Colorado Search & Rescue Team Rescues Hiker Without Entering the Field

by Caitlin Berard
(Photo By Craig F. Walker/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Long after nightfall on September 26, the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office received an SOS from the monitoring center for Garmin inReach. The message they received stated that a 24-year-old female hiker was lost on the backside of Castle Peak, one of the tallest of Colorado’s legendary 14ers.

Officers then contacted Mountain Rescue Aspen, relaying the situation to the rescue crew and sharing the hiker’s contact information.

Once in contact with the stranded adventurer, MRA learned that she was trying to hike from Castle Peak to the Conundrum Hot Springs. She started the journey too late, however, and got lost in the growing darkness.

Because of the poor visibility, the hiker was afraid she was cliffed out, meaning she was unable to climb up or down safely. If the weather was favorable, she could potentially stay the night on the trail. Her only concern was the potential of a dangerous situation evolving from a hazardous forecast.

Colorado Rescue Crew Guides Hiker to Safety via Satellite Communicator

After studying the forecast for the hiker, MRA concluded that the safest route for everyone involved was for her to stay on the trail overnight. She had the proper equipment and was surrounded by relatively safe terrain. Before breaking contact, they assured her that they would check in on her in the morning.

The next morning (September 27), MRA successfully re-established communication with the hiker. Using two-way satellite communicators, they then guided her down the trail.

Following the step-by-step instructions of MRA, the hiker slowly made her way down the mountain. Eventually, she safely arrived at her destination without any in-person assistance. In total, three members of Mountain Rescue Aspen worked to bring the hiker to safety.

Mountain Rescue Aspen Warns Against Poor Hiking Preparation

Thankfully, this particular hiker was able to find her way out of the potentially dangerous situation thanks to her expert preparations. By staying the night on the trail, she minimized the risk to both herself and MRA rescuers.

Additionally, her two-way communicator allowed her to easily contact emergency services. Whether you’re on a solo hike or hiking with a large party, it’s always wise to carry a means of communication.

Many of the steps taken by the hiker were the correct ones. That said, the situation easily could have required a more intensive rescue mission. Even with her packing prowess, the hiker would have needed rescue in the event of inclement weather.

Because of this, MRA added a reminder to other outdoorsmen at the end of their report. “Mountain Rescue Aspen would like to remind backcountry users to be familiar with their intended route,” they said. “Be cognizant of the time required to complete the route and have adequate equipment for inclement weather.”