Moffat County snowcat removed from California Park after Dec. 30 accident |

Moffat County snowcat removed from California Park after Dec. 30 accident

Northwest Colorado Snowmobile Club hosting avalanche seminars

The snowcat equipment belonging to the Northwest Colorado Snowmobile Club, pictured encased in ice at Routt County's California Park, has since been extracted and sent to Grand Junction for repairs. The machinery is used to groom trails for snowmobilers.
Courtesy Photo

The Northwest Colorado Snowmobile Club’s snowcat is no longer stuck in Routt County’s California Park.

The piece of equipment, used for grooming recreational snowmobile trails, was removed Sunday by a D-6 Cat rented from Wagner Equipment after an accident Dec. 30 when club members Duane Core and Leeland Mischke inadvertently drove over an abandoned beaver pond resulting in the vehicle’s predicament.

During this incident, the two stranded Moffat County men were sought out by several area search and rescue agencies.

The snowcat was shipped to Grand Junction’s Prinoth shop, which sold the club the item more than one year ago for $170,000, according to club member Dave Watson.

Club member Joe Tonso said he is confident the shop will be able to get the machinery back in top condition and to make sure the water exposure doesn’t cause permanent damage.

“We’ve got first priority with them, and we’re hoping to be able to get out and be grooming by next week,” he said.

A concern is whether or not the club’s insurance will cover it, he added.

Northwest Colorado Snowmobile Club grooms more than 100 miles worth of trails in the region, and following the recent accident, members will be exercising caution henceforth so a similar occurrence doesn’t happen, Tonso said, emphasizing the club’s upcoming safety seminars, already planned before the snowcat got stuck.

Avalanche training clinics for the public will be offered at 6 p.m. Jan. 16 in the Craig Middle School auditorium and at 9 a.m. Jan. 17 at the Freeman Reservoir trailhead.

Whether snowmobiling, skiing, snowshoeing or any other kind of recreation, people need to be mindful of such opportunities to learn more about snow conditions and searching for those affected by the natural disaster, Tonso said.

“It’s really important for outdoorsmen of all kinds to get up-to-date instruction,” he said.

Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or