Tuesday was a bittersweet day in western Colorado.

More than 18 months following a tragic accident on Island Lake on the Grand Mesa, a team of divers successfully raised the snowcat that has rested deep below the surface of the lake since that fateful February day.

It was February 3, 2019 when Ryan Wells and Ricky Colton, both of Delta, were reported over due at Grand Mesa Lodge. According to the Delta County Independent, tracks from a snowcat were discovered on the ice at Island Lake as well as a large hole where the snowcat had fallen through the ice into the water. Delta County Search and Rescue performed a search and found no evidence that either of the two men had gotten out of the snowcat. Sadly, their bodies were retrieved from the lake in August of 2019.

This past summer, an unsuccessful attempt was made to retrieve the 15,000 pound snowcat from a depth of about 75 feet at Grand Mesa Lake. That effort is chronicled in a YouTube episode of Adventures With Purpose, seen below. It was their mission to do the retrieval without any cost to the family or the Forest Service. In July, the group pledged to return in September with custom heavy lift salvage recovery bags

The retrieval of the snowcat may possibly bring another element of closure to the families of these two men, but it is also a horrific reminder of that day in February when these two lives were lost. It is impossible to talk about this story without feeling great sadness in this loss and compassion for Ryan and Ricky's families.


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