A woman was lucky to survive after making “errors too obvious to enumerate” and becoming lost between Mines Peak and Mount Flora on Berthoud Pass, CO.
The 20-year-old woman was snowshoeing with her dog in the Colorado backcountry when she became disoriented on the top of an avalanche zone north of Berthoud Pass. After trying to call her boyfriend, she called 911 and was told to stay where she was and wait for the rescue teams, before either her cell battery died, or the signal was lost.
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Instead, she decided to abandon her snowshoes and poles, as they were causing her to trip and fall, and began heading down the avalanche chute, where at least one person has been killed before.
She managed to hike through waist-deep snow in a drainage, and then uphill to a switchback on US Hwy 40, where a stranger picked her up. She was taken back to the top of the pass where SAR teams were about to depart on their rescue mission.
The woman was dressed in yoga pants, a sports bra, and a light jacket. The incident prompted a number of social media posts from SAR teams across COlorado, requesting people take the backcountry seriously and give it the respect it deserves.
“Our mountains are not a city park and *demand* your respect (and experience, knowledge, gear, and at least one partner).”
– Alpine Rescue Team based in Evergreen
Grand County Search and Rescue responded to four calls on Saturday, bring the total for 2021 to fifteen. The team says in a normal year they might not see fifteen in January AND February.
In 2020, the teams responded to 137 rescues, at an estimated cost of $651,946. Aside from the cost and time spent, with few exceptions, skiers and riders are not charged for search and rescue services.
Today’s rescue page was typical of the problems SAR teams have had recently with novices venturing into the backcountry unprepared. This is the narrative.
A 20-year-old Colorado Springs woman went for a short snowshoe from the top of Berthoud Pass. The woman was dressed in yoga pants, a sports bra, and a light jacket. She had a water bottle, maybe a light sweater. Her Husky type dog accompanied.
She became disoriented and, after calling her boyfriend, called 911. Her 911 coordinates put her at the top of an avalanche zone north of Berthoud Pass. She was advised to stay put and wait for rescue. Her cell phone then lost service – either low battery, or no service.
GCSAR started a full response.
The woman, accompanied her dog, decided to abandon her snowshoes and poles (because they caused her to trip and fall) and head downhill. She traveled down a known avalanche chute that has killed at least one person.
At the bottom of the chute she encountered waist deep snow. She was able, somehow, to travel uphill to a switchback on Highway 40.
A passerby picked her up and brought her back to the top of the pass just as SAR members were gearing up to head into the field.
The errors made here are too obvious to enumerate.
Please – educate yourself on backcountry hazards, travel with a partner and carry the proper clothing and equipment for the environment.