|Two experienced mountain climbers were rescued early Tuesday morning after falling while technical climbing in the Crestone Needle area Monday evening and spending the night in the wilderness.
“They are lucky to be alive,” said John Leavitt, co-captain of Custer Search and Rescue.
The two climbers, whose names weren’t released, were a 21-year-old female and a 21-year-old male. Her family lives in Avon and his Colorado hometown was unknown.
Apparently, the two had spent the night Sunday at South Colony, and on Monday were ascending Crestone Needle when they became disoriented. As they were attempting to rappel down, their equipment malfunctioned, causing the man to fall about 30 feet, and the woman about 10 feet.
She apparently had a remote locator beacon and was able to notify her parents in Avon at about 8:30 p.m. Monday, who, in turn, notified local authorities. Local S&R volunteers received the call about 9:45 p.m. Monday night and began mobilizing their resources.
Because of the terrain, a National Guard rescue helicopter from Eagle was summoned, along with 14 elite technical ice climbers from Gunnison, Vail, Aspen, Buena Vista and Boulder who, with the helicopter, arrived in Westcliffe as dawn approached Tuesday.
In the meantime, the female victim notified her family that she and her companion had made it down to Cottonwood Lake in Saguache County on the western slope of the Sangre de Cristos, where they were plucked to safety by the National Guard Blackhawk helicopter.
The pair was brought to Westcliffe at about 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, where they were checked out by medical personnel who determined they had suffered no major injuries. Also on hand were the woman’s parents; her mother is a Registered Nurse and her father is a physician.
Local S&R volunteers were on their way to the scene mid-day Tuesday to collect the pair’s climbing gear and other belongings.
Leavitt said the climber did have a Colorado Search and Rescue card, which helps pay for rescues, but it apparently had expired on March 31. Leavitt, however, said it is unlikely the pair will face any financial responsibilities related to the rescue.
About nine members of Custer Search and Rescue took part in the mission.