Response Area

Custer County has a total area of 740 square miles (1,916 kmĀ²). The county is very rugged and would be virtually inaccessible without roads. The lowest point of the county is around 6,000 feet (1,800 m) in elevation, but most of the county is rugged and mountainous. The county seat of Wescliffe is about 7,800 feet (2,400 m) and along with nearby town Silver Cliff lies in the Wet Mountain Valley which sits at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The peaks of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to the west reach heights in excess of 14,000 feet (4,300 m) with Crestone Peak being the highest at 14,294 feet (4,357 m) and 7th highest fourteenerĀ  in Colorado. A large percentage of the county is National Forest land in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains on the west side and in the Wet Mountains on the east.
CCSAR often assists on missions in other counties including neighboring Fremont County, Saguache County, Huerfano County and Pueblo County.

Most of our summer missions are in and around the South Colony Lakes, Humbolt Peak, Crestone Peak, Crestone Needle and Cottonwood Lake (in Saguache County). This area is very popular with the hikers and climbers trying to bag a fourteener, or two. The terrain can be very dangerous and poorly marked. In addition, weather conditions can turn from mild to life threatening in a matter of hours. ATVs are not allowed in the wilderness areas so we must rely on horses, the Technical Rope Rescue team, and often Flight For Life to extract subjects from this area.

The Wet Mountains are a small range of mountains in southern Colorado named for the amount of snow they receive in the winter. They are also called the Sierra Mojadas. Most of the range is contained in Custer County. Missions usually involve lost hunters and mushroomers in the fall and snowmobilers in the winter. The terrain is rugged and hazardous, but horse and ATVs can be used effectively since it is not a designated wilderness area.