A backpacker lost in the Bob Marshall Wilderness over the weekend was rescued via helicopter after deploying a personal locator beacon.
Lewis and Clark County dispatch was contacted by the beacon company at 6:53 p.m. Saturday due to a help needed signal sent from the wilderness, said Sheriff Leo Dutton. The signal was coming from the area of Crown Mountain, about 19 miles west of Augusta.
Authorities were able to communicate with the backpacker, a 23-year-old Havre man, through his mother, who had text message contact via the beacon.
“We asked him if he was properly equipped to stay the night,” Dutton said. “He said he was and he was a long ways in there, so we texted back that we weren’t going to put search and rescue at risk at night and to camp there.”
Search and Rescue staged at Benchmark Campground and left early Sunday. They encountered substantial snow, and the decision was made to bring in a helicopter from Flathead-based Two Bear Air, which extracted the man with a hoist.
“He was pretty tired and worn out from the trek. … They took him out back to his vehicle and he was exhausted but did not need any kind of medical attention,” Dutton said. “He was highly prepared and knew enough to ask for help early, and that’s one of the ingredients for a successful operation.”
Dutton was not aware of where the man was going or intended to go. He was backpacking alone.
Search and Rescue reached the man about the time the helicopter arrived, and after hiking out, returned home shortly before 10 p.m. Sunday.
While authorities do receive some false emergency signals, Dutton highly recommends backcountry travelers carry personal locator beacons.