SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A snowmobiler from Arizona who survived two nights in a remote northern Utah canyon built a snow cave and used pieces of his snowmobile to protect him from the cold. But he said in an interview Tuesday that he had little to drink after his bottles of Gatorade froze solid.
Lawrence Orduno’s snowmobile got stuck Saturday evening after he and a friend were separated while riding in the Franklin Basin area near Logan. The 48-year-old from Phoenix tried to dig the machine out for about 30 minutes.
“It was just too deep in the snow, standing straight up and down,” Orduno told the Associated Press.
His truck was about 8 miles away, but walking through the chest-deep snow drifts with dark quickly approaching was out of the question. He decided to hunker down for the night.
Orduno accidently left his food behind in the truck that day, and thought he’d lost his cigarette lighter. But as he shook out his pants to remove caked snow just before dark, the lighter appeared, caught in the bottom of his pant leg.
He shaped the snow around him into a cave-like shelter and used the side covers from his snowmobile to help protect him from the wind, then collected wood and built a small fire. He crushed his two frozen bottles of Gatorade to free some ice and stay hydrated, but it wasn’t much.
Orduno is an avid snowmobiler who had been riding in the area before, and he went out with a 27-year-old friend while visiting his mother, who lives in the area.
Orduno said he got stuck in Boss Canyon, which off the beaten path but just over a ridge from more popular snowmobiling areas. He heard a machine go by at one point, but he couldn’t flag it down.
Meanwhile, a search party led by the Cache County Sheriff’s Office was combing the area for him, but the group was stymied by heavy snow.
Orduno says he started to worry the second night and considered taking more desperate measures, including setting his machine on fire.
But about 10 a.m. the next day, searchers taking a slightly different path spotted him.
“My story is really just another story of a guy out in the snow getting stuck,” he said.
Orduno said he’s grateful to the dozens of people who joined the search.
“I have no way of knowing all the people,” he said. “I just want to tell them all thank you for all of their help.”