Missing skiers located unharmed | PostIndependent.com

Missing skiers located unharmed

Four Denver friends, reported as overdue from a trip to an Aspen-area ski hut, were found Wednesday holed up in a cabin left from the old mining town of Dorchester in Taylor Park, according to the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office.

The skiers, who were not injured, were identified as Robert Burns, Andrew Burns, Dan Sheeks and Matt Smith. They were found shortly before noon in the Dorchester Guard Station, located about 8 miles south of the Goodwin-Green Hut that was their destination for a three-night stay. The hut is south of Aspen, and is part of the Alfred Braun hut system.

Members of Mountain Rescue Aspen, West Eagle Search and Rescue, Crested Butte Search and Rescue, Western State Mountain Rescue and sheriff’s deputies were all involved in a search mission that began Tuesday evening.

A two-person snowmobile team from Mountain Rescue Aspen headed to the hut Tuesday evening and spent the night there. They were unable to locate the ski party. On Wednesday morning, Mountain Rescue and West Eagle Search and Rescue sent in a four-person team on snowmobiles and found the skiers.

Poor weather conditions kept air operations grounded throughout the search mission. Thirty to 40 inches of new snow in the backcountry, along with strong westerly winds, added to the complexity of the search, authorities said.

An area of about 250 square miles had been identified as the primary search area. It extended from Richmond Ridge south to Taylor Park Reservoir and from the Castle Creek Valley/Express Creek area to the Difficult Creek drainage.

As of 2:20 p.m. Wednesday, the skiers had been turned over to Crested Butte rescue personnel and were expected to exit the wilderness in the Crested Butte area.

The men had booked the Goodwin-Green Hut for the nights of March 26-28, but told friends they would exit the backcountry on Monday, March 28. Heavy snow fell Monday in the mountains around Aspen; when the party did not return to their vehicle by Tuesday afternoon, the search was initiated.

The Goodwin-Green Hut is located off Richmond Ridge, which extends south off the summit of Aspen Mountain. It can be accessed from the ridge and via Express Creek Road, south of Aspen. The party’s car was parked at Ashcroft, near the bottom of Express Creek Road.

According to the Gunnison County Historic Preservation Commission website, the guard station was constructed in 1905 in a remote area of Taylor Park, adjacent to the stagecoach road from Tincup to Aspen. The building functioned as a post office, general store and stage stop before Dorchester was abandoned, by 1920. The land and structures there, including the guard station, reverted to Forest Service ownership.


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