Colorado National Guard and the Alpine Rescue Team pulled off a dangerous helicopter rescue last month. Two climbers spent the night at 13,850′ on the Crestone Needle in Colorado. As the pair was ascending, one of the climbers slipped from an icy crack and fell about 30 feet. He suffered minor leg injuries, but they were severe enough that the climbers did not think they could make the final push to the summit. The only other alternative to descending the roughly 1,500′ to the base was to be airlifted off the mountainside.
Search and rescue missions typically do not include a helicopter due to high costs and increased risk. Helicopters can only fly in good visibility, low wind, and it cannot be too warm. On top of all that, operating a helicopter at high elevations is more dangerous due to the thinner air providing less lift. According to the Colorado Search and Rescue Association, in 2019 there were 2,875 search and rescue incidents, 84,276 total incident hours, and 353,655 total volunteer hours. However, only a very small percentage of those incidents include help from the sky.
“The arrival of a helicopter in a search and rescue setting should never be considered an expectation. It is an exception.”- Colorado Search and Rescue Association
- Related: Extreme Conditions Face Rescuers Looking for Solo Hiker Missing in Rocky Mountain National Park, CO Since August
Watch the full video of the hoist here: