Rocky Mountain National Park (Colorado)
Injured Solo Mountaineer Found By Skiers, Evacuated By Rescuers
Two backcountry skiers came upon an injured 57-year-old man at the base of Ptarmigan Glacier late on Tuesday morning. He’d taken a tumbling fall (distance unknown) on Monday morning while mountaineering in the area and had been lying at that location for 24 hours when the skiers showed up.
One of the skiers contacted park dispatch via cell phone and reported the accident. A park rescue team responded to the location, which was at the 11,000-foot elevation (above treeline) and about five miles from Bear Lake trailhead. Two rangers reached him at 3:30 p.m. and found that he was conscious but suffering from numerous injuries.
Winds at the time were blowing at about 75 miles per hour, making a helicopter evacuation impossible. The rescue team therefore evacuated him via wheeled litter. They reached the Bear Lake trailhead around 10:30 p.m. and transferred him to an ambulance for transport to Estes Creek Medical Center.
The victim was alone at the time of his accident and had not been reported as overdue. It appears that an avalanche may have caused his fall. The two skiers saw the man from a distance, but he at first appeared to be part of the rocky terrain. When they got to him, they provided him with warm clothing, fluids and food, moved him from avalanche-prone terrain, and stayed with him – likely saving his life.