It had all the ingredients to make for a tragic ending. That was avoided, thanks to the determination of search and rescue teams.

No food or water. A history of heart problems. White-out conditions. A rapidly dropping temperature. Where could this rider be, and in what condition?

The Montana Outdoor Radio Show/ reports that those were the challenges facing organizations in both Montana and Idaho this past weekend, according to Gallatin County Search and Rescue. They responded to a call for assistance from Freemont County (Idaho) Search and Rescue, headquartered in St. Anthony, Idaho. Efforts were underway Saturday afternoon to find a snowmobiler that had gotten separated from the rest of a group of riders. And conditions were not in their favor.

The immediate response was overwhelming, with volunteers from Gallatin County's West Yellowstone and Big Sky Divisions assisting in the search, in addition to others from Custer National Forest Service and Hebgen Basin Rural Fire District.

Yet, all that support did not make for an easy or quick search. Not in these conditions and not with daylight fading. But finally, perseverance and determination won out over exhaustion.

A group of volunteers located the snowmobiler about 8 miles outside West Yellowstone. The rider was stuck in very deep snow amid the trees. With only a brief stop to warm up, the rider was assisted back to town, cold but otherwise uninjured.

While it goes without saying, Search and Rescue teams like it to be said to help reinforce the importance of safety, safety and more safety: Stay with your group and ride within your abilities. It’s imperative that snowmobilers carry enough survival gear to do your best to stay healthy until help can arrive. Double-check any and all communication devices, too.

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