By Mary Lowers
Two Search and Rescue (S&R) missions were launched on the weekend of July 11. Saguache County S&R, Custer County S&R, and the Western State Mountain Rescue Team from Gunnison were all needed to bring a woman, 39 with a broken leg and other injuries down from 13000 ft on a south facing slope above Crestone. To the south on Mount Blanca Alamosa S&R along with the National Guard was hunting for two MO women in their forties who had been reported missing on Friday.
The two hikers on Blanca were found Saturday and extracted by Black Hawk helicopter in the late afternoon. According to the Valley Courier, except for being hungry and thirsty the two women were fine.
It was a different story for the S&R mission above Crestone. According to Crestone S&R member Warren Stephens who helped run the ground operations and communications for this rescue, the call came in after 2pm Saturday, there were two friends hiking up around 13000 ft and the woman was injured. Warren told me, “The hiker was 700 ft above the landing zone on a snowfield.”  A new flight for life service, Eagle Medical out of Salida assisted in the rescue getting crews up to where they needed to be.
Custer County S&R from the other side of the mountains also assisted in the operation. They had use of a military Black Hawk helicopter. According to Warren it took crews from 7PM to 1AM to safely get the injured woman down. She was flown to Memorial Hospital in CO Springs.
Warren said the Baca Fire Department and the Ambulance assisted in the Crestone rescue at the landing zone. The Ambulance also were able to put up for the night the uninjured hiker and a S&R team member from Custer County who got soaked and chilled getting the injured hiker down off the mountain.
The two rescue missions so close together in time and geography explain all the helicopters were seeing and heard in Crestone and the Baca the weekend of July 11.