At 05:55 on Friday, 23 September, Capt. Pruiksma was notified by the Sheriff’s office of three overdue climbers in the CrestoneNeedle/Peak area. The father of two of the three climbers called the S/O at 05:45 to indicate the three young men in their mid-20’s were supposed to be back in the Denver area by 23:30 the night before. Their intention was to car camp at the Rainbow Trail area parking lot on Wednesday night and climb Crestone Needle via the Ellingwood Arete on Thursday, returning home late Thursday night.
CCSAR had 20 members respond, including 17 field and 3 office personnel. The subject’s car was located within the hour by a member of the hasty team and it was determined the tents near the car belonged to the three young men. Because of the length of time the the subjects were overdue Flight For Life was notified to do a reconnaissance and 8 technical members of Alpine Rescue were ready for deployment. Saguache County had also been notified to stand-by in case their assistance was needed.
At 08:30 a member of CCSAR spotted three climbers descending Brokenhand Pass. They were intercepted 20 minutes later and they were the party CCSAR was searching for.
The three men were unfamiliar with the area and distances and were also unaware of last week’s storm that dropped snow and ice on Broken Hand Pass. They reached Crestone Needle at 18:00 on Thursday via the Ellingwood Arete and because of darkness came back to an area they felt safe and hunkered down for the night.
The TRR team hiked up to Broken Hand Pass and used the rest of the day to train.