Rescuers, hikers spend night on Aspen’s Shadow Mountain
ASPEN, Colorado – Two stranded hikers and four members of Mountain Rescue Aspen spent a cold Sunday night on Shadow Mountain before climbing safely down early Monday morning.
Jennifer Yurechko, 19, and Corey Thomas, 23, decided to hike part way up Shadow Mountain, the rocky outcropping on Aspen Mountain’s west flank, Sunday at about 6 p.m. The pair worked in Aspen last winter, but are new to summers in the resort, according to the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office.
After less than an hour of following an intermittent game trail, they found themselves halfway up and unable to descend the way they’d come. They tied themselves together with a piece of nylon rope Thomas had with him and worked their way up through steep pitches in an attempt to reach the top of Shadow Mountain, intending to cross onto the face of Aspen Mountain.
By the time they reached the top of Shadow Mountain, it was getting dark and they were encountering falling rock, the sheriff’s office said in press release. Thomas was dressed in a T-shirt, shorts and sandals; Yurechko wore jeans, a T-shirt and running shoes. They had one flashlight and some granola with them, but no gear for a night outside. At 9:12 p.m., they called 911, authorities said.
Authorities pinpointed the pair’s location after shining flashlights up at them and spying their flashlight beam shining down to the base of the mountain. Four members of Mountain Rescue set out at close to 10:30 p.m., driving up the Summer Road on Aspen Mountain to the top of the Aztec ski run so they could traverse out to Thomas and Yurechko on Trainor’s Ridge. They reached the pair, who said they were “freezing,” at about 1 a.m., according to the sheriff’s office.
Rescuers crossed an exposed section in the dark to reach the couple, according to the sheriff’s office. Rather than attempt a nighttime descent, the rescue team remained with the couple through the night, providing them with food, water, clothing, socks and a space blanket. At dawn, the party began making its way down, occasionally holding onto the steel mining cables that are still scattered about on Shadow Mountain.
Mountain Rescue also sent up a two-person team equipped with additional ropes and harnesses in the event the group reached a point they couldn’t negotiate without climbing gear.
The party reached the Little Cloud Trail at Fourth Street and Hopkins Avenue at 6:36 a.m., the sheriff’s office said.
Mountain Rescue and the sheriff’s office are reminding backcountry travelers to prepare for the unexpected and be ready to be stuck out in changing weather (nights are far colder than days at mountain altitudes). They also reminded hikers that it’s often easier to climb up a steep pitch than it is to get back down. Two of four recent rescues have involved individuals who “cliffed out” and could not get back down the way they’d gone up, the sheriff’s office said.
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Messaging from CDOT changes, but Independence Pass is noted as closed on its website but not for mudslides
Independence Pass east of Aspen is listed as closed according to the state’s transportation department, but the road was not shut down Wednesday because of mudslides but rather to lessen traffic.