MT Yale Mission
On Friday, November 18th, Chaffee County Search and Rescue – North conducted an operation to rescue a severely injured hiker off of Mt. Yale.
At approximately 1600 Chaffee County Dispatch received a SOS activation from a Garmin InReach.
A two person party were attempting Mt. Yale via the East Ridge. While descending, one of the parties fell, tumbled about 500’ and came to a stop in the rocks. The subject was face down and not moving. Injuries included broken bones, a head injury, and eventually hypothermia & frostbite. Luckily one of the parties had a Garmin InReach and made the call for help.
18 rescuers fielded to help with the rescue. A plan was made with hasty teams, and support teams to bring additional warm gear, a sked, and a litter.
Helicopters were unfortunately not available at the time to insert rescuers due to weather. Ground teams made their way to the location of the injured party.
CCSAR-N requested mutual aid from other SAR teams for support with this challenging mission. It was anticipated that a litter carry would be necessary to get the subject the 4+ miles out to the trailhead and additional support would be necessary.
Chaffee County SAR – South, Lake County SAR, Custer County SAR, and others responded to this request.
Rescuers faced a tough night of cold, wind, snow, steep terrain, and ice fields. Temperatures throughout the night were around 5 degrees with a windchill of minus 15 degrees. Winds gusted 20-30 mph.
Incident Command implemented Cold Index Procedures to check on rescuers’ warmth every 15 minutes.
A small team assembled on the ridge at 12,400’.
Rescuers needed ice axes and crampons to reach the injured party and their hiking partner. A few rescuers descended into the bowl to reach the subject.
Another team of rescuers staged on the ridge on standby.
At approx. 2300 the Tech team reached the subject. A medical assessment was conducted, and rescuers began trying their best to warm the subject.
Incident Command continued to request aviation assets throughout the night. Classic Air Medical accepted the mission.
At approximately 0100 Classic Air Medical was able to drop an additional technical rescuer, but were unable to fully land. A full landing and powering down the helicopter was required to load the subject, due the type of aircraft they use.
Multiple attempts were made to land, but they were unsuccessful. Between the terrain, winds, blowing snow, and nighttime, attempts to land were aborted.
Around 0200 Classic Air Medical returned to airdrop additional warm weather and survival gear for the subject and rescuers as an air evacuation would not be possible until dawn.
An evacuation via manpower would not be possible either due to the severe conditions and location on the mountain.
The Tech team moved the subject to treeline and built a fire to stay warm to survive the night.
Through out the night Incident Command was able to secure Colorado Army National Guard HAATS with hoist capabilities, REACH Air Medical, and Canon City Helitack for assistance.
At daylight, HAATS and two rescue technicians from Mountain Rescue Aspen hoisted the subject off the mountain.
They transported the subject to the Buena Vista Airport and transferred the subject to a REACH Air Medical helicopter.
At approximately 0830, the subject was on her way to a hospital.
Meanwhile, Canon Helitack was on standby while the patient was extracted by HAATS. Once HAATS and the patient were at the Buena Vista airport, Canon Helitack extracted the injured parties hiking partner and 4 SAR members.
Additional rescuers returned to the field to pick up gear that had been left behind the night before.
The mission was terminated at 12:30 pm on Saturday, November 19th once all parties were out of the field and back at the Chaffee County SAR North Bay.
CCSAR-N would like to thank the following agencies for their support in this complex rescue:
-Chaffee County SAR South
-Lake County SAR
-Custer County SAR
-Classic Air Medical
-Colorado Army National Guard HAATS
-Mountain Rescue Aspen
-Colorado Search & Rescue Association
-REACH Air Medical
-Canon City Helitack
-Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office
-Chaffee County Dispatch
We would also like to give a very special thanks to High Country BBQ and LaGrees in BV for feeding our teams the night of 11/18 and the morning of 11/19 for FREE!!!!
There is nothing better than hot food when you return from being out in ‘arctic’ conditions.
Canon Helitack is a part of the Colorado Div. of Fire Prevention and Control. They are used on an annual contract basis and do not fly 12 months a year. The last day for their program for 2022 was 11/19/2022. They will not fly again until Spring 2023!
Know before you go-
The mountains are experiencing winter conditions and as soon as the sun goes down, which is early temps drop considerably. If you are attempting a winter summit, please be sure to have the 10
essentials, have the gear to spend the night, check the weather conditions, avalanche danger, stick to the trail and know when to turn around to summit another day. An GPS device with an SOS option is always recommended.
CCSAR-N does not condone and will delete any negative comments regarding this mission.