Search and Rescue North to buy thermal imaging drone with Climax grant funding

Max R. Smith,Chaffee County Times reporter, April 18, 2019 Chaffee County Search and Rescue-North will receive funding for an Unmanned Aerial System that can provide high resolution video and thermal imaging to assist the team in locating rescue subjects faster and performing reconnaissance on dangerous, technical terrain. The drone will be funded through a $25,000 grant from the Freeport-McMoRan Climax-area Community Investment Fund. CCSAR-N is one of 13 nonprofits in the area encompassing Lake, Summit, Chaffee and Eagle counties to receive funding in this grant cycle. Freeport-McMoRan, the Phoenix, Ariz. based molybdenum and copper producer, which owns the Climax mine in Leadville, announced its grant recipients last week, totaling $300,400 in monetary awards. CCSAR-N president Erik Rasmussen said the organization sought the UAS on the recommendation of other sister rescue teams in Colorado, and that the drone would enable CCSAR-N to survey much larger areas of terrain much more quickly from the air, locating subjects more quickly and easily and allowing rescuers to plan maneuvers on technical terrain in advance from a bird’s-eye perspective. CCSAR-N has three members certified with the Federal Aviation Administration to pilot drones, and the team has used their personal drone equipment in the past, Rasmussen said. The forward-looking infrared system would allow the team to locate temperature hot spots created by human bodies even through dense tree cover. “It’s definitely a high-tech piece of equipment,” Rasmussen said. Last year, Chaffee County Search and Rescue North completed the test for accreditation by the Mountain Rescue Association’s Rocky Mountain Chapter by performing a staged avalanche rescue in January. To pass the test, a SAR crew needs...

Florida man survives avalanche Thursday

by Brian McCabe Mountain Mail News Editor, 18-Jan-19 Jacob Beebe, 28, survived an avalanche Thursday on Cottonwood Pass, Sheriff John Spezze reported. Beebe, from Fort Walton Beach, Fla., was on a private snowmobile tour with a commercial company when he was buried under about 6 feet of snow. Spezze said guides activated his beacon and dug him out after finding him under his snowmobile. Beebe was revived by the guides on site, then taken down to Denny Creek by snowmobile before being transferred to Heart of the Rockies Regional Medical Center in stable condition. The original call came in at 3:51 p.m., and Spezze said that besides the sheriff’s office, Chaffee County EMS, the U.S. Forest Service and Chaffee County Search and Rescue North were on hand for the...

Stranded Hiker on Mt. Yale

CCSAR-N Facebook Post, 17-Dec-18 CCSAR-N received a page at 19:35 last night for an overdue hiker on Mt. Yale. The subject’s car was located at the Denny Creek TH. The hasty team started hiking up the trail at 20:40. Reach Air Medical did a flyover and spotted a flashing light about 500 feet southwest of the summit and scouted for a suitable LZ for insertion of more personnel and possible pickup of the subject. Flight for Life then inserted Team 2 on the mountain. FFL dropped off the first member of Team 2 just as Team 1 reached the LZ. Team 1, with the subject’s light in sight, continued up to make contact with the subject and assess the situation while FFL returned to fly in the second member of Team 2. Team 1 located the subject in very steep technical terrain, uninjured but extremely cold and exhausted. They were able to short-rope the subject down through the technical terrain and the two teams walked him down to the LZ where FFL airlifted him out at 04:30. Both teams were out of the field by 07:20. CCSAR-N would like to remind all backcountry hikers to be prepared for varying conditions, including extremely slick, wind-driven snow. Appropriate traction is vital on steep slopes where a slip can take one for a long, fast ride. Know your skill limits and be willing to turn around when conditions exceed them. Always carry the 10 essentials with extra layers for winter conditions; this hiker had a good headlamp which was visible for a long distance and was able to endure the 21 hours...

Woman dies after Jeep falls 600 feet

by D.J. DeJong, Mountain Mail Staff Writer A 43-year-old Kansas woman is dead and her daughter was seriously injured Tuesday after their 2014 Jeep Wrangler went off Iron Chest Road about 3 miles above St. Elmo, falling 600 feet down the mountainside, Chaffee County Sheriff John Spezze said. Jennifer Lynn Orr of Wichita was driving the vehicle in a caravan of five privately owned Jeeps headed up Iron Chest Road from CR 295. Iron Chest Road is a rough four-wheel-drive road with steep drop-offs. The vehicle was at an elevation of 11,440 feet when the slide occurred. Upon encountering a large rock in the road, Orr tried to maneuver the Jeep over the rock, but the Jeep started to slide and went off the road and down the slope. Spezze said the Chaffee County Communications Center received an emergency text about 12:30 p.m. and dispatched Chaffee County Search and Rescue North and other first responders to the scene. Orr was pronounced dead at the scene, and her daughter was airlifted to Pueblo by a REACH Air Medical Services helicopter. Other first responders called in to assist included the Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office, Chaffee County Emergency Medical Services and Chaffee County Fire Protection...

Search and Rescue assist two hikers

Cody Olivas, Mountail Mail Staff Writer, July 30, 2018 Chaffee County Search and Rescue North and South teams joined forces to rescue two hikers Sunday morning in Mount Tabeguache’s McCoy Gulch. After reaching the summit of Mount Tabeguache Saturday afternoon, the hikers from Boulder, James Boyce, 50, and daughter-in-law Ray Boyce, 35, took the wrong route down and ended up in McCoy Gulch, a notoriously steep and dangerous area of the mountain. “That particular trail is not often used and it’s easy to get off of it,” Don Dubin, Chaffee County Search and Rescue South vice president, said. After reaching some steep cliffs that they couldn’t descend, James Boyce called 911 around 7 p.m. The hikers were originally connected to Saguache’s 911 service, who told them how to find their GPS coordinates on their phone. Once the hikers found their coordinates, they were connected with Chaffee County. Dubin said he spoke with James Boyce several times, telling them to stay put and assuring him that they would be rescued. “We were able to obtain a GPS position from his cellphone, which enabled us to start a rescue plan,” Dubin said. Their location, however, made getting them out a challenge. “The hikers were in a very unusual spot where none of us had been before, and the decision making of how to approach this particular rescue was a difficult one,” Dubin said. He said when they usually go into the McCoy Gulch area to help people, it’s on the west side of the creek, not the east side where the hikers were. The decision eventually was made to launch the...