Summit County Rescue Group saves injured snowboarder off Loveland Pass |

Summit County Rescue Group saves injured snowboarder off Loveland Pass

A Summit County Rescue Group vehicle is parked at Breckenridge Ski Resort on March 8, 2019.
Hugh Carey /

LOVELAND PASS — The Summit County Rescue Group helped to save a severely injured snowboarder off Loveland Pass on Tuesday evening.

Three members of the rescue team responded to the Clear Creek side of Loveland Pass at about 7 p.m. Tuesday, according to Charles Pitman, the group’s public information officer. Pitman said two men were snowboarding together when one ended up injured about 100 yards from the top of the pass.

The man’s friend didn’t have any cellphone service, so he made his way down to the road and hitchhiked his way back to the top of the pass to call for help. The Summit rescue team arrived shortly after an ambulance crew from Clear Creek. Crews stabilized the man and carried him down to the road in a carbon-fiber toboggan, according to Pitman. In total, the mission took about three hours.

Pitman said the man was taken to St. Anthony Summit Medical Center in Frisco with injuries he characterized as “on the ragged edge of very serious and life threatening” but said he couldn’t elaborate any further. He also said he couldn’t speak to the exact nature of the accident.

Pitman said the men were from Clear Creek County, and he lauded them for recreating close to home and with the proper equipment.

“He and his friend were recreating close to home, adhering to social distancing rules, and they had the appropriate backcountry gear in an avalanche beacon, probe and shovel,” Pitman said. “They were doing everything right, which is what we like to see. It just wasn’t a good day for them.”

Pitman said search and rescue calls have been down considerably since stay-at-home orders went into effect in Summit County and around the state, despite a sizable number of individuals still heading to the backcountry to recreate.

While community members will undoubtedly continue to head to the mountains to break away from the monotony of living and working at home, Pitman urged recreationists to use caution.

“People just need to understand that there could be extended response and extraction times,” Pitman said. “Things are not business as usual for us, same as all the other first responders in the community.”

Pitman said the all-volunteer group is trying to minimize person-to-person contact whenever possible, which means potentially sending fewer responders to injuries. While Pitman emphasized that the group still will respond to life-threatening injuries or individuals who are lost in the wilderness, others should be prepared to self-rescue if trouble arises.

For example, if someone’s snowmobile dies, Pitman said they should consider calling a friend to help them out instead of dispatch.

“Our resources are more limited,” Pitman said. “We may be taking a long, hard look at if something is worth putting our rescuers at risk if there’s another way to solve a problem and there are no life-threatening injuries.”

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