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 of frostbite.
We shuttled him back to trailhead command to get him warmed up, sent the snowmobile team back up to get his gear, then shuttled him back to his car.
Thankfully we had daylight to complete this mission and bring our team out of the field by 1 p.m.
Please stick together and take care of your hiking partner(s). No summit is worth another person’s life.