Alpine Rescue aids stranded snowboarder, injured hiker

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By Ian Neligh

The Alpine Rescue Team is already off to a busy summer.

The all-volunteer rescue team based in Evergreen extracted a stranded snowboarder from St. Mary’s Glacier on May 27 and assisted an injured hiker from the Mount Evans area on May 30.

Dawn Wilson, spokeswoman for Alpine Rescue, said as the Denver metro area’s population continues to grow so too does the number of people recreating in the mountains.

“We’ve noticed as Denver has gotten busier over the last couple years ... that the number of rescues have gone up too,” Wilson said.

On May 27, a snowboarder decided to walk down a snowfield at St. Mary’s Glacier due to the poor snow conditions.

“So he took off his board and was walking down, and I believe he fell,” Wilson said. “There happened to be a firefighter up there who went over and checked on him and was able to tell 911 what kind of equipment we would need to be able to get him out.”

The snowboarder suffered no serious injuries.

“We had two members go up, we had one member tie-in and walk down and attach himself to the snowboarder and then get him out of the situation,” Wilson said. “There’s still snow up at St. Mary’s, but it’s hard and is not great for snowboarding.”

On May 30 at about 8 p.m., researchers working near Mount Evans heard someone crying for help and called the Sheriff’s Office, who sent a deputy and confirmed someone was trying to get assistance.

The Alpine Rescue Team was called and hiked for 2 miles in the dark to find a man in his 30s who sprained his ankle and couldn’t easily move while walking his two dogs.

“I guess he’d been screaming for hours ...,” Wilson said. “So it's a good thing he had a good set of lungs on him.”

The rescuers assisted him in walking back out to where a relative was waiting. The mission ended at about 2 a.m.

“It was just a couple of hours of hiking,” Wilson said. “It was a beautiful night, full moon and beautiful weather.”

Know the backcountry, your limitations

Wilson advises people looking to spend some time in the backcountry to be knowledgeable.

“Know what gear you need, know the weather, know the route, know your skill level and be honest with it,” Wilson said.

Clear Creek Sheriff Rick Albers echoed Wilson’s sentiments.

“Watch the weather, don’t go alone (and) you’re only as strong as your weakest link,” Albers said. “Make sure you have proper clothing, equipment.”

Albers added that visitors to Colorado should take their time and not rush from the airport to the top of Mount Evans.

“One of the biggest things is don’t come from Florida and go to Mount Evans,” Albers said. “Try to acclimate yourself a little bit. We have a lot of problems with that (every year).”

Contact Ian Neligh at couranteditor@evergreenco.com, and check www.clearcreekcourant.com for updates and breaking news.