Three hikers were hoisted off a steep slope on Missouri Mountain July 30 by a Colorado National Guard Blackhawk helicopter assisting Chaffee County Search & Rescue–North in a mission.
There were no reported injuries.
CCSAR-N responded to a 911 call at 11:40 a.m., July 30, that three hikers who had summited Missouri Mountain had deviated significantly from the standard route down a north-facing couloir.
They found themselves in precarious terrain, said SAR member Beth Helmke.
The hikers had diverged from the standard route to travel down what they thought would be a shortcut and “pretty quickly realized they they were in an area that was pretty treacherous,” and called 911.
She said the slope was steep and covered in loose, decomposing junk rock, making it difficult to find footing. There were also scattered patches of icy snow still on the slope.
REACH air medical services picked up a crew of SAR volunteers from Buena Vista and dropped them on Missouri Mountain below the hikers.
The SAR crew hiked up to them, examined them for injuries and stayed with them until a helicopter from the Air National Guard’s High Altitude Aviation Training Site in Gypsum arrived, Helmke said.
Because the terrain was so steep – reportedly a 45-degree grade – the HAATS helicopter could not land. It had to hoist the hikers as well as the SAR crew directly off the mountain side.
“The HAATS team are pretty regular partners in some of the more technical rescues,” Helmke said.
Helmke said the Blackhawk lifted 11 people off Missouri.
Even on day trips, it’s important to pack the 10 essentials and prepare for the possibility of spending the night on a mountain, she said.
Also, especially for less-experienced mountaineers, “really just stick to your route,” she said.
“Knowing your route and staying to your route goes a really long way,” she said.
To support the volunteers of CCSAR-N and other search and rescue groups in Colorado, purchase your CORSAR card from ihelpsearch.org.
The card costs $3 for 1 year and $12 for 5 years.
Proceeds go to the state’s Search and Rescue Fund, which reimburses search and rescue teams for the cost of their missions.