CRESTONE PEAK — Search and rescue teams successfully completed a two-day rescue operation of four stranded male climbers from Crestone Peak’s Northwest Couloir this week.
The climbers became stranded approximately 700 feet below the summit in dangerous terrain, complicated by recent snowfall. The Custer County Sheriff’s office activated CCSAR on Tuesday, September 4 at approximately noon and four Custer County Search and Rescue (CCSAR) technical team members were inserted by REACH Air Medical helicopter into the Cottonwood Lake area with the Wet Mountain Fire Protection District (WMFPD) assisting with flight operations.
These teams ascended the Red Gully and then rappelled into the Northwest Couloir and made visual contact with the stranded group but complicated terrain and weather conditions coupled with available daylight required the CCSAR teams to leave the field for the night.
Additional assets were organized for the next morning and included resource assistance from Colorado State Rescue Board (CSRB) and rescue members from Western State Mountain Rescue and the Alpine Rescue Team, including two Tier 3 Hoist Rescue Team members who were inserted by a Buckley Air Force Base Blackhawk helicopter crew. Rescue teams accessed the climbers and lowered them to safety with operations successfully concluded on Wednesday, September 5th at approximately midnight.
Over 30 volunteers from this mix of agencies participated in the rescue effort and CCSAR is grateful for mutual aid colleague’s assistance during this extended mission.
CCSAR would like to remind wilderness users/back country travelers that rescue is not always a timely option due to conditions and logistics. Be prepared to spend extended periods of time in inhospitable terrain if an emergency arises. Carry the Ten Essentials and know how to use them. These include such items as flashlight, fire starters, rain gear, water, First Aid kit, food, whistle, map and pocket knife. Lastly, be willing and prepared to abort a hike/climb if conditions aren’t suitable. Ascending is optional. Returning home shouldn’t be.
Colorado residents and visitors are well served by dedicated volunteer search and rescue teams. By purchasing a Colorado Outdoor Recreation Search and Rescue (CORSAR) card you are contributing to the Search and Rescue Fund, which will reimburse these teams for costs incurred in search and rescues across the State of Colorado. The CORSAR card is available for $3 for a one-year card and $12 for five-year card. CORSAR Card purchases can be made online at https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/dola/search-and-rescue-fund.
Caption: Custer County Search and Rescue Co-Captain Jonathon Wiley assists with a rescue on Crestone Peak's Northwest Couloir./Photo courtesy of Custer County Search and Rescue