Back Country Rescue

(Gallatin County, Mont.)  On Wednesday February 27, 2019 at 10:38 pm., the West Yellowstone Police Department Dispatch center received a 911 call reporting two missing snowmobilers. Three males were snowmobiling in an extreme backcountry area and became separated.  One rider made it out to a safe location and contacted 911 to report his friends missing and presumed stuck.  He was able to provide an approximate GPS location for last known location of his friends.  He also reported that his friends had no overnight survival gear or any type of light source.

The lost snowmobilers, a 29 & 26-year-old male from Minnesota, were last reported in the Teepee Creek basin, 16 miles north of West Yellowstone. The GPS location showed the terrain to be heavily wooded.  Due to extremely heavy snow over the last several days, the area in which the snowmobilers were believed to be in was very difficult to access and air resources were unable to fly. The decision was made to wait for daylight to send a ground crew into the area the following day.

Personnel from the Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue in West Yellowstone, Carisch Helicopter out of Bozeman, and Custer Gallatin National Forest Service responded.  A group of nine rescue personnel responded on snowmobiles to the GPS location provided.

A ground team in addition to a helicopter from Carisch Helicopters were sent to the area to begin the search the following morning. Inclement weather and heavy snowfall forced the helicopter to turn back, however the ground team was able to make radio contact with the snowmobilers approximately one hour into the search. An additional hour was necessary for rescuers to make it to the snowmobilers who were uninjured and in good health. Rescue personnel were able to assist the missing snowmobilers back to town.

Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin would like to remind snowmobilers to be careful when recreating off trail and to know your limitations.  A fun adventure into the amazing backcountry areas we have access to can quickly turn into an emergency situation.  Always remember to ride with a partner, stay with your partner, carry a reliable means of communication in case of an emergency, and be prepared to survive the night if you should have to.

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