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Quandary Peak Rescue

Hikers Rescued from Couloir on Quandary Peak After Losing the Trail

Breckenridge, CO — On Wednesday, May 22, two hikers were successfully rescued from a treacherous couloir on Quandary Peak after an extensive 8-hour operation, as reported by the Summit County Rescue Group.

The hikers, residents of Colorado’s Front Range, had ventured off the marked trail and ended up in a hazardous couloir on the south side of Quandary Peak. Despite being properly equipped for their hike, their deviation from the planned route led them into steep, icy, and rocky terrain, culminating in their slide down a 100-foot slope.

Authorities were notified just before 2 p.m., and both the Sheriff’s Office and rescue teams quickly mobilized. The hikers, unable to climb back to the ridge, attempted to descend further but became stuck in the snow-covered couloir. The rescue team deployed a drone to locate the hikers, which was successful. However, the challenging conditions required precise coordination to ensure the safety of everyone involved.

A Flight for Life helicopter transported four rescue members to the mountain’s summit, allowing them to descend into the couloir from above. Simultaneously, additional rescuers attempted to reach the hikers from below. Although a Blackhawk helicopter was dispatched, it was deemed unsafe to perform a hoist rescue due to the hikers’ precarious position.

The rescuers then decided to use high-angle rope rescue techniques to access and retrieve the hikers from the couloir. This involved navigating the difficult terrain, securing ropes to anchors, and safely lowering the hikers. Throughout the mission, another team monitored potential hazards like falling rocks and ice to safeguard both the hikers and rescuers.

By around 10 p.m., the hikers were safely escorted out of the couloir with only minor injuries, refusing medical treatment. In total, 17 members of the Summit County Rescue Group were involved in the field operation, excluding command and logistical support personnel.

As Memorial Day weekend approaches, Butler emphasized the need for hikers to remain cautious, noting that high-altitude areas are still snow-covered and pose significant risks for those unprepared. He advised early starts to hikes, when the snow is firmer from overnight freezing, and recommended using crampons in icy conditions and snowshoes or skis as the snow softens throughout the day.

He stressed the importance of planning, including informing someone of your route and expected return time. Carrying essential gear is crucial for any backcountry trip, and if trouble arises, contacting search and rescue immediately can make a critical difference in the outcome.

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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