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Four Loop Pass Rescue at Snowmass Lake

Mountain Rescue Aspen Saves Stranded Hikers on Four Pass Loop at Snowmass Lake

PITKIN COUNTY, COLORADO – Two hikers attempting the popular Four Pass Loop near Aspen were rescued this week by Mountain Rescue Aspen after becoming stranded near Snowmass Lake. The rescue operation, initiated by a Garmin InReach SOS alert, underscores the vital importance of backcountry preparedness. Here are more details and advice from officials on how to avoid ending up in a similar situation yourself.

Incident Details

The Pitkin County Regional Emergency Dispatch Center received an alert at 9:27 p.m. on Sunday, June 30, from Garmin Company regarding an SOS activation in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness Area. The hikers, having lost their gear and without shelter, were found cold and wet.

Mountain Rescue Aspen was promptly contacted at 9:48 p.m., and a team of four rescuers set out on foot at 11:20 p.m. Despite hazardous weather preventing a helicopter rescue, the rescuers persevered, locating the hikers by 5:04 a.m. on Monday, July 1. The uninjured hikers were safely escorted down the Snowmass Creek Trail, reaching the trailhead at 10:17 a.m.

The Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office emphasized the importance of preparation in their news release, advising hikers to expect varied trail conditions due to lingering snow and high water, to allocate extra time for hiking, and to dress suitably for the fluctuating climate.

About the Four Pass Loop

The Four Pass Loop is a demanding 25.7-mile trail renowned for its stunning scenery and challenging terrain, crossing four 12,000-foot passes: Buckskin, Trail Rider, Frigid Air, and West Maroon. Typically completed over three to four days, hikers can also opt for side trips to Geneva Lake and Willow Pass.

Safety Tips and Lessons Learned

1. Plan and Prepare: Research trail conditions and weather forecasts before embarking on your hike. Early season hikes often encounter snow and high water, making trails more challenging and time-consuming.

2. Gear Up: Carry essential gear, including shelter, appropriate clothing for varying weather, and navigation tools. A reliable communication device, like the Garmin InReach, can be a lifesaver.

3. Stay Informed: Inform someone about your hiking plans, including your expected route and return time. This information is crucial in case of emergencies.

4. Be Weather-Wise: Mountain weather can change rapidly. Be prepared for sudden drops in temperature, rain, or snow, even in summer.

5. Pace Yourself: Allow extra time for difficult sections and unexpected delays. Don’t rush; conserve energy and stay hydrated.

By following these tips, hikers can enhance their safety and enjoyment while exploring the beautiful yet demanding Four Pass Loop and other backcountry trails. Learn more in our complete 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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