Watch: Summit County Rescue Group rescues missing, injured hikers with help from Army National Guard
Editor’s note: This story and headline have been updated to correct that the Army National Guard was involved in the rescue, and that the rescue occurred on the Tenmile Traverse.
KEYSTONE — The Summit County Rescue Group responded to a pair of separate missions to help find a missing person and rescue an injured hiker Monday, July 20.
The group received a call at about 10:15 p.m. Sunday regarding a hiker who was thought to be missing in the area of Mayflower Gulch Trail, not far from Pacific Peak, according to rescue group spokesperson Charles Pitman. The group looked for the man’s car and tried to locate him via cellphone but ultimately determined to send volunteers into the area Monday morning to try to find him.
Pitman said the group located the man’s car in the area Monday but were initially unsuccessful in finding him.
“There’s no real trail up to this place,” Pitman said. “The individual’s car was located, so we knew where to start the search. But we don’t know anything more than that. I don’t believe the person was considered a very experienced hiker, although the area they were in is very rugged and can be challenging.”
Pitman said the group got backup from Flight For Life, which was flying over the area in an attempt to spot the individual.
At about 10 a.m., as rescue workers were mounting the search for the missing man, another call came in regarding an injured hiker on the Tenmile Traverse, between Frisco and Breckenridge.
Pitman said a woman fell while hiking and suffered injuries that are not thought to be life-threatening. Someone at the scene was able to call 911 to alert emergency workers, but the rescue proved challenging. Flight For Life already had spotted the individual — and was able to provide precise coordinates — but wasn’t able to land in the area.
A more traditional rescue on foot wasn’t ideal given the terrain.
“It’s a long, arduous mission to bring the patient out with our personnel,” Pitman said. “They are way up high, so it’s going to be a lot of high, technical lowering with a long slog in and out.”
Instead, the rescue group requested an Army National Guard helicopter, which is capable of air-lifting an individual without landing. The plan was for the National Guard helicopter to also take part in the search for the missing hiker near Mayflower Gulch.
Story continues under video.
Video courtesy Garrett Poulos.
“The (Army) National Guard isn’t like calling Flight For Life,” Pitman said. “It’s more difficult. It takes more time, and they come from a longer way away. But we’re working both ends to see what we can do. … With the injured patient, I know Flight For Life has gone over, so we have something to tell the (Army) National Guard. And I believe their plan was to continue that flight over toward Pacific Peak and start doing some searches over there.”
Both missions were successful. Pitman said the lost hiker near Mayflower Gulch Trail was found, but he couldn’t comment on the man’s status other than saying he was able to walk.
The injured hiker was rescued via a Black Hawk helicopter “long line” and taken to St. Anthony Summit Medical Center in Frisco. The woman’s injuries are unknown.
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