The following is a press release from Gallatin County:
Separated and missing skiers, overdue snowmobiles and a personal locator emergency beacon activation kept Sheriff’s SAR teams working Wednesday night into Thursday afternoon. Thursday Night 2 skiers became separated from each other in the History Rock area of Hyalite Canyon. When one of the skiers did not arrive at the trail head their partner drove to the valley and called the Sheriff’s Office. With help from the Rae/Sourdough Fire Department the missing skier was intercepted at the bottom of Hyalite Canyon after catching a ride out with a passing motorist.
Also Wednesday at 10:20pm Gallatin County Dispatch received a call reporting three overdue snowmobilers. After some investigation it was learned they were missing from the Taylors Fork area south of Big Sky. All parties were reported to be experienced snowmobilers with significant equipment.
Sheriff’s Search and Rescue at Big Sky with Sheriff’s Deputy Coordinators began a search of the area using snowmobiles. The searchers on snowmobiles were able to travel a long ways but the search was eventually suspended on Thursday December 13, 2012 at about 04:15 am due to the dangerous conditions mixed with darkness.
Searchers continued their efforts at first light and added a helicopter to the search. At about 09:15 am, the helicopter located the parties. The searchers on snowmobiles confirmed they were all right and made sure they made it back up the trail to their vehicle.
Sheriff Gootkin is happy the snowmobilers did good to stay where they were when it got dark. But he does suggest that they and anyone else traveling in the backcountry always let someone know exactly where they are going. This way, searchers do not have to search for a starting point.
And at 3:42 pm on Thursday Tinsdale Air Force Base in Florida received a PLB “personal Locator beacon” emergency activation in the Bridger Mountains. After multiple satellite passes it was narrowed down to the area of the ski lift at Bridger Bowl. Sheriff Gootkin stated that once or twice a year we get false activations of PLBs mostly because people confuse them with avalanche beacons that are supposed to be turned on when you are in the hills. PLBs are activated only when the party wants to send a message.