Injured hiker’s party was "ill-prepared’
SUMMIT COUNTY – When a 12-year-old slid down a snowfield and tumbled through 200 feet of rocks Saturday, the group he was traveling with was not prepared, rescuers said.
The unidentified boy was descending the south ridge of Peak 8 after reaching the summit with his father and family friends when the group started crossing a patch of snow.
“It sounded to me like they were trying to slide,” said Becky Baylor, the 13-year Summit County Search and Rescue volunteer who was in charge of the call. The boy gathered too much speed and fell head over heels through the rocks, she said, cutting open his forehead and sustaining multiple bumps and bruises.
Other members of the group used a cell phone to call 911 around 5 p.m., and rescuers were dispatched shortly thereafter. Because of the head injury, a helicopter was summoned, but the first to arrive was unable to reach the stranded group because of mechanical difficulties.
“That helicopter that they sent up here first was mechanically incapable of flying at the altitude we needed it to fly at,” Baylor said.
Flight for Life was then dispatched and evacuated the boy shortly before 9 p.m. He was taken to Children’s Hospital in Denver, where he was listed in fair condition.
Baylor said the problems the group encountered stemmed from a failure to heed the standard lessons of Backcountry 101.
“These people were rather ill-prepared for what they encountered,” she said.
Though the group had the cell phone and knew roughly where they were, no one had a map, which resulted in wasted time trying to pinpoint the injured boy’s location.
“This county is so big, there’s so much area,” Baylor said. “(It’s like saying) “we’re going to throw a needle in a haystack, and you go find it.'”
Furthermore, while the group had some food and water, its members had little additional clothing and supplies for an emergency like the one that occurred.
Baylor said that when the group reached the snowfield, it could have exercised more caution, and failure to do so was what lead to the accident.
“If you don’t have the experience and the capacity to do it, don’t do it,” she said.
Baylor praised the efforts of rescuers, saying they conquered “sketchy” terrain, snow and a descent in darkness to complete their mission.
“Our guys did a great job,” she said.
She noted that the lessons to be learned from the incident were the same ones backcountry enthusiasts hear over and over again.
“Be prepared,” she said. “Take a map. Take plenty of food and water. Take extra clothing, and take a headlamp, because you don’t know how long you’re going to be there.”
“You never know what the backcountry is going throw at you.”
Tame weekend for rescuers
Aside from the eight-hour ordeal on Peak 8 Saturday, Summit County Search and Rescue had a quiet weekend, Baylor said Sunday afternoon.
Thursday’s excitement was “the case of the mysterious flashing light” in the Ten Mile Range above Breckenridge. It turned out to be a party at the Vista House restaurant.
July Fourth saw a hiker separated from his group near Willow Falls and the Buffalo Cabin trail behind Wildernest. All parties were located before searchers reached the scene.
On Saturday, another 12-year-old boy was injured at Breckenridge while riding his mountain bike. Search and rescue members referred the Breckenridge Bike Patrol to the scene.
On Sunday, a call came in for a man having a heart attack in Chihuahua Gulch above Montezuma. By the time rescuers responded to the scene, another party had started transporting the man to a hospital.
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