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Snowmobilers Extracted from Avalanche Exposure

RESCUE PROFILE: Matt Oliver
#15932
Matt Oliver

Matt Oliver and four friends picked a beautiful day for snowmobiling in Steamboat Springs, CO. They set off on their ride around 10 AM and traveled a familiar route. A few hours into their ride, they decided to take a different path back to their vehicles. The new path led them to a creek ravine and they realized they were getting into dangerous avalanche terrain. They began strategizing the best way out.

The group of five experienced snowmobilers vacillated about driving back through their old tracks, but after determining their location via their GPS system, they decided it was safer to head down the creek for another half mile rather than driving back uphill. The thick blankets of snow made it very difficult for them to make much distance and they knew they couldn't continue on without putting themselves at a greater risk.

Luckily, Matt and his friends were well prepared with saws, thermals, boiling pots and Matt's SPOT Satellite GPS Messenger. "I pressed the S.O.S. on my SPOT to alert GEOS International Emergency Rescue Coordination Center, knowing that it would not be until morning when search and rescue could safely come help us," commented Matt. They made a fire and set up camp for the night. Meanwhile, GEOS contacted Matt's mom and dad to let them know of the situation. The family was advised that it would take some time for search and rescue to assist due to the situation of snow and avalanche danger.

After a cold night (-15°F), Route County Search and Rescue arrived on the scene. Two hours and three quarters of a mile later, they were able to get the snowmobilers and their rides to safety.  “It was a huge team effort,” Matt says.

Grateful for the efforts of those involved, Matt reflects, "Route County Search and Rescue, a volunteer organization, risked their lives to help people they did not know. They came in with great attitudes and were so positive. They were there for one mission - to ensure we were okay and I thank them for their help!"

Matt reiterates, "When you are lost, it can be hard to tell someone where you are. With SPOT, people were able to formulate a plan and get us out of there safely. Having my SPOT eliminated a lot of concern from my family and reduced rescue time. It's great peace of mind."
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