A snowmobiler who plunged into a freezing ravine in Montana said he gave up hope and started to write goodbye notes to his family before his friends found him suffering from hypothermia and dehydration a day later.
"When you're an extreme snowmobiler and you get lost, you're usually dead," Barry Sadler told KECI-TV. "You're going places where people won't go — where people shouldn't go."
Sadler said part of the mindset was to ride without any survival gear or water.
The 54-year-old Idaho man said he was snowmobiling along a steep ridge with one ski in the snow and one in the air Sunday. The snow apparently cut loose beneath him, sending him 3,000 feet down a chute into a ravine in northwestern Montana. His snowmobile landed on top of him.
Sadler was able to push away the sled, and he intermittently ran its engine for heat over the next 30-plus hours.
He said he wrote goodbye notes to his wife and kids — ages 20, 18 and 16 — on his cellphone.
When the sled ran out of gas around 10 p.m. Monday, he gave up any hope of surviving.
"I'm not a quitter," he said. "But I knew there was no way I was coming out of there."
Sadler told the station it was the worst, freezing to death as he was “shaking so violently.”
But about two hours later, five friends who had followed his snowmobile track hiked into the ravine and rescued him.
"These guys shook me. I wake up, and all I see are two lights, and I thought they were angels," Sadler said. "And I was kind of out of it, and the only thing I asked was, 'What are you guys doing here?'"
The men gave Sadler dry clothes, blankets and food. However, it took five hours to hike out of the drainage and they had to walk another two miles to reach the snowmobiles they rode in on. It took another six miles to get to Sadler’s home.
"It was everything I could do to hold on," Sadler told the Shoshone News-Press.
Sadler suffered some broken bones in his hands and had frostbite.
Two sheriff's deputies involved in the search scolded Sadler for riding by himself and without survival gear, an avalanche beacon or a satellite locator.
The Associated Press contributed to this report