Wasatch County SAR Rescued Several Snowmobilers This Week

Wasatch County Search & Rescue have been busy this week rescuing a handful of stranded snowmobilers.

Wasatch County Search & Rescue, also known as SAR, learned about their first pair of stranded snowmobilers at around 4:15 on Tuesday afternoon. SAR Captain Kam Kohler said a 911 call alerted rescuers that a group of four people had become stuck in the Soldier Creek area.

“They were heading into this cabin and they got separated,” Kohler explained. “One guy just went down off the side of a mountain figured he’d just go down there and turn around and he got into a big hole and just couldn’t get himself out. He dug and dug and dug and dug for he said two and a half to three hours and could not get the snowmobile out. He didn’t leave the snowmobile he stayed right with it, but he still couldn’t get it out. Getting stuck in these winter conditions on a snowmobile is actually very very easy to get stuck. Very difficult to get out if you don’t know what you’re doing.”

SAR then transported the group back to the highway.

The more dramatic rescue came on Wednesday around 5:20 pm when SAR learned of two Texas men missing in the Lake Creek area. The two men had rented snowmobiles and been dropped off at the Lake Creek Trailhead at 9:00 am that morning. After the men did not return the rental company did some searching before notifying SAR.

“We deployed our SAR teams east of Heber up Lake Creek over Timberlakes to the east,” Kohler continued. “They were actually in the Duchesne drainage that drains down towards Tabiona. The father and son were riding in the storm. One of them got stuck and then they got separated and they’d been separated for a couple of hours and they both ended up with their snowmobile stuck and started walking. We found the father first because he was higher up the drainage, higher up the mountain. Hypothermia was setting in rapidly, he’d walked a long way in deep snow. We threw him on a sled and got him out quick.”

After locating the 55-year-old father nearly 15 rescuers began slowly combing the drainage in near zero visibility for the 20-year-old son. Kohler says they pause occasionally to yell out and listen for a response.

“Because he might be under a tree somewhere trying to stay warm,” Kohler said. “So, we stop and yell every couple of minutes, and we heard somebody yell back. He was down in the bottom of the drainage by the creek trying to hole up under a pine tree and get out of the weather.”

Wasatch County Search & Rescue shared a video of the visibility conditions, you can also find that video on KPCW’s Facebook page. SAR reports that both men are doing well with no lasting effects from the hypothermia. Kohler says that the men were inexperienced and getting stuck in those conditions was most likely unavoidable, but not bringing any survival gear was their mistake.

“Anytime you go into the backcountry people need to go more prepared,” Kohler explained. “It’s not a walk in a city park, you’re going into the wilderness. Even if they’d had a simple way to make a fire or if they’d known how to start a fire from their snowmobile you can survive any night. If you can’t light a fire, it’s going to be a very difficult night for you. Especially when you get wet and these guys were wet because they had been walking in snow for quite some time. If you go to the backcountry and you get in trouble its not a situation where you can just make a phone call, and somebody can come running. In this case, no cell coverage, they’re on the other side of the mountain and you’re on your own until search and rescue can come. When we’re in a situation like this where we can’t see it’s a total white out storm it makes getting there and finding you very very difficult.”

Captain Kohler recommends that if you don’t have experience in the backcountry to take someone who has the experience such as a guide.

See the original article at KPCW.org.

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Heber Valley Artisan Cheese held their 2nd annual Ice Sculptures Exhibition this weekend. Several local businesses sponsored the sculptures being displayed. There were also two different ice carving demonstrations. The event was free to the public.

The annual event began last year when Carolee Kohler saw ice sculpting on a Hallmark movie and thought it would be a fun idea for their farm. They are also considering a woodcarving event.

According to Lindsey Strother, social media and events coordinator, each sculpture takes between 1-3 hours to carve. “We contacted Amazing Ice Creations back in November, and we reached out to local companies to sponsor the ice sculptures,” she said. “Yesterday morning around 9 am, they came in a massive truck and dropped them all off for us, and we set them up.”

Along with the ice sculptures, sponsors receive a sign and canopy for the display and social media marketing. The sponsors decide what they want to have sculpted. After the event, they can take the ice sculptures and display them at their businesses. The creations normally last a couple of weeks. Some will be left in the field and can be viewed throughout the week.

The ice this year included Olaf, company logos, animals, and other items. Darron Kingston, the sculptor, has carved ice for over 10 years with his dad. According to Kingston, “I like sculptures that give me a challenge. Here, for example, my favorite was the lumberjack.” One of his favorite past creations was a 9-foot bear.

Grant Kohler, owner of Heber Valley Artisan Cheese, explained, “We decided to do something that was free and something that people could just get out and come and enjoy. Especially this year with Covid, it seems like Januarys are slow months. People are looking for things to be able to get outside and do.” He continued, “Businesses pay in and buy the sculptures, we have them sculpted, and then we just let people come and enjoy them.” Kohler estimated around 3,000 to 4,000 people will stop by the event.

The dairy farm also offers cheese-making classes and tours of their new robotic barn. “The tours are everyday except Sunday,” according to Kohler. “People hayride over, intermingle with the cows, see the barn and amenities, and watch the cows be milked. The cows will literally go get milked on their own.” Tickets for the tours and other events are available on the Heber Valley Artisan Cheese website: https://hebervalleyartisancheese.com/.