Originally published January 24, 2010 at 10:43p.m., updated January 25, 2010 at 12:00a.m.
Steamboat Springs Routt County Search and Rescue volunteers are expected to begin searching this morning for a group of five local men who didn’t return home from a snowmobiling trip in North Routt County on Sunday.
Search and Rescue member Darrel Levingston said the men, ages 25 to 33, set out at 9 a.m. Sunday from a parking lot near the Columbine Cabins, north of Steamboat Lake. The men were due back by 4 p.m.
Levingston said the men, who are from Steamboat Springs and Oak Creek, are thought to have good backcountry experience and likely were capable of building a fire and staying warm overnight Sunday.
“We do know there are no medical issues, and we don’t have any major concerns about their safety,” Levingston said Sunday night.
Because of the vastness of the backcountry in North Routt County and because searchers aren’t sure where the men were snowmobiling, search efforts won’t begin until about 9 a.m. today. Levingston said the men could have gone to California Park, Big Red Park or Hahn’s Peak.
Levingston said the majority of snowmobiler searches are the result of stuck sleds, and searchers think there’s a chance the men will find their own way out at daybreak. There also was the possibility the men could find their way back to their cars overnight Sunday.
Searchers haven’t had any contact with the men, whose cell phones go straight to voicemail. Searchers have spoken to three of the men’s wives and one of their mothers.
Today’s search efforts, if it reaches that point, will first involve teams of snowmobilers, Levingston said. If necessary — and if the weather cooperates — a helicopter could be called in this afternoon.