Summit County Rescue Group has received a record number of calls for several years in a row – with 217 coming in 2021 – and the trend shows no sign of stopping. The all-volunteer nonprofit has already answered four calls in the first three days of January.
âIt leaves you wondering, as a mission coordinator, ‘When is this going to peak? “, Said spokesman Charles Pitman. âSometimes you have to; it can’t go on forever. It just shows you the nature of what we’re dealing with in Summit County.
Two of the appeals were resolved fairly quickly. There was a potentially lost snowmobile rider at Spring Creek who was located and someone peeling the Peaks trailhead who made it to their meeting later than scheduled.
“Some of them can take five to 10 minutes to clean up, and some of them can take five, six or seven hours to clean up, even though we never send teams to the field,” Pitman said. âIt all depends on the nature of the call.
The third call was a natural avalanche that occurred on Monday January 3 at Buffalo Mountain. There were no injuries or burials related to the slip. Pitman said the report noted that the slide occurred in the “caldera,” which it assumes to be the prominent east-facing bowl on the mountain. Witnesses saw the slide and called it at 11.54 a.m. This is something Pitman said he encouraged people to do, even if there is no imminent danger, so that the group is aware of the situation.
The current avalanche danger is rated as considerable (3 out of 5) for Tuesday January 4 and Wednesday January 5, and Pitman said people should exercise caution even if they think it is not so. dangerous.
âIf you look at the article over a lot, you can almost consider it high,â Pitman said. “It’s just that: it’s a considerable danger. You have to be careful when you go out.
The fourth search and rescue call was at 1:30 p.m. Monday. The group was alerted that an individual had moved away from the eastern trail of Quandary Peak at about 12,800 feet above sea level. Pitman said it was a skier who apparently made a wrong turn and the high winds likely caused the man to lose the trail very quickly.
Pitman said five team members arrived by plane with a two-person ground crew on skis and skins. They took 200 feet of rope and a rescue slide in case the person was not ambulatory enough to get on the helicopter. Pitman said Flight for Life believed at one point to have spotted the individual and said he did not appear to be moving very fast, if at all.
âOf course when we see that we really have to take it up a notch,â Pitman said.
Pitman said they were able to find the individual and assess him, deciding it would be worth taking him by plane. Two Flight for Life helicopters responded to the incident, but only one was needed to transport the man to St. Anthony Summit Hospital for further observation. The rescue ended at 6:50 p.m.
Pitman said wind chill and high altitude should be considered on backcountry trips because it is easy to reach sub-zero temperatures.
Pitman wasn’t sure if the person had peaked and overworked, but he said he knew if someone wasn’t prepared enough with food and water, he might end up to burn energy by shivering in the cold, which can lead to disorientation and affect the way people descend a mountain.
âIt’s not uncommon for a person to reach the top and all of a sudden, coming back down, they find it is a longer task than they thought,â Pitman said.
Pitman has placed an emphasis on preparing for anyone considering going out this winter. He said people can get lost on a simple hike or snowshoe excursion when the wind blows the trails away and they need to be mindful of their surroundings, especially if they are unfamiliar with the trail or not. not know how to get out. One tip he suggested was a GPS app to help you out.
He also added that contacting the Summit County Rescue Group doesn’t translate to instant safety, as they are a group of volunteers who take time to mobilize across the county. The rescued person should be prepared to wait with plenty of supplies.
âBe prepared to squat for a period of time in the weather like we currently have,â he said. “How are you going to stay warm? How will you protect yourself from the wind? “