Overdue Climbers – 17 September, 2012

On Monday, September 17th, just before noon, Custer County Search and Rescue was notified that two climbers had not returned as planned Sunday night, from a technical climb on the Ellingwood Arete’ route on Crestone Needle. The reporting party was a sergeant at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs, who provided key information to the intended route of the climbers. The subject’s vehicle was located at the South Colony parking lot a short time later. Eleven CCSAR members were fielded, as weather in the area began to quickly deteriorate, with brief periods of steady rain, sleet and snow, along with poor visibility.

Flight for Life was put on standby, to assist should conditions improve. An additional five CCSAR members responded in support roles or on standby. Fremont County SAR dispatched six members and a team of five High Altitude Mountain Rescuers from Fort Carson were also en route. The pair were located, in good condition, at 1620 by CCSAR members, who walked them out.

The two had encountered difficult conditions on the technical route and were forced to bivouac below the summit Sunday night, enduring cold conditions near an elevation of 14,000 feet. After reaching the summit of Crestone Needle on Monday the pair began their descent, which they intended to be the standard route, but they were instead well off route. The climbers were then required to utilize their resources and training to rappel off the mountain to Cottonwood Lake, returning over Broken Hand Pass late Monday afternoon. Fremont SAR and Fort Carson Personnel were stood down, the mission concluded at 1930.

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