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Nighttime Rescue Below Hanging Lake

Dramatic Nighttime Rescue Below Hanging Lake Illustrates Growing Autumn Hazards

CUSTER COUNTY, CO – Late on Saturday, October 7th, Custer County Search and Rescue (SAR) successfully completed a tense rescue operation involving two hikers stranded below Hanging Lake near Marble Mountain. The call for help came in at 19:41, triggering an immediate response from the SAR team.

The hikers found themselves in a perilous situation while descending the trail. One of them slipped on the muddy, icy, and snowy terrain, coming to rest near a tree at the edge of a steep cliff. Both were stuck and required technical lowering to get them back to safety. Eight SAR team members were dispatched to the scene and managed to safely return the hikers to their vehicle. The operation concluded in the early hours of the morning, with all SAR members returning to Search Base by 03:15.

Custer County SAR extended its thanks to the Custer County Sheriff’s Office for their assistance in the operation. This rescue serves as a stark reminder of the risks involved with hiking, especially during this time of the year when daylight is shorter and temperatures are dropping.

Safety Tips for the Public

Given the events of this rescue, here are some safety tips that all hikers should consider:

  1. Check Weather and Trail Conditions: Always be informed about the current and expected conditions of the trail and the weather.

  2. Carry Proper Gear: This includes warm layers, headlamps, and traction devices to handle variable temperatures and trail conditions.

  3. Reliable Navigation Tools: A physical map, compass, and GPS device can be lifesavers when you find yourself in unfamiliar terrain.

  4. Communication Devices: Carrying a fully charged cellphone and a backup power source can be crucial for calling for help. Satellite phones or radios are even better in areas with poor cell service.

  5. Avoid Hiking Alone: If possible, always hike with a partner. If you must go alone, inform someone of your itinerary and expected time of return.

  6. Know Your Limits: Always be aware of your physical limits and know when to turn back to avoid putting yourself in dangerous situations.

  7. Leave No Trace: Respect nature by picking up after yourself and following established trails.

  8. Be Prepared for the Unexpected: Accidents can happen to even the most experienced hikers. Carrying a basic first-aid kit, extra food and water, and emergency shelter can make all the difference in an unexpected situation.

By taking these precautions, hikers can better equip themselves against the many risks involved in outdoor adventures, potentially avoiding the need for dangerous, resource-intensive rescue operations. Learn more by reading our comprehensive mountain safety guide.

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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Hi, I'm Alex!

In 2018, I watched in disbelief as dozens of people hiked into a storm on Longs Peak, unaware of the extreme danger. Soon after, I started The Next Summit to educate and empower the public to safely and responsibly explore America's mountains.

Learn more about how we protect public lands and prevent SAR calls through education & advocacy.

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