Trooper, snowmobiler spend chilly night in cabin

Posted: Sunday, January 27, 2008

FAIRBANKS - An Alaska State Trooper and a stranded snowmobiler he was rescuing were forced to spend a frigid night in a backcountry cabin at the foot of the Brooks Range.

Wildlife trooper Andy Evarts and Bob Ekmann were rescued the following day about 25 miles east of Coldfoot by a helicopter crew with Alyeska Pipeline Service Co., troopers said.

No one was injured despite temperatures that plunged to 40 degrees below zero.

"They were probably more bored than anything else," trooper Lt. Lantz Dahlke said.

Evarts received a call Wednesday that Ekmann hadn't made it back to Wiseman.

Ekmann set out by snowmobile Jan. 18 on with a trapper friend for Chandalar Lake, where he has property. The men were breaking trail together, troopers said.

Snow conditions promoted Ekmann to discontinue the trip. He was supposed to meet up later with his friend for the return, but Ekmann failed to show at the meeting place.

Evarts set out to search by snowmobile, but the trail conditions were poor. So he decided to continue the search by trooper plane.

Within 15 minutes, Evarts found the cabin. Ekmann had put a red tarp on the trail, signaling distress.

Ekmann was in good shape, but he was low on fuel and food.

"Physically, he was exhausted," Evarts said. "He wasn't in a condition where he could have walked out."

Evarts landed the plane, but when he turned to taxi back, the prop hit a snowbank and bent.

He used a satellite phone to report the damaged plane. The men would have to wait for help.

The cabin is a 10-foot by 10-foot structure with a dirt floor and a barrel stove. The wind blew and the cabin was cold, but "it could have been much worse," Evarts said.



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