Skier rescued on Rabbit Ears Pass during winter storm
March 29, 2018
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — With the weather worsening, Routt County Search and Rescue volunteers were called to help a cross-country skier who found himself in trouble Wednesday afternoon.
The 54-year-old man from Texas called 911 shortly after 1 p.m. from Rabbit Ears Pass while a winter weather advisory was in effect.
Search and Rescue member Kristia Check-Hill said the man told 911 dispatchers that he had taken a “little tumble,” got wet and could not get his skis back on. The man was also getting tired.
The man was not prepared for the winter conditions. His jeans and cotton shirt were soaked, Check-Hill said.
Because the man called 911, dispatchers were able to determine he was calling from near the top of West Summit Loop B.
Check-Hill said she was unable to reach the man over the phone after he initially called 911.
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With snow continuing to fall and with deteriorating conditions, four Search and Rescue volunteers used snowmobiles to reach the man.
“I just wanted to get to him and get him out,” Check-Hill said.
The mission ended at about 4 p.m.
While the mission was occurring, the Colorado Department of Transportation enacted a traction law for Rabbit Ears Pass. All passenger vehicles were required to have chains, snow tires, four-wheel drive or other traction devices. Commercial vehicles were also required to chain up.
By 5 p.m. Wednesday, about 5 inches of snow had fallen at the summit of Steamboat Ski Area.
The National Weather Service’s winter weather advisory was set to expire at midnight Wednesday night, but more snow was expected in the coming days.
Joel Gratz, who runs opensnow.com, wrote that snow should be expected for Steamboat and Colorado’s northern mountains Thursday and Thursday nights. He thinks the weather will be mostly dry Friday and Saturday.
“Then the next storm will skirt the northern mountains on Saturday night and Sunday, perhaps bringing a few inches of snow with the best chance for a bit of powder during the day on Sunday, and an outside chance for soft turns on Monday morning if the snow hangs around long enough,” Gratz wrote.