MOFFAT COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – Late last week, pair of persistent explorers found themselves in trouble for the second time in three weeks in the same section of Dinosaur National Monument. The two were rescued after getting stuck in deep snow in late February; they were not so fortunate this time.
One man, a 58-year-old from Deer Trail, was found dead by rescuers.
The other, a 65-year-old from Thornton, was treated and released from a hospital.
Searchers found the men Saturday. They had been reported missing four days earlier.
“I don’t believe these gentlemen intended to get in as far as they did,” said Lt. Chip McIntyre of the Moffat County Sheriff’s Office.
McIntyre said the pair rented a pair of snowmobiles in February and became stuck on the western side of the Colorado-Utah border. They were able to call 911, however, and rescuers pulled them out the same day.
The two again rented snowmobiles last Wednesday and set out in the same area of Wild Mountain, though in a different direction. On board, they had water bottles, candy bars, and a copy of Forrest Fenn’s “The Thrill of the Chase.”
Fenn’s 2010 publication announced a hidden treasure worth millions of dollars waiting to be found somewhere in the Rocky Mountains north of Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Four Coloradans have now lost their lives since 2016 in their search for it.
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Moffat County’s McIntyre said the two men were not properly prepared for a long day in the backcountry, nevermind any type of overnight emergency. The two were both wearing insufficient coats and blue jeans.
“The party who survived was dressed better,” he said.
They were found by a helicopter crew about a mile from their abandoned snowmobiles and a short distance, McIntyre said, from a cliff.
“The backcountry and wild areas are open to explore,” said Sonya Popelka, spokesperson for the National Park Service and Dinosaur National Monument. “(But) people need to be aware of their own limitations.”
Both McIntyre and Popelka referenced a pair of rafters who were rescued last fall — also while searching for the Forrest Fenn hidden treasure, and also poorly prepared for a wilderness mission.
“Their intent was to raft back up the (Green) River,” McIntyre said, “which is virtually impossible.”
MCSO and Dinosaur National Monument authorities are conducting a joint investigation into the incident. The surviving man has not been identified.
Nor has the Moffat County Coroner has not released the identity of the deceased.