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Custer County SAR Conducts Heroic High-Altitude Rescue on Humboldt Peak

CUSTER COUNTY, CO – The Custer County Search and Rescue (CCSAR) in collaboration with fire helitack crews executed a successful high-altitude rescue mission at Humboldt Peak this past Monday after a hiker was injured in deep snow along the standard route.

Humboldt Peak, a remote and challenging 14,000 feet mountain in the rugged Sangre de Cristo Range, is known for its tricky terrain. Despite its classification as a class two 14er, a hiker was reported injured after a fall in snowy conditions on the mountain’s switchbacks, just below the saddle of the peak.

CCSAR noted the deep snow conditions persisting in the area, with reports of backcountry users post-holing up to their upper thighs. Traction was emphasized as a must for traversing these areas, with recommendations for the use of micro spikes and snowshoes.

The rescue operation showcased the effectiveness of the recent ‘hover step training’ conducted by the CCSAR and the helitack base in Cañon City. The aim of the training is to equip the crew to enter and exit a helicopter when there’s no place to land. Just over a week later, the two teams efficiently utilized their training to rescue the injured hiker stranded on a slope above 12,000 feet.

Safety Lessons & Tips

The incident sheds light on the essential safety precautions that hikers must take while exploring high-altitude terrains like Humboldt Peak.

  1. Know Before You Go: Always research your trail and the current conditions before heading out.
  2. Gear Up Properly: In snowy conditions, ensure that you have adequate traction gear like micro spikes and snowshoes.
  3. Watch for Hazardous Weather Conditions: Be aware of weather forecasts and avoid high-risk areas in deep snow conditions or high-running creeks.
  4. Training Matters: Acquire basic survival and first-aid skills before embarking on high-altitude hikes. If you get into trouble, they could save your life.

This high-altitude rescue underlines the significance of preparation and the need for appropriate gear when hiking in challenging terrains. Following these safety tips can ensure a safe and enjoyable hiking experience. Remember, your safety is in your hands, and understanding the risks associated with your adventure is the first step in prevention.

Alex Derr, Founder of The Next Summit

Alex Derr is an Eagle Scout, climber, and environmental policy expert located in Denver, Colorado. He created The Next Summit to help others stay safe exploring the mountains and advocate to preserve the peaks for the future. Follow him on Linkedin or Twitter or click here to contact him.

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