Lost skier spends night outside Steamboat with just a knife, radios
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — A man spent a chilly night on his own in the backcountry just outside Steamboat Resort after ducking an out-of-bounds rope Monday.
Routt County Search and Rescue volunteers received a call at almost 11 p.m. Monday night about a 36-year-old man who had not shown up at a planned dinner with friends earlier in the evening.
Members of Steamboat Ski Patrol initially believed the man was lost somewhere within the resort’s boundaries.
Delbert Bostock, the incident commander for the search, did not immediately send a rescue team because the man did not carry a cellphone with him. Therefore, rescuers could not determine his precise location.
Due the lack of information, they waited until morning to dispatch a search team.
When the man did not show up by Tuesday, Classic Air Medical sent a helicopter to scour the mountain for him in the morning. The air rescue service donates two hours of search time to Routt County Search Rescue, at which point the pilot had not spotted the man and returned to base.
At about 9 a.m., Bostock sent four Search and Rescue volunteers into the field to assist Ski Patrol with a ground search.
Jay Bowman, president of Routt County Search and Rescue, said they limited their investigation to within the resort’s boundary. Friends of the lost man said he was an experienced skier who knew the dangers of skiing in the backcountry.
“The people he was with didn’t think he would venture out-of-bounds without other people,” Bowman said.
Another guest at the ski resort proved those people wrong when he found the lost man around 2 p.m. Tuesday. He was stuck on the steep terrain outside the backcountry gate near East Face, at the summit of Mount Werner.
Bowman said the man had managed to build himself a shelter to survive Monday night, when temperatures hit a low of 3 degrees at the resort’s summit, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.
Bostock added that the man brought no food, water or other essentials to endure a night in the backcountry.
“All he had was a knife and two family radios,” he said.
Ski patrollers transported the man to the base of the resort, where he was taken to the hospital with minor injuries. A “cold toe” seemed to be the worst of his complaints, according to emergency dispatchers.
Both Bowman and Bostock emphasized that people should never venture into the backcountry alone, without the proper equipment or knowledge of the terrain.
Bowman said carrying a phone is essential to help rescuers determine a precise location. This incident in particular would likely have taken much less time if they had known the man was outside the resort.
“This puts a lot of stress on Ski Patrol who are already busy trying to help people in-bounds,” he said.