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San Miguel County Sheriff News

Posted on: December 30, 2015

[ARCHIVED] Ice Climber Rescued Near Telluride

Ice Climber Rescued in Backcountry Near Telluride

Contact: San Miguel County Sheriff Bill Masters 970-729-2025
or Public Information Officer Susan Lilly 970-729-2028

December 30, 2015 -- (Telluride, CO) – An ice climber was rescued by San Miguel County Deputies and its Search and Rescue (SAR) team after falling ill, cancelling the climb, and attempting to self-rescue Wednesday afternoon out of a backcountry area around Ames near Telluride.

A Colorado man in his twenties, and his climbing partner, a Utah woman in her thirties, began their trek in deep snow up the “Galloping Goose Trail” just after 7 o’clock Wednesday morning with plans to hike a popular climb referred to as the “Ames Ice Hose.”

The climbers told Deputies they reached the base of the climb after 3 hours of hiking, but the man felt too ill to attempt the climb, and they turned around to head back. The man’s condition worsened during the descent with increasingly painful and relentless bouts of nausea and vomiting, which ultimately hampered their egress. They placed a 9-1-1 call at 12:15pm and provided GPS coordinates of their location.

Five SMSO Deputies were immediately dispatched and a “staging” area was established by the Ames power plant, about 10 miles southwest of Telluride.

The female climber is a former EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) and has Wilderness First Responder training. She reported giving the man warm fluids and trying to keep him ambulatory in an effort to both help warm him and expedite extrication. However, she told Deputies that the man’s condition was deteriorating; he could not keep the fluids down, he was becoming non-ambulatory due to attacks of violent vomiting, and reportedly hypothermic. The temperature in the area was an estimated 0 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit.

Deputies sent in a “hasty team” of three, including a SAR volunteer, while equipment, including two snow machines, was brought to the scene. “Hasty Teams” are designed to quickly go to the incident location, establish patient contact and perform interventions to stabilize the patient, and communicate patient condition and any resources and equipment needed.

A second team was dispatched on snow machines once the equipment arrived to the staging area. Patient contact was established just before 2pm, and the patient was transported, via snow machine, to the staging area where awaiting Telluride EMS personnel treated and transported the patient to the Telluride Medical Center.

Sheriff’s Deputy Chris White served as Incident Command on Wednesday’s “quick and seamless” mission. “The mission was accomplished rapidly in part because the patient was ambulatory for hours in their motivated attempt to self-rescue, as well as the solid decision-making and thorough communication from his climbing partner.”

Sheriff Bill Masters also noted the good fortune of the patient. “There were a confluence of factors working to his benefit, and without perhaps just one of them, this could have easily had a tragic outcome. Everyone engaged in backcountry recreation needs to be prepared for the day when factors like these do not come together.”

Additional SAR members were placed on stand-by in the event more personnel was needed for the mission, but ultimately stood down.

The San Miguel Sheriff’s Office, located in Telluride, Colorado and established in 1883, serves 7,800 residents and countless visitors across the 1,288 square miles of San Miguel County. Sheriff Bill Masters has been serving as the county’s elected Sheriff since 1980.

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