by Mary Lowers
From Friday August 14 through Sunday August 16 Saguache County Search and Rescue (SCSR) and Custer County Search and Rescue (CCSR) were very busy. According to the Wet Mountain Tribune, on Friday afternoon CCSR received a call from a hiker with a possible broken ankle. Cell phone contact with a second subject determined that both hikers were together in the Cottonwood Basin area. One of the victims had fallen in the all-too-familiar Red Gully area where a climber fell to his death last month while descending Crestone Peak. SCSR and CCSR sent up a two-person team who accessed the victim’s condition and moved him to a landing zone. They spent a cold night before Flight for Life’s Air Guard 3 picked up the injured man and transported him to an area hospital.
On Saturday, August 15 SCSR received two calls, both from the Kit Carson Peak area. The first was a lost hiker alert for a climber who was twenty-four hours overdue. The second call came from a three-person team that became disoriented/lost descending the peak through the Spanish Creek drainage rather than the usual route. Flight for Life had no luck finding the missing climber. The missing man was located through interviews with other climbers at the Willow Lake campground by SCSR.
A brief but intense storm Saturday evening, August 15 caused more problems in the high country. CCSR made contact with a Lonetree man who had fallen twice after ascending Crestone Peak and traversing the Crestone Needle. Although injured he was walking out with the help of a bystander. The good samaritan transported the injured climber to an area hospital where he was treated, to be discharged Tuesday August 18. A Pueblo West man and his two sons were reported missing but were able to hike out after being delayed by storms.
Search and Rescue teams encourage everyone to pay close attention to the weather. Folks should leave very early in the day when going to the high country. Everyone should be prepared for an unexpected overnight.