Alpine Rescue Team reaches 100th mission

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Number of rescues on par with last year’s pace

By Ian Neligh

The Alpine Rescue Team reached its 100th mission of the year when a 19-year-old hiker with an injured leg was evacuated by helicopter from Sawtooth Ridge between Mount Bierstadt and Mount Evans on Aug. 27.

The team and Douglas County Search and Rescue responded to the woman, who hurt her leg when a boulder fell on top of it.

“She tripped or fell and a huge rock fell on her lower leg,” said Dawn Wilson, spokeswoman for Alpine Rescue. “So it was just excruciating for her to try to bear weight on it.”

Wilson said the call came in at about 10:40 a.m., but rescuers didn’t get off the mountain until 9 p.m.

Colorado Springs Flight for Life helped transport rescuers into the area but because of the location’s danger, the woman was airlifted using a hoist from the site by the High-Altitude Army National Guard.

“The people on-site with the 19-year-old requested the hoist because of the danger to the rescuers, not because her injury was so severe,” Wilson said. “They came in and plucked her off within 60 seconds. It was amazing.”

Of the more than 100 missions Alpine Rescue Team has gone on this year, 46 were from the Mount Bierstadt and Mount Evans areas.

Last year the team reached its 100th mission on Aug. 23. In 2014 and 2015, Alpine Rescue reached 100 missions in September and in 2013 reached that number in December.

Wilson said last Sunday, the team received three major calls.

“We've also had calls where people are calling in and then we find out that the person is actually not missing, or they hiked themselves out,” Wilson said. “We're having a lot of calls for people that are tired and sick and hurt.”

Wilson said people in trouble have been able to use their cell phones to call Alpine Rescue to ask for assistance.

Sheriff Rick Albers suggested people buy a Colorado Search and Rescue Reimbursement Fund card to help reimburse the cost of search-and rescue-missions. More information can be found at http://www.alpinerescueteam.org/support/corsar-card/.

“Accidents can happen to anybody,” Albers said. “It's not just the untrained. I've rescued people who have summited Mount Everest.”

Albers urged people to do their homework before doing any serious hiking.

“Use some common sense. You're only as strong as your weakest link,” Albers said. “But the best thing is to be prepared, let somebody know when you're going, when you're going to get back. Don't over-estimate your ability. Do some reading. See what these peaks are.”