Mission started with phone call around 1900 from member Forest Chiavario – wife’s nephew was out hunting alone, caught in snow storm, cold, wet, scared, and not sure how to get back to his car. Subject details: Dawson Payton, 20yo, near Yellow Aster Butte, beer hunting, not experienced nor familiar with area, shot bear around 1500, got dis-oriented and tired chasing it. Subject had InReach and could see where he was on the map. Weather: winter storm warning – snowy, windy, and with low visibility. 12-18″ of snow accumulated up high.
Forest calmed him down and instructed to stop, eat, drink, get back over on the trail (visible on GPS), and head back toward the trailhead best he could.
Plan developed: Forest and friend Tyson would go up to get him, and stay in touch via InReach. I’ll get in touch with WCSAR, and get a BMRC standby team ready to go. Provided subject was able to make progress, then good, but otherwise, we’ll get standby team mobilized.
Called Ben Woods, who was already aware of mission (had gotten call from state because of InReach SOS). Coordinates put him just south of tarns down and west of YAB. Ben said he’d meet Forest/Tyson at Glacier Fire to get them radios. Ben positioned himself up near ski area and maintained radio contact with Forest. Ben informed me around 2145 that subject had not made any progress and was holed up in trees farther away from trail. Forest/Tyson were making slow but steady progress but had not been able to contact subject via InReach. Forest/Tyson did not have any shelter with them. Decision made at that point to mobilize standby team – Chris Ellis, TJ Holert, Elias Jordan, and Jesse Arroyo. Their mission was to bring emergency shelter, clothes, and sleeping bags, or be able to help with extrication. They were to get in touch with Ben/Forest once at trailhead. Team was ultimately turned back around midnight when Forest/Tyson located subject, and rendered him fit to walk-out himself. Subject initially complained he couldn’t move his legs, but responded well to hot tea, food and skittles. Subject was able to walk out but registered a body temp of 92 once at trailhead (Ben had mobilized Kendal Fire).
Lessons learned:
* InReach is good, but not fit for reliable communication. Radios are best.
* Would have mobilized standby team earlier had I known subject was stopped and farther away.
* know the physical fitness of other people involved (slowed Forest down a bit)
* consider bringing emergency shelter…. weigh against speed of hasty team.