Rescuers save Fryingpan snowmobilers
Aspen, CO Colorado
THOMASVILLE, Colo. ” A group of six snowmobilers was rescued from frigid and potentially life-threatening conditions early Saturday morning after their sleds got stuck in deep snow in the Fryingpan River Basin.
West Eagle County Search and Rescue found the stranded snowmobilers shortly after midnight Saturday and transported them to their destination at the Woods Lake cabins, according to Cleve Williams, a member of the rescue team.
The group of four adults and two children planned to make a roughly 10-mile trip from about 1.5 miles east of Thomasville, above Ruedi Reservoir, to the Woods Lake Ranch, each on a snowmobile. They departed at 3:30 p.m. for an overnight stay and made it about 8.5 miles when they got stuck.
A member of the group, Rusty Scott of Denver, had arranged to call his brother in Aspen once they arrived at Woods Lake Ranch. When the call didn’t come, the brother called the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office. The search and rescue team for the Basalt/El Jebel area was dispatched at about 9 p.m.
Williams said the stranded group started walking toward the ranch after their machines got stuck, but they “post-holed” in 18 to 20 inches of new snow. The group was familiar with the area, experienced and well-equipped with food and avalanche safety equipment, he said. Nevertheless, the temperatures presented a problem.
Williams said the rescue team found the sleds, then found the group a short distance up the road at about midnight. By that time, the temperature had dropped to 4 degrees. The stranded snowmobilers had dug a snow cave, put the two kids in it and covered them with a tarp.
“All of them were really cold,” Williams said. “It was possibly life-threatening for a couple of them.”
He estimated that the temperature in that area dropped to 15 below zero later in the morning.
The rescue team shuttled the group to the cabins, then returned to the group’s snowmobiles, got them unstuck and delivered them to the ranch. By that time the trail was packed out well enough to diminish the chances of the group getting stuck when they left Woods Lake Ranch the next day, Williams said.
The six-member rescue team cleared the field at 3 a.m. and headed back to Basalt and El Jebel.
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Aspen Sister Cities members dedicated a plaque in Sister Cities Plaza to Don Sheeley, who served as president of the organization from 1998 until his death in 2017.