Lost Hiker Rescued After Ignoring Calls from Rescuers Due to Unknown Number

by Matthew Memrick

When Colorado rescuers called a lost hiker’s cell phone number, the person just hit ignore to the unknown caller ID and ended up leaving the mountain in their car.

Authorities said the person ignored repeated calls while hiking on snowy Mount Elbert on Oct. 18, later telling them that they had been unfamiliar with the phone number trying to reach them.

It seems to me like somebody should be reimbursing the Lake County Search and Rescue effort. Especially when that service posts two days later that avalanche season has started in Colorado.

The Call Goes Out To The Hiker

Lake County Search and Rescue jumped into action when the hiker didn’t return from an Oct. 18 expedition at the state’s highest peak.

Crews canvassed the area the following day but were unable to locate the hiker. They decided to call the hiker but couldn’t get through. According to the website 14ers, cell phone service providers AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon have excellent or good coverage on the mountain’s peak.

Yeah, that doesn’t help if you have no cell phone battery, but there are some excellent tips out there if you’re stuck in this situation that can help you and your rescuers.

Officials said the hiker had wandered off the trail and looked for it all night. However, after 24 hours, the person found the right path back to the car and left. Additionally, the hiker did not know about the search to find them.

Posting on Facebook, the rescue service stated that “the subject ignored repeated phone calls from us because they didn’t recognize the number.”

Then, a little scolding was in order in the post.

“If you’re overdue according to your itinerary,” the post said. “And you start getting repeated calls from an unknown number, please answer the phone; it may be a [search and rescue] team trying to confirm you’re safe!”

Another post from the group said, “please remember that what seems like common sense in hindsight is not obvious to a subject at the moment when they are lost and panicking.”  

Search And Rescue Free In Colorado?

Will this hiker have to pay any fees for the wild goose chase? Nope.

But things are stretched a little thin at times. According to a Colorado Sun story from February, the volunteer teams are overwhelmed. There are 2,800 volunteers for 3,600 calls for help yearly. In this hiker’s case, five rescuers looked on the first day, with only three returning the next day.

According to the Alpine Rescue Team, sheriffs and SAR teams do not charge in the state. The group wants people to know that any delays in calling can cause “needless danger” or, like in this case, a detailed search for a missing party.

The group asked people to call for help as soon as possible.