Missing snowmobilers found, appear to be OK

— Three snowmobilers who spent Saturday night in the backcountry after separating from a larger group were found in good condition Sunday, according to Routt County Search and Rescue.

They men were spotted by helicopter early Sunday morning about 4 or 5 miles from where they separated with other members of their group Saturday afternoon, Search and Rescue incident commander Scott Havener said. By noon, a team of 11 Search and Rescue volunteers had reached the men, who appeared to be in good condition, Havener said.

"Without the helicopter, we would have been searching for a long, long time because it was a 15- to 20-square-mile area that they could have been in," Havener said.

Search and Rescue workers found the men - who Havener said were experienced snowmobilers and were thought to be well-prepared - in an area called Beaver Basin, north of Pearl Lake in the northern part of Routt County.

Havener said he stopped command on the search at 12:30 a.m. Sunday and resumed work at the Search and Rescue Barn at about 5:30 a.m. A search team of snowmobilers and a helicopter set out at about 7 a.m. Sunday.

One of the men is from Steamboat Springs and the other two are from Wyoming, Havener said. As of noon Sunday, Havener said he did not think the men had a map, compass or GPS device with them.

The area where the three men were found is about two miles from the Farwell Mountain area where Search and Rescue workers found another stuck snowmobiler Saturday night.

That search involved a rider whose sled got stuck somewhere near Farwell Mountain on Saturday afternoon. The man called for help at about 4 p.m., and Search and Rescue crews reached him at about 8 p.m.

When searchers found the man, he was uninjured and had started a small fire. He was equipped with a cell phone, GPS and a talk radio, and he was able to give searchers his coordinates, Havener said. Searchers returned with the man and his snowmobile at about 11:30 p.m. Saturday.

Havener stressed the importance of being prepared for outdoor activities and advised that people carry enough equipment to spend a night outside. Snowmobilers should carry a map, compass and GPS device with them, notify friends or family about where they're going and when they should return, be familiar with the area they are heading into and be aware of avalanche danger.

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