One after the other: Two 14er rescue missions |

One after the other: Two 14er rescue missions

Jason Auslander
The Aspen Times

Mountain Rescue Aspen volunteers had been out of the backcountry for about 45 minutes Monday when emergency dispatchers received another call about stranded climbers on a nearby 14er, officials said.

So two more teams headed out into the field to pluck two more ill-prepared, stranded hikers off another one of the highest peaks in the state, said Alex Burchetta, director of operations for the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office.

“We’ve got two people up there in terrible weather,” he said. “They’re not equipped for it.”

This time, the hikers were on Capitol Peak, located near Old Snowmass, he said. The man and woman were stuck on the peak side of the Knife’s Edge, which must be traversed on the way to the Capitol Peak summit, Burchetta said.

“It’s snowing and thundering up there,” he said.

Mountain Rescue Aspen decided to send in a ground team and insert another team by Blackhawk helicopter to get to the couple as soon as possible, Burchetta said. That rescue was still ongoing at press time Monday.

That couple called emergency dispatchers about 1:15 p.m., 45 minutes after MRA volunteers cleared the field from an early Monday morning rescue on North Maroon Peak, according to Burchetta and a sheriff’s office news release.

Dispatchers were first notified of those two stranded hikers about 7:25 p.m. Sunday, when the International Emergency Response Coordination Center called to report an “SOS” activation from a personal locator beacon, the release states.

The message from the beacon said, “two adult males stuck on mtn no descent or ascent possible no water little food,” according to the release. GPS coordinates sent along with the message pinpointed the men’s location as below the North Maroon summit at about 12,000 feet.

Sheriff’s deputies were able to communicate with the men via satellite text messaging and determined they were not hurt, according to Burchetta and the release. Unless there’s a confirmed injury, the sheriff’s office and MRA generally do not undertake nighttime missions, Burchetta said.

MRA sent out two ground teams by 4:50 a.m. Monday, with the first making contact with the hikers from below about 5:50 a.m., the release states. The second team, which approached the hikers from above, made contact by 7:40 a.m. and lowered the two men 300 feet over cliff bands to safety.

MRA volunteers were out of the backcountry by 12:30 p.m., the release states.

Ages and hometowns of the two men from North Maroon were not available Monday, Burchetta said.

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