Colorado Search and Rescue

On September 4th, four friends from Illinois attempted the Crestone Peak to Needles traverse in the Sangre se Cristo Mountain Range. Starting at roughly 5:15 AM, they made their way to the Upper South Colony Lakes and then up and over Obstruction Peak to reach the Northwest Couloir, a steep chute on the north face of Crestone Peak. They quickly encountered snow and ice in the couloir and reached a point that was too dangerous to climb down. As they ascended, they were deterred by ice on the route and left to search for an alternative path. After climbing a bit, they determined that going further up or down would be too dangerous and called for a rescue at 11:30 AM.

Custer County Search and Rescue quickly began preparing a rescue mission. They mobilized quickly and sent a team of 4 to Cottonwood Lakes vía helicopter. The team climbed the opposite side of the couloir and then descended to near where the hikers were stranded. Based on GPS coordinates sent out by the hikers, they packed 400 feet of rope. Unfortunately, the hikers were closer to 500 feet from the summit, and had some treacherous terrain between them and the couloir the team descended. At 7:00 PM, within eyesight of the hikers, the leader of the rescue team had to postpone the mission until the following day to maintain rescuer safety. Later it was stated that this was one of the most difficult decisions he had ever made.

Upon returning to base, the Custer County team immediately began planning a coordinated, multi-team rescue operation and assembling help from various organizations. Additional assets were organized for the next morning and included resource assistance from Colorado State Rescue Board (CSRB) and rescue members from Western State Mountain Rescue and the Alpine Rescue Team, including two (2) Tier 3 Hoist Rescue Team members who were inserted by a Buckley Air Force Base Blackhawk helicopter crew.

In the morning of September 5th, 2 Alpine team members were dropped off near the summit of Crestone Peak and worked their way down to the climbers. Meanwhile, crews from both Alpine and Western made their way up the gully to set up rappel stations. After making contact with the stranded hikers, giving them food, water, and extra jackets, the teams managed to successfully lower all 4 to flat ground below and get the safely off the mountain with operations concluding near midnight.

Over 30 brave volunteers from this mix of agencies participated in the rescue effort.  The coordination, consistency of communication, and professionalism of each and every team member was unprecedented. It is impossible to put any price on the work that went into this operation, but the intent of this gofundme campaign is to support these organizations and the people in them. Some of these rescuers brought their own personal rock climbing gear for the rescue and offered food out of their own packs. These donations help with gas, food, hotels, replacement gear, and plenty of auxilery items that take place behind the scenes. Anything you can give to support these crews   will help to support this mission and future efforts. Thank you to all the Search and Rescue team members involved.j

Fundraising team: Rescued hikers (5)

Carolina Martinez Gonzalez
Raised $1,300 from 5 donations
McAllen, TX
Ian King
Brenda Owens
Team member
Raised $1,230 from 3 donations
Ryan Parrish
Team member
Raised $100 from 1 donation
Carole & John Monaco
Team member

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