Sunday at 2:26 p.m. West Yellowstone Police Department dispatch received a call from a group of three snowmobilers from Minnesota who indicated they were having difficult locating the trail due to the extremely windy and snowy conditions. Dispatch advised them to hang up and call 911 to get a better location. The GPS coordinates indicated that they were located in the area of Horse Butte approximately 10 miles north of West Yellowstone. The snowmobilers indicated that they would remain at that location and wait for the weather to improve.
At approximately 6:27 p.m. the snowmobiler again called 911, reporting that they were still at the location and still unable to locate the trail system. The snowmobilers were uninjured but were getting cold and were concerned that they would get lost if they attempted to search for the trail. Due to the whiteout conditions and rapidly dropping temperatures, the decision was made to send a rescue crew to retrieve the snowmobilers. Rescuers from the Sheriff’s Search and Rescue in West Yellowstone and the Custer Gallatin National Forest Service responded to assist with the rescue.
As Rescuers made their way to the lost snowmobilers, they encountered a second group of snowmobilers who were stuck and having difficulty finding their way. Rescuers retrieved the first group of lost snowmobilers, assisted the second group in getting unstuck, and escorted both groups of snowmobilers safely back to West Yellowstone.
Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin would like to remind snowmobilers that the weather plays a significant part in the outcome of your outdoor adventures. Wind accompanied by heavy snow can create ground blizzard conditions, making it nearly impossible to find your way and increasing the risk of frostbite and hypothermia exponentially. As always, having a reliable form of communication is paramount.
Photo courtesy of the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office