Steep Gullies Gauntlet to raise funds for Summit County Rescue Group
The money would go toward a new headquarters for the volunteer group
In 2021, Summit County Rescue Group was the second busiest rescue organization in the state. Yet its base of operations is a garage from the 1960s that can’t fit all the necessary equipment for hundreds of calls. The nonprofit hopes to remedy that situation with help from the Steep Gullies Gauntlet.
Inspired by Arapahoe Basin Ski Area’s annual Enduro, the Steep Gullies Gauntlet is an endurance fundraiser where no more than 20 teams of two will do as many laps as they can on the expert Steep Gullies terrain from 8:45 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. Friday, March 11. But unlike the Enduro, each lap requires a roughly 30-minute hike or skin back to the base of the Pallavicini Lift.
“We are really excited about ramping it up in terms of a more challenging event,” Summit County Rescue Group spokesperson Anna DeBattiste said.
Following the competition is a taco bar dinner at 4 p.m. at the A-Frame base lodge. Athletes are encouraged to solicit sponsors per lap, and the dinner will recognize the team that does the most laps and the team that raises the most money.
The dinner and raffle are included for participants, and the public can purchase to attend, as well, especially if they want to take part in the evening’s raffle. Raffle items include gift cards, clothing, avalanche courses, skis, splitboards, resort lodging and more.
“We’ve just been bowled over by the generosity of our supporters in our community,” DeBattiste said. “We got way more donations for the raffle then we thought we were going to get. There’s a lot of great stuff to give away.”
Proceeds go toward a new, 15,000-square-foot headquarters at the County Commons area in Frisco. DeBattiste said the project’s total cost has grown above the recent estimated cost of $5.7 million due the coronavirus pandemic and supply issues, but the all-volunteer group’s commitment remains $1.375 million.
Along with more meeting and storage space, the building will add a training wall. Similar to a climbing wall, it allows for people to practice low-, medium- and high-angle technical rescue skills, such as raising and lowering patients.
“I think the training wall is really the showpiece of this building,” Summit County Rescue Group President Ben Butler said. “It’s going to allow us to train 12 months of the year without having any worries about the weather.”
More than climbers and hikers need to be rescued, so the headquarters will also provide the only high-elevation dive rescue team in the state with a central location for gear.
The garage — or barn as members call it — currently lacks adequate heat, room for all vehicles and private bathrooms. Snowmobiles, trailers, all-terrain vehicles and other specialized equipment are scattered in lockers and other garages around the county that are rotated seasonally.
At the moment, there is a loft that has a small table and chairs that lets roughly 10 people meet, but there are 75 people on the team. DeBattiste said a proper command room will allow coordinators to manage a mission from a place other than a trailhead where they’re spreading maps on a hood of a truck and lacking cell service.
“The need is very real, and we will be much more efficient once we have all of our equipment and vehicles in one place,” DeBattiste said.
The group has also recently started safety outreach events. Dedicated training and meeting rooms mean they can host them on-site rather that at a brewery or elsewhere.
Butler said they hope groundbreaking begins in the spring or early summer. One bay will be torn down for excavation and foundation work with the group operating out of the rest of the barn until completion.
Before the Steep Gullies Gauntlet, the public can also support the group through Copper Mountain Resort’s Play Forever Thursdays fundraising event Thursday, March 10. Ticket sales purchased in advanced online for that day will benefit search and rescue.
DeBattiste said the group hopes the Steep Gullies Gauntlet becomes an annual fundraiser in addition to bringing back the Brewers Rock for Rescue, a beer and concert benefit that hasn’t happened since the coronavirus pandemic.
The rescue group receives a small operating budget from the Summit County Sheriff’s Office, but it relies primarily on grants and individual donations from community members to support the team’s operating expenses. Last fall was the first time the group participated in Colorado Gives Day.
Last year’s Senate Bill 249 passage gives Summit County Rescue Group another revenue source. The bill makes it so when people register their vehicles, they buy a Keep Colorado Wild pass that primarily benefits Colorado Parks and Wildlife but also Colorado search and rescue groups. However, the money won’t arrive until 2023, and DeBattiste said she doesn’t know how the estimated $2.5 million will be distributed across the state.
Participation in the Steep Gullies Gauntlet costs $200, and the taco dinner is $20. Tickets must be purchased in advance at ArapahoeBasin.com. Raffle tickets can be bought for $10 from 6-8 p.m. Tuesday, March 8, at HighSide Brewing, from 6:30-8 p.m. Wednesday, March 9, at Underground Snowboards, and Friday at A-Basin’s Beach.
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