Boulder man dies at Chalk Cliffs

Brian McCabe Mountain Mail News Editor, April 10, 2017 Matthew Wayne Lackey, 31, Boulder, died Monday after sustaining serious injuries from a fall at Chalk Cliffs on Mount Princeton.  Chaffee County Sheriff John Spezze reported Lackey and his friends were climbing the rock face without equipment when a large boulder dislodged, causing Lackey to fall approximately 40 feet to the ground below, then tumble another 100 feet down the rocky slope.  His friends moved him to level ground as they awaited emergency response, Spezze said. Hikers who saw the fall reported it at 12:58 p.m., and sheriff’s deputies responded along with personnel from Chaffee County Emergency Medical Services, Chaffee County Search and Rescue North and South and Chaffee County Fire Protection District. Deputies were met by the hikers who called in the incident, who said they heard a rock falling from the cliff area and saw a man falling when they looked up.  Emergency crews administered first aid, and REACH Air Ambulance was called to the scene, but Lackey was pronounced dead at the scene. The Chaffee County coroner responded and took possession of the...

Mount Yale hikers find themselves lost, stuck

Mason Miller, Chaffee County Times Staff, January 27, 2017 Buena Vista – Four out-of-state hikers were in for the adventure of their life Wednesday night. After flying into Denver from the Detroit metro area Tuesday morning with plans for a Mount Yale summit Wednesday by way of the Denny Creek Trailhead, 30-year-old Steve Coykendall, brother Brian and friend Matt Dion became disoriented at around 2 p.m., following a flurry of snow and whiteout conditions. The three were located by a REACH helicopter at around midnight Thursday morning near Delaney Gulch, not far from the Denny Creek Trailhead. Chaffee County Sheriff John Spezze confirmed that none of the three men required medical assistance and that a fourth party member who departed from the group earlier in the day had reached out to the sheriff’s office around 8 p.m. Wednesday. The party was located and assisted by Chaffee County Search and Rescue North and the Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office and eventually hiked back down the trail around 1:30 a.m. At midmorning Wednesday, fellow hiker William Sowders decided to depart from the group due to fatigue and not wanting to hold the group back, he said. By 8 p.m., Sowders became worried that the group may have gotten lost and contacted the sheriff’s office, which established a search party shortly after. “I was expecting them to be done at 6. By 7 p.m., I decided to speak with some of the family members and we all decided that at 8 p.m. we needed to call Search and Rescue,” Sowders said. Up on the mountain, the group began hiking around attempting to find...

First 2017 mission rescues stranded hiker

Chaffee County Times, Thursday, January 12, 2017  Chaffee County Search and Rescue-North’s first mission of 2017 may have saved a man’s life. It was another case of a group splitting up, CCSAR-N’s Facebook report noted. The report stated two men left one vehicle at the Clear Creek Reservoir boat ramp, then parked the other vehicle at the winter trailhead. They hiked the 5 miles up FSR 390 to Rockdale, then another 1.2 miles up FSR 381 toward Clohesy Lake, where they camped prior to climbing Missouri Mountain’s West Ridge the next day. On Jan. 4, one man turned back while the other man summitted. After summitting, they rejoined, planning to hike back to the vehicle. The summiter was too tired to continue, so he decided to camp another night and hike out Jan. 5. His partner “had things to do,” so he left and hiked out by himself. On Jan. 6, the first party noticed his friend’s car, buried in snow, still parked at the Clear Creek boat ramp, about 10-plus miles from where he had left his friend. He called the sheriff’s office to report him overdue while heading off to another engagement on Mount Elbert. CCSAR-N established trailhead command/radio relay at the winter trailhead, sent two snowmobilers up FSR390, had two more snowmobilers on standby. Then we waited to see if we needed to deploy ground crews. The snowmobile hasty team found our subject bivvied at Rockdale with his gloves and boots too frozen to put on and about ready to activate his SPOT (global satellite GPS messenger). He was quite cold, but fortunately had no signs...

Search and Rescue assists lost hiker

Sam Liebl, Mountain Mail Staff Writer | December 6, 2016 Chaffee County Search and Rescue North assisted a woman and her dog who became lost on Mount Princeton Friday night. As darkness fell, the woman said she became unsure of how to make her way back to the trail, so she called the rescue group, which responds to calls for backcountry assistance in the northern part of Chaffee County. Rescuers guided the woman back to the trail by speaking over the phone and through text messages. She had difficulty descending to the trailhead, however, so a team of six Search and Rescue members was dispatched to assist her. According to a press release from Chaffee County Search and Rescue North, the team made contact with the woman and her dog shortly after midnight. The team evaluated the woman, and, Chaffee County Sheriff John Spezze said she did not require going to the hospital. Spezze said nighttime search and rescue missions in Chaffee County’s backcountry are normal. However, the release from Search and Rescue North said the incident Friday night is part of an atypical trend in rescues during the past 3 weeks. Since Nov. 18, Search and Rescue North “has had four late-night pages due to incidents on our local fourteeners,” the release stated. “Historically this is not typical for CCSAR-N this time of year; it might mean more people are normalizing fourteener hikes in winter conditions.” Search and Rescue officials said hikers should be aware of the early winter darkness, that temperatures can drop severely at night and that Search and Rescue may not be able to respond...

Search and Rescue North assists three distressed hikers

John Cameron, The Mountain Mail, November 22, 2016 Chaffee County Search and Rescue North assisted three distressed hikers on three separate missions over the weekend. The missions were the first in more than 1½ months for the rescue group, which reported a busy summer season. From August to September the rescuers were averaging about one mission every other day, said Scott Anderson, vice president of Chaffee County Search and Rescue North.   The most recent rescues involved hikers in three different areas: Harvard-Columbia traverse Rescuers responded to a solo hiker from Virginia who called Search and Rescue around 8 p.m. Friday after becoming disoriented and cold while attempting a traverse from Mount Harvard to Mount Columbia, roughly 7 miles northwest of Buena Vista. A headlamp the hiker was carrying failed and he was not prepared for the conditions, said Anderson. He was fortunate to have cell service, he said. Rescuers were able to instruct the hiker over the phone to descend into Frenchman’s Creek drainage. Teams of four rescuers each were sent into Frenchman’s Creek drainage and Three Elk drainage to search for the hiker. At 1:15 a.m. rescuers in Frenchman’s Creek reached the hiker, who was able to signal to rescuers by using a red light setting on his headlamp, said Anderson. The hiker reported being cold and tired but uninjured. By 5:30 a.m. everyone was out of the field, he said. Harvard Lakes Shortly after assisting the distressed hiker on the Harvard-Columbia traverse, a woman with a broken leg at nearby Harvard Lakes made phone contact Saturday with a member of Chaffee County Search and Rescue North....

Texas hiker found dead at Avalanche Trailhead

Marcus Hill, Mountain Mail Staff Writer, September 12 | 0 comments Texas hiker Jeffrey Pickering, who was reported missing Friday, was found dead Saturday night in northern Chaffee County. Pickering, 44, of Grapevine, Texas, was pronounced dead on the scene after searchers found his body in heavy brush near CR 306 at the Avalanche Trailhead. Chaffee County Sheriff John Spezze said in a press release that the Chaffee County Communications Center was contacted by the Grapevine Police Department Friday about Pickering, who was reported missing after he failed to show up for work in Texas. Texas authorities reported Pickering was hiking in the Chaffee County area on or around Sept. 3 and was to return to work in Texas Sept. 5. They said Pickering’s last cellphone activity indicated he was in the Cottonwood Pass area in northern Chaffee County. Chaffee County sheriff’s deputies found Pickering’s vehicle parked and unoccupied at the Avalanche trailhead where the Colorado Trail intersects with CR 306. Deputies contacted Chaffee County Search and Rescue North, who searched for Pickering Saturday, finding his body at approximately 7:30 p.m. The Chaffee County coroner transported the body to the coroner’s office and said an autopsy will be performed to determine cause of death. Foul play is not suspected, according to the release. Spezze said more than 16 agencies participated in the search, including 60 hikers, three helicopters, two air-scent dogs with handlers, one fixed-wing aircraft, two all-terrain vehicle teams, two horseback teams and a...