Custer County Search and Rescue responded to two callouts over the Labor Day weekend, both of which kept teams out in the field all night; and a third callout this past Saturday, September 6th.
On Saturday August 30th, members were called to evacuate a patient with possible Acute Mountain Sickness, (AMS) and dehydration. The mission was in difficult terrain above Hwy 165, near Camp Jackson, along the Camp Crocket Trail in the Wet Mountains. Pueblo County assumed Incident Command, but requested CCSAR personnel assist in the all night litter evacuation. The mission concluded at 07:30, when all members returned to the SAR base.
Sunday August 31st, team members responded to a report of two male climbers who had “cliffed” out descending the wrong couloir on Crestone Needle. Four members were fielded overnight and located the stranded pair. Attempts to access them were unsuccessful during the night. At daybreak, the Colorado Search and Rescue Board, (CSRB) was contacted for assistance and CCSAR learned that a second mission was underway in the same vicinity for yet another climber, from Colorado Springs, who had also descended incorrectly. He was also stuck above Cottonwood Lake, with no retreat possible. CSRB requested a Blackhawk helicopter and the two missions were combined into a single response, in order to share that resource. Saguache County assumed IC and Western State Mountain Rescue, (WSMR) responded with an additional four technical climbers who were inserted, along with a Saguache County team, via the Blackhawk. The single male subject was able to down climb, assisted by two other hikers in the area and walked out on his own. The two climbers from Denver, were reached by WSMR in the late afternoon and were then lowered from the scene at 16:00 hrs. That mission concluded at approximately 20:00 when CCSAR retrieved the WSMR team. Saguache County had driven the WSMR team vehicle from Crestone to the Westcliffe SAR base, to return them to their Gunnison base of operations.
Just before 11:00 this past Saturday, September 6th, CCSAR members were again called, this time to respond to a 75 year old male patient who had been thrown from his mule on the South Brush Creek trail at approximately 11,400ft. He reportedly had head, shoulder and back injuries. CCSAR members requested Flight for Life assistance and were available to be inserted into the area. Deteriorating weather conditions appeared as if this could be yet another long night for CCSAR members. FFL was able to spot a party of five hunters in the area and fielded their paramedic from a nearby landing zone. After refueling, FFL returned to the scene and the crew and hunting party were able to successfully load the patient onboard the chopper.
CCSAR member’s who had been standing by, began their planned GPS training class and finished it with a field exercise at the Comanche/Venable Trailhead, where GPS and radio skills were honed outdoors. The evening field exercise, complete with rain and hail, simulated the real deal for team members who must be prepared for the elements and potentially a long night out in the field.