High Altitude, High Risks: Backpacker Rescued Amid Surprising Snow Conditions in Summit County

SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo. – The Summit County Rescue Group successfully orchestrated an all-night rescue mission, aiding a backpacker suffering from altitude sickness near Lost Lake in the Gore Range. The group leveraged their expertise to ensure the safety of the individual, who, after receiving medical care, managed to hike back to the trailhead at sunrise.

Even though the snow did not contribute to this particular incident, the rescue team underscored the unexpected snow levels at higher altitudes. Despite dry trails visible at lower elevations, the group warns outdoor enthusiasts not to be deceived by appearances if they are planning extended backcountry adventures in Summit County.

A vivid illustration of these conditions was shared via the team’s Facebook post, showing one member standing in postholes reaching mid-thigh, created by previous hikers. The image starkly contrasts the dry lower elevations and serves as a reminder of the rapidly changing conditions that can be encountered in the backcountry.

The rescued backpacker is reported to be in good health following his ordeal. The rescue group’s medical team provided essential care, enabling him to walk out independently, turning what could have been a tragic situation into a sunrise hike with a happy ending.

Lessons Learned and Safety Tips

The successful rescue operation and the team’s observations bring several important safety tips to the forefront:

  • Be prepared for changing weather conditions: Despite lower elevations appearing dry, higher altitudes can still have significant snow.
  • Always check local weather and trail conditions before embarking on a hike, especially if it’s an extended backcountry adventure.
  • Understand the symptoms and risks of altitude sickness, which can strike hikers at high elevations.
  • Plan your hike according to your abilities. Ascend gradually to allow your body to acclimate to the altitude.
  • Carry essential gear such as warm clothing, maps, a compass, and a first-aid kit, even on shorter hikes.
  • Always let someone know your hiking plans and when you expect to return.
  • If you feel unwell, especially due to altitude, don’t hesitate to turn back or call for help. Pushing your limits can lead to serious consequences.


This news report cites information from the Summit County Rescue Group Facebook Post.

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.

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