Jan. 9, 2018
(West Yellowstone, Mont.) On 01/07/2018 at 3:47 p.m. a forest service law enforcement officer was contacted at Lionhead Trailhead by a wayward snowmobiler who said his three companions had entered an area that he was uncomfortable riding in because of the steep slope and deep snow conditions. The 16 year old male from Bozeman decided not to enter the area and instead stayed on the trail and followed it to the trailhead. He had been texting with his companions who provided GPS coordinates of their location however indicated they had become stuck and were attempting to extricate their snowmobiles. By 5:16 p.m. it had become apparent that they would be unable to get their snowmobiles unstuck and find their way out of the steep canyon they had entered. Volunteer Rescuers from Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue in West Yellowstone, and the Forest Service responded to assist.
Information received via text message with the snowmobilers indicated that they were located in a deep canyon near Lionhead Mountain approximately 15 miles west of West Yellowstone. They reported that they were getting cold but had been able to get a fire going. Rescuers split into two teams attempting to find the best way into and out of the area. When found the two MSU students from Bozeman and one 22 year old male from Denver Colorado were escorted out of the canyon. Due to the steep terrain and deep snow present in the canyon, rescue teams had an extremely difficult time getting the snowmobiles unstuck and back out to the trail.
Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin would like to remind snowmobilers that it’s not uncommon to become disoriented and/or stuck in steep mountainous terrain. Proper equipment and survival gear can make all the difference when faced with the possibility of spending a significant amount of time out in the elements. Snowmobilers are also encouraged to only ride areas within their skill level.