A hiker lost on Colorado’s highest peak repeatedly ignored calls from rescue crews––because they didn’t recognize the number.
At approximately 8 pm on October 18th, Lake County Search and Rescue (LCSAR) was called out for an overdue hiker on 14,440-foot Mount Elbert. The person had started hiking Mount Elbert from the South Trailhead at 9 am that morning and had not returned by 8 pm. Multiple attempts to contact the subject via their cell phone were unsuccessful.
“The subject ignored repeated phone calls from us because they didn’t recognize the number. If you’re overdue according to your itinerary, and you start getting repeated calls from an unknown number, please answer the phone; it may be a SAR team trying to confirm you’re safe!”
Five LCSAR members deployed at 10 pm to search high probability areas on Mount Elbert but did not locate the person and left the field at approximately 3 am on the 19th. At 7 am on the 19th, a team of three LCSAR members began the search in a new area where hikers typically lose the trail. At approximately 9:30 am, the reporting party reported the person had returned to their place of lodging. All personnel were out of the field by 10 am.
The hiker stated they’d lost the trail around nightfall and spent the night searching for the trail, and once on the trail, bounced around onto different trails trying to locate the proper trailhead, finally reaching their car the following day, approximately 24 hours after they’d started their hike. They had no idea that SAR was out looking for them.
One notable takeaway is that the hiker ignored repeated phone calls from rescuers because they didn’t recognize the number, reports LCSAR on Facebook. If you’re overdue according to you’re itinerary, and you start getting repeated calls from an unknown number, please answer the phone; it may be a SAR team trying to confirm you’re safe!
Finally, to Mount Elbert hikers, please remember that the trail is obscured by snow above the treeline and will be in that condition now through probably late June. Please don’t count on following your ascent tracks to descend the mountain, as wind will often cover your tracks.