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Late 2018 rescue summaries

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Incident: Lost in Sneffels storm

  • Location: Mt. Sneffels

  • Date: Sept. 3, 2018

  • Circumstances: A teen and her mother set out for the iconic summit to celebrate an 18th birthday. Bad weather blew in midday, as the teen headed for the summit alone. She didn't return to her waiting mother

  • Operations: OMRT sent a hasty team of five up the snow-dusted peak. No sign of the hiker was found on the main summit route. On the remote southwest ridge, a rescuer heard a faint cry for help. After much difficulty, he located the injured and hypothermic hiker.

  • Outcome: Three rescuers stabilized and warmed the patient, lowered her down steep terrain. An awaiting helicopter ferried her in waning daylight to needed medical attention. She recovered from injuries caused by rockfall.

  • Takeaway: Incident occurred on Labor Day, with shirt-sleeve weather down in town. It's often a different story at high altitude. Be prepared and equipped for surprises.


Incident: Thrown horse rider

  • Location: Blaine Basin

  • Date: Sept. 15, 2018

  • Circumstances: While enjoying a late-summer ride below the north face of Mt. Sneffles, a 72-year-old woman suffered serious head injuries after being thrown by her horse. The accident occurred in a no-signal area, so her husband had to ride a mile to make the 911 call.

  • Operations: Two sets of OMR teams reached the patient, applied first responder aid, then planned for a helicopter evacuation. The flight-for-life arrived, but rejected the chosen landing zone as unsafe. The team took the patient, first by litter, then on its new off-highway ATV Ranger to the Blue Lakes trailhead and nearby Willow Swamps, to the awaiting 'copter.

  • Outcome: Patient was flown to the hospital, recovered and is looking forward to future riding.

  • Takeaway: Rescue Rule 1 is not to create more victims — those doing the rescue must make their safety paramount. Also, rescues are dynamic events, and Plan B's are sometimes needed.


Rescuers wave to a helicopter arriving just below the Sneffels summit on Labor Day, 2018. They would lower an 18-year-old birthday girl down a steep scree slope for the bird to carry her off the mountain as daylight waned.

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