WEST YELLOWSTONE A snowmobiler was separated from his party on Friday off the South Plateau Trail 15 miles south of West Yellowstone.
The West Yellowstone Police Department reports receiving a 911 call from the 55-year-old California man’s sons at 6:30 p.m. The sons said they became separated about two hours prior to the call.
With cell phone forensics indicating the missing snowmobiler’s last location as approximately 10 miles west of town, rescuers from the Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue West Yellowstone Division responded.
Teams of rescuers were unsure of the man’s exact location and searched both south and west attempting to find him.
The man was located about 9:00 p.m. by the rescue team on the southbound search. They found him in about 5 feet of snow, 20 miles from town down a very steep embankment.
Navigating tough terrain with deep snow and poor visibility, rescuers reached the man and retrieved his buried, upside-down snowmobile. He was uninjured and was able to ride out on his own.
The snowmobiler said he missed a hairpin corner when trying to find his way back to town after becoming separated from his sons. He went off a steep drop-off and tumbled down the hill.
In pitch-black darkness and deep snow--the West Yellowstone area received between 4 and 12 inches of new snow Friday--the man couldn’t make it back up the hill and was convinced he would have to attempt to survive the night.
According to Deputy Sheriff Mike Gavigan, it was “another success story” for Search and Rescue.
“It is personally the most snow I have ever snowmobiled in, super tough conditions. The West Yellowstone team responded amazingly as I have come to expect,” Gavigan said in a press release.
Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin would like to remind snowmobilers to know your limitations. A fun adventure into this amazing backcountry can quickly turn into an emergency. Always remember to ride with a partner, stay with your partner, carry a reliable means of communication and be prepared to survive the night if you should have to.