Quandary rescues so far this summer: 8
September 8, 2009
SUMMIT COUNTY – The Summit County Rescue Group liberated two hikers Monday after they became “cliffed out” and spent the night on Quandary Peak.
The technical evacuation took six hours, and the rescuers lowered the men with a 200-foot rope to the bottom of the cliff bands. Both men were uninjured.
This was the Summit County Rescue Group’s eighth mission on Quandary Peak so far this year.
The two hikers, who were visiting from Tennessee, embarked on their hike from the Blue Lakes Trailhead Sunday morning.
The men ascended Quandary Peak by the west ridge. But they became disoriented as they descended and lost the route, said Summit County Rescue Group spokeswoman Anna DeBattiste. After realizing they were stuck, the men spent the night on a ledge.
“These people were in almost the same place as the last cliffed-out people in July,” DeBattiste said, adding that they were 10 feet away from the July location.
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According to DeBattiste, the search effort began at 6 a.m. Monday, after a family member notified authorities Sunday night that the men didn’t return. Sixteen rescuers started searching from the Blue Lakes Trailhead, and the two hikers were spotted from the west side at approximately 8 a.m. They were unable to ascend or descend in an area where several technical evacuations have already been performed.
“This is not about people going up the east ridge and taking a shortcut down,” DeBattiste said. “This is about people heading up the west ridge and then losing the route. It’s not really a trail.”
Though the hikers were well prepared – they carried extra food and water, several layers of warm clothing, a flashlight and a whistle – DeBattiste cautioned that the route they chose is for skilled recreationists only.
“If you take the west ridge route at all, you need to be more than a casual hiker,” DeBattiste said, also noting that guide books telling people Quandary is an easy peak is misleading. “It’s not a casual hike. You need good route-climbing skills and experience with a more technical hike.”
Caitlin Row can be reached at (970) 668-4633 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.