CORSAR card. It’s cheap, at only $3 per year.