A Wyoming snowmobiler got lucky Sunday, emerging unhurt and on his feet after an avalanche swept his snowmobile some 200 feet down a steep slope near West Yellowstone.
Robert Buxman of Casper, Wyo., was pulled from the steep Denny Creek Canyon about 2:30 p.m. Sunday by members of the West Yellowstone Search and Rescue Team, said West Yellowstone Police Sgt. Kev-in Burns.The mishap occurred about one mile south of the area where a snowmobiler died in an avalanche on Jan. 18, 1990, said Patricia Hesch of West Yellowstone, investigating officer for the U.S. Forest Service.
Buxman had been riding with about seven other snowmobilers Sunday morning when his snowmobile edged too close to a ridge, Hesch said. Buxman jumped off, and the snowmobile dropped about 300 feet down the steep ridge.
Buxman and two friends, Rick Binks of Casper and Jason Kannegieter of Roosevelt, Utah, walked down the ridge in steep snow to retrieve it, Hesch said.
When the trio tried to push the machine down the hill, it triggered a small avalanche, about 40 feet wide and 200 feet long, Hesch said.
The three men were standing above the rolling snow and did not get caught in the avalanche, but the snowmobile was carried about 200 feet further down the slope.
At that point, other snowmobilers on the ridge watching the trio lost radio contact with them. Some of them rode out to a restaurant and called West Yellowstone police, who called out about 10 members of the West Yellowstone volunteer rescue team.
Kannegieter and Binks were able to walk back up the steep cliff, but Buxman was not.
Rescuers were able to get to within 200 feet of Buxman. But, fearful of triggering another avalanche, they pulled him up the slope by rope through snow "about up to his armpits," Burns said.
"He was completely worn out," but uninjured, Burns added.