Hiker Suffers Serious Leg Injury, Gets Rescued 14k Feet Up Mt. Princeton

by Caitlin Berard

Offering unmatched challenges and unbeatable views, the Colorado 14ers are at the top of the list of must-try adventures for countless hiking enthusiasts. As the name suggests, each 14er exceeds 14,000 feet in elevation and while the climbs are truly spectacular, they’re also incredibly demanding. Even the most experienced outdoorsman puts their safety at risk in the endeavor.

Earlier this week, a couple who regularly enjoy outdoor adventures together were making their way up Mt. Princeton, which features a rocky, difficult-to-follow trail near its peak. While it doesn’t require any technical climbing skills, the uneven final scramble combined with the high altitude makes it all too easy to trip.

It was this unfortunate situation in which the outdoorsmen found themselves, the male hiker suffering a leg injury just before they reached the summit. Trapped at 14,120 feet, the injured hiker’s wife was able to contact Chaffee County Search and Rescue, who immediately embarked on a recovery mission.

On top of locating and transporting the hiker, rescuers had a further challenge with which to contend. It’s recommended to get an early start on Mt. Princeton, as afternoon storms can not only put a damper on the fun but make the trail far more dangerous as well. Piloting a helicopter through a mountain range in a storm is nothing short of a life-threatening undertaking.

Rescue Crews Successfully Save Injured Hiker from Mt. Princeton

With the approaching storm in mind, rescuers were racing the clock. To make matters worse, the Cañon City Helitack crew was unsure of the details of the mission. Would they be able to load the hiker directly into the helicopter, or would they need to carry him to the vehicle? If the couple was trapped in an unsafe landing location, the latter option would have to do.

Thankfully, however, the hiker’s injuries weren’t so severe that walking was out of the question. His wife helped him part of the way back down the trail, making it easier for Helitack pilots to reach them.

While the helicopter rescuers made their way toward the couple from above, two more rescuers made their way up the standard Mt. Princeton trail on foot. In another stroke of luck, ground rescue reached the hikers just as the helicopter crew spotted them from the air.

The helicopter landed safely at 13,400 feet, successfully transporting the hiker to a nearby hospital for treatment. Meanwhile, the ground crew descended the trail with the hiker’s wife.

“We’d like to thank our partners at Cañon Helitack, Chaffee County Dispatch, Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office, and Chaffee County EMS for their support during this mission,” Chaffee County Search and Rescue wrote in a Facebook post following the successful recovery and rescue of the injured hiker.