Nighttime cliff rescue: Tech teams use drones on ‘spicy’ mission to aid cliffed-out hiker

Douglas P. Marsh, Chaffee County Times reporter, Sept 15, 2021 Members of the Chaffee County SAR-North’s drone team prepare to deploy their unmanned remote aircraft in a search for a stranded hiker on the Chalk Cliffs   Chaffee County Search and Rescue-North capped off the high season with a daring night rescue at Chalk Cliffs on Sept. 7. The group was also activated the following morning to respond to a medical distress call from the Three Apostles basin west of Mount Harvard. Both rescues were successful. SAR-North representatives said that this season was a bit calmer than last. “We have had a little lower call volume so far in 2021 then we have in the previous few years,” said CCSAR-North’s president, Josh Schwenzfeier. “This is not due to a reduction in the amount of people in our backcountry areas.” Schwenzfeier attributed the reduction in calls to education programs and peer support due to increased numbers of hikers and climbers. “We haven’t been bored by any stretch,” said Beth Helmke, public information officer. “There have still been some spicy ones.” The Chalk Cliffs extraction was one such mission. According to SAR-North’s after-action report on Facebook, the call came in a little after 7 p.m. that a hiker without any gear had become cliffed out roughly 1,500 feet high and darkness was falling. “Tuesday’s mission was a great use of our CCSAR-N Drone and Technical Rescue Teams. The Chalk Cliffs is a tough spot to respond to due to the loose rock in the area,” said Schwenzfeier. “The Drone Team mobilized almost immediately after the page was sent out. They were...

AFTER MAJOR UPTICK IN SUMMER CALLS, LAKE COUNTY SAR PREPARED FOR A SECOND BUSY SEASON

Hannah Harn, Ark Valley Voice, Feb 26, 2021 (Nice Truck!) As the COVID-19 pandemic continued and spread during the summer of 2020, more and more people found themselves looking at new options for recreation; heading from the city to the mountains for outdoors fun. However, many of these new hikers found themselves unprepared for the peaks ahead of them. While the types of calls remained consistent, there was a major spike in the number of search and rescue calls for help. For Lake County Search and Rescue, (SAR) the bulk of their 2020 calls came between May and September when they’d sometimes get two or three calls a week. John Holm, President of Lake County Search and Rescue (SAR), says the spike in calls wasn’t entirely unexpected. “Everyone had cabin fever with shutdowns in the spring, but I don’t think any of us expected it to get that busy,” he explains. “Primarily, it was lack of motivation, lack of preparedness, that sort of thing. So we would hike up to them, feed them, give them some water and motivation and walk them out.” One of the major contributors Holm sees is the restriction of travel, which has led to more people recreating closer to home. “More Coloradans are going to know about fourteeners, specifically Elbert, the highest one,” he says. “They’re going to be more likely to come up with people from out of state who are just going to throw the dart at the map and say, ‘hey let’s go there.’ People from out of state who plan to come and hike Elbert are going to plan to do it...

Search & Rescue escorts hikers out of Browns Canyon

Max R. Smith, Chaffee County Times, Feb 17, 2021 As temperatures dipped rapidly Saturday evening, Chaffee County Search & Rescue-North and a Chaffee County Sheriff’s deputy were called to Browns Canyon National Monument to escort a group of hikers back to the trailhead. According to Search & Rescue’s Facebook page, rescue volunteers were paged out to Browns Canyon at 5:50 p.m. Saturday for a report of a group of hikers who had become disoriented and could not find their way back to the trailhead. A sheriff’s deputy was able to escort part of the group out, and a Search & Rescue-North hasty team met the remaining hikers who had become separated from the main group. All parties were safely out of the field by 7:45 p.m. “With single-digit temperatures and a winter storm rolling in, we are thankful for a short and successful mission,” the post...

Hiker spots boy, 11, missing along Arkansas River

Max R. Smith, Chaffee County Times reporter, Jan 14, 2021 A search for a missing 11-year-old boy along the banks of the Arkansas River east of Buena Vista yesterday afternoon ended when a hiker spotted the boy walking safely along the river. “There was a family visiting from Texas, so they were out of town, and he had left about 12:30 p.m., and about an hour had gone by and he hadn’t come back,” said Buena Vista Police chief Dean Morgan. The boy, Josiah Carter, likes to explore, but being absent for that amount of time in an unfamiliar town led his family to contact the police. The call came in at around 1:30 p.m., and Morgan estimates that around 2:30, Carter was found by a Chaffee County Fire Protection District searcher following a tip from a woman walking along the river. “Usually when we start a search like that we throw out a quick dragnet, check some areas he might be, and when that didn’t reveal anything we decided pretty quickly to get some more resources involved,” Morgan said. Chaffee County Search & Rescue-North, Chaffee County Fire Protection District, Buena Vista Fire Department and Chaffee County Sheriff’s deputies were called in to assist, and an incident command post was established at BVPD. “We canvassed the neighborhoods in South Main, which was the area he was last seen, and got the word out to a lot of the businesses and used social media as well to get his picture and everything out there,” Morgan said. In addition, Morgan said that Colorado State Patrol were on the lookout for the boy,...

Search and Rescue called out to three missions

  A Flight For Life helicopter lands above treeline on Mount Yale to rescue an injured hiker . Max R. Smith, Chaffee County Times reporter, August 26, 2020  Chaffee County Search & Rescue-North conducted three missions last weekend to assist hikers who had injured themselves hiking in the Sawatch Range. According to reports on CCSAR-N’s Facebook page, rescuers were paged out at 11 a.m., Saturday, Aug. 22, with a report of a hiker who had fallen approximately 100 feet near 13,800 feet elevation on Huron Peak, sustaining a head injury. Bystanders, including an emergency room physician and an emergency medical technician, assisted the hiker while CCSAR-N and Lake County Search & Rescue teams mobilized to the site. A Flight for Life Colorado helicopter was able to find a landing zone about a mile from the hiker in Huron Basin. The hiker was taken down to the helicopter and flown to Summit County for medical care at around 2:20 p.m. On the way back to the CCSAR-N bay at 2:40, a second call came in regarding a hiker with a broken hip about a mile up Browns Creek trail in the area of Mount Antero. The subject of the mission was carried on a wheeled litter to a Chaffee County EMS ambulance. CCSAR-N was assisted in this mission by CCSAR-South. All team members were out of the field by 5 p.m. The next day, at 12:50 p.m., rescue teams were paged out to Mount Yale for a report of a hiker who had fallen and badly injured her leg, knee and face at about 12,800 feet. “Her companions and other...