WASATCH COUNTY, Utah — A snowmobiler is okay after spending the night stranded in the backcountry in a winter snowstorm.
Rescuers say the 26-year-old and his friend got separated when weather conditions deteriorated. The man survived by digging a hole under a tree until morning.
“The conditions Wednesday night were not good,” said Wasatch County Search and Rescue commander Kam Kohler.
In video captured overnight, search volunteers are seen in blizzard-like conditions, including strong winds, limited visibility and heavy snow.
Kohler said the man got his sled stuck in about two-and-a-half new feet of snow in the storm in Campbell Hollow Canyon.
“It was not a good night to be stuck on the mountain,” Kohler said.
The bad weather didn’t stop volunteers from responding to the call at 8:30 p.m., but conditions grew too dangerous and the team suspended the search around 2 a.m. Thursday morning.
Meanwhile, the stranded man made the right call, according to Kohler.
“He hunkered down when the weather was really bad and was able at first light, to come out and take off walking.”
Shortly after daybreak, as crews gathered to continue looking, the stranded man surprised everyone, walking toward the crews hungry, tired and cold.
“He got caught in a bad situation but he did a pretty good job to get through it completely unscathed," Kohler said. "No frostbite. He was completely unscathed this morning.”
Wasatch County search crews have been busy. In 2018, they broke an old record by responding to more than 120 incidents. So far this year, they’ve responded to more than 60.
Kohler would like to remind anyone going outdoors to prepare for the worst, including gear needed to stay overnight in a snowstorm.