Lost skier and snowboarder rescued in Willow Creek Basin near Snowmass
A skier and snowboarder had to be rescued from West Willow Creek basin near Snowmass Ski Area after getting lost off the backside of Snowmass Ski Area on Monday. The two men separated after getting lost to try to find their way back in-bounds but were forced to call 911 around 5 p.m. Because the two separated, Mountain Rescue Aspen had to create two search areas and find each man individually.
A 20-year-old from Asheville, North Carolina, and a 22-year-old from Utica, New York, were able to relay their latitude and longitude via text to emergency responders. MRA arrived in Snowmass soon after the call, split into three teams and went into the field with the assistance of Snowmass Ski Patrol around 6:30 p.m.
The 20-year-old was able to reach the edge of the ski area, where he was located by ski patrollers and taken to safety, though the second man was still missing. Then, at around 8:30 p.m., the 22-year-old was found by a search party nearly a mile from the ski boundary. He was then transported to Elk Camp on a snowmobile with the use of headlamps. It was about 10 degrees outside when he was found and all parties were off the mountain by 10 p.m.
The men had taken the Cirque Poma lift up, hiked over to the Hanging Valley Wall and dropped into the backcountry. The Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office and MRA reiterated skiers and snowboarders should be responsible when skiing outside of the ski boundary as avalanche conditions are still “moderate” and snow evaluation is recommended before venturing out of bounds.
Five out of 22 member ski areas have adopted pay-to-play policies when it comes to skinning, snowshoeing or hiking up the mountain.