Missing hiker found after a night alone on Flat Tops
GARFIELD COUNTY, Colorado – Search and Rescue teams from two counties located a hiker late Saturday afternoon in the remote “Devils Causeway” area of the Flat Tops Wilderness, after he had been missing since midday Friday.
The missing hiker, Thad Green Childs III, 33, from Copper Mountain, was located about 5 p.m. Saturday after Search and Rescue teams from Garfield and Routt counties followed his tracks from the ground and by air through the snow to an open ridge north of the Causeway.
Childs was reported to be uninjured but tired, and was transported back to join his camping party at nearby Stillwater Reservoir.
“Fortunately, the hiker was located just prior to search operations being suspended for the day,” according to a Garfield County Sheriff’s Office press release.
Garfield County Communications was notified of the missing hiker at 7:13 a.m. Saturday.
The caller reported that Childs, a member of their five-person hiking party, left their Stillwater camp alone about 12:30 p.m. Friday to go hiking in the Flattops, and had not returned.
Garfield County Search and Rescue responded at approximately 11:35 a.m. Saturday. Due to the remote location, Routt County Search and Rescue also responded with an additional seven team members to aid in the search.
Two ground search teams began search operations in the area, which still had heavy snowpack in the higher terrain. Searchers followed tracks believed to have been made by the missing hiker and heading northwest.
DBS Helicopters from Rifle was called about 1 p.m. to assist with the search. More tracks were spotted from the air in the snowfields along the ridgeline, known as “Devils Causeway,” an extremely technical area that creates a knife-edge ridgeline of unstable rock and snow. Search crew members were flown in to higher terrain where the tracks had been located.
Around 5 p.m. one of the ground searchers who had been picked up by the helicopter spotted Childs on the ridge. The helicopter landed and transported him back to the camp in good health.
“Back-country users should use caution when hiking and recreating in higher terrain due to the lingering snowpack and late spring conditions,” Garfield County Sheriff’s officials warned. “Search and Rescue personnel suggest that no one hike alone, and that back-country users leave their route and destination information with friends and family, be prepared for the unexpected, have adequate clothing, a map and compass, and extra food and water.”
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