Snowmobiler rescued from 12,000 feet up on Ruby

“It was just a little out of the ordinary”

A snowmobiler was rescued from high up on Ruby Peak on Saturday after falling over a cliff and breaking his femur.

 

 

Thirty-nine year old Richard Holcroft from Breckenridge was transported safely to Gunnison Valley Hospital following a five-hour search and recue operation.
According to Crested Butte Search and Rescue public information officer Nicholas Kempin, Holcroft was performing a maneuver called high marking on the ridge leading up to Ruby. High marking is performed by speeding as fast as possible up a hill with a high-performance snowmobile, and turning around before the snowmobile loses power and traction on the slope. But on one run, during the descent Holcroft lost control on a small jump and then fell over a 60-foot cliff. He crashed and came to a stop on the slope below, but was stuck close to 12,000 feet up.
“It was just a little out of the ordinary,” Kempin says. “We go out and rescue snowmobilers—that’s not uncommon—just not that far up. We ended up lowering him roughly 2,700 feet.”
Kempin says search and rescue teams were called into action at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday. The Mt. Crested Butte police department also assisted in the rescue. Kempin says it didn’t take much time to get to the base of Ruby, which is located near the Irwin town site. But the 10-member search and rescue team didn’t have snowmobiles powerful enough to climb any farther. Fortunately, there were plenty of snowmobilers out enjoying the weather.
“We lucked out and had some bystanders there who had some high-performance sleds…. They actually ferried us and all the gear up to this pretty high point because they had sleds that could get up there,” Kempin says. “After we got him packaged and got his injuries assessed, the lowering actually went pretty quick.”
Still, Kempin says it took nine lengths of 300-foot rope to lower the man to a point where he could be safely extracted by snowmobile. Altogether, the descent took less than two hours, he says.
Holcroft ended up with a broken femur—his snowmobile was a little banged up but was still running.
Kempin says the team was back at the cache and wrapped up by 5:30 p.m.
He says Holcroft is recovering and in good condition.

Check Also

School district continues housing debate

Not ready to adopt housing action plan without more details By Kendra Walker The Gunnison …