Group stranded on hut trip freaked out by avalanche

Details are emerging about an incident where five people on a hut to hut trip between Barnard and Opas Hut needed to be rescued.  At first, it appeared that one of the members were ill, however, it is now turning out to be quite the story of preparedness in the backcountry. As the group was hiking from Opas to Barnard, an avalanche was triggered near Taylor Pass, and, according the Sheriff "freaked them out".  As they were exiting via the Express Creek Drainage, the group encountered more avalanche debris and decided to stay put.  They built a snow cave, and were ready to hunker down for the night. Once the weather started turning and the temperatures dropped, they decided to use a next generation personal locator beacon - allowing the group to send text messages using a satellite signal that can be connected via Bluetooth to a smartphone — with an emergency communications center run by a monitoring company connected with the device. That company contacted the Aspen-Pitkin County Communications Center around 5 p.m., according to a press release.

Upon further research, it looks like the Group had a Spot Connect Personal Locator Beacon or the Spot II Satellite GPS Beacon.  Both are priced well below the top end models, with the Spot Connect priced at $149.00 while the Spot II is priced at $99.  The Spot II is a stand alone unit, while the Spot Connect Requires the use of a smart phone.  Both of these models require a yearly subscription fee between $99.00 and $150.00 per year.

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