Carbondale couple safe after 2 nights in snow cave

Two backcountry skiers spent two cold, wet nights in a snow cave after encountering whiteout conditions on the way to a hut near Aspen.

The Carbondale couple eventually made it to their destination of the Goodwin-Green hut on Sunday, tired but in good spirits, the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Department said.

The skiers, who were not identified but described as being experienced in the backcountry, had become disoriented in a blizzard Friday and one of them sent a text message to a brother about their plans to dig a snow cave. The brother received two more text messages Saturday morning, including one asking for a weather report, but he contacted authorities after no further communication occurred. A Mountain Rescue Aspen team of two snowmobilers set out Saturday but encountered zero visibility and high winds and had to return to town.

Rescuers already had headed out on skis and snowmobiles Sunday morning when the couple sent family another text saying they were headed to meet the rest of their group at the hut. One rescue team continued to the hut to confirm their arrival.

Members of the hut group skied out via Richmond Ridge after deciding not to return by their originally planned route in the Express Creek drainage off Castle Creek Road because of high avalanche danger.

The Goodwin-Greene hut is part of the Braun and Friends hut system and managed by the 10th Mountain Division Hut Association. The hut is at 11,680 feet, near timberline, about 12 miles south of Aspen.

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