Grateful daughter raising money for Summit County Rescue Group that helped save her father | VailDaily.com

Grateful daughter raising money for Summit County Rescue Group that helped save her father

Eli Pace
Summit Daily News
The father-daughter duo is currently training for their first high-elevation mountaineering race.
Courtesy Dana Barnes

They’ve done triathlons and endurance races together before, but 26-year-old Dana Barnes is now training for her first mountaineering event with her dad.

And she’s grateful.

Barnes is grateful for the opportunity to run ridgelines with her father and for the men and women who helped save him when her dad took a violent spill off a mountainside last summer in Summit County.

Barnes’ father, Michal Ovsjannikov, is an accomplished mountaineer who was badly hurt when he grabbed a loose rock last July after summiting Peak 2 on the Tenmile Range. The rock gave way and Ovsjannikov lost his footing. The mishap sent him tumbling 60 feet down the mountain as he was training for the TransRockies Run, a six-day race covering over 120 miles from Buena Vista to Beaver Creek along the Continental Divide.

At the time, Ovsjannikov was with his training partner and brother, Martin. Martin called for help, and a crew with the Summit County Rescue Group soon found the injured ridge runner in a precarious, hard-to-reach position, recalled mission coordinator Rich Miller.

Due to where Ovsjannikov had fallen and the extent of his injuries, Miller called in a Flight For Life helicopter. But there wasn’t a landing zone anywhere in the area for the chopper, and rescuers quickly opted to radio for a Black Hawk helicopter from the Air National Guard’s High-Altitude Aviation Training Site in Eagle County, more commonly known as HAATS.

Once on scene, the Black Hawk lowered a line to Ovsjannikov and hoisted the injured man up into the helicopter before rushing him to St. Anthony Summit Medical Center in Frisco, where he was treated and released.

Had it not been for the rescuers, the helicopters or the hospital workers that day, Barnes hates to think of what might have happened.

“I really wouldn’t know what to do,” she said. “He’s like everything to me. He’s supportive. He’s always been there for my brother and me.”

Ovsjannikov’s recovery is still progressing, Barnes said. However, she and her father are training to compete in the their first mountaineering race together later this year in Austria, a neighboring country to the Czech Republic, where both Barnes and her father were born.

Ovsjannikov was out of the country and could not be reached for this story, but Barnes added that her father is also planning his return to Colorado, as he aims to finish the race he didn’t get to run last year because of the fall. Meanwhile, members of the rescue crew are happy to hear he’s back at it.

“Obviously, it makes us feel real good,” Miller said of the successful mission and Ovsjannikov’s return to high-elevation sports. “The reason we’re out there is to get people out of danger, and it’s very good to hear that he’s continuing with his career.”

As Barnes and her dad prepare to run for their first mountaineering race together, Barnes has also set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for the rescue group, a nonprofit organization that relies on its volunteers, some funding from the Summit County Sheriff’s Office, grants and individual donations.

Barnes’ goal is to raise $5,000 for the rescue group, and she said the rescuers will be able to use the money on whatever they might need — be it gear, supplies, gas or anything else that helps them conduct a safe and successful mission.

As of Thursday afternoon, the page has generated $370 for the rescue group with a number of the donations coming from Ovsjannikov’s family members. Barnes said it’s been tough getting the kind of traction she’d like to see with her fundraising effort in Michigan, where she and her father live now, but many people aren’t in to mountaineering and high-elevation sports.

“Most people (in Michigan) don’t know what it’s like to do those activities,” Barnes said, adding that she hopes getting word out in Colorado might help her reach the goal.

The timing of Barnes’ fundraising effort comes as the rescue group is now gearing up for its busiest time of the year, the summer, after working their way through a winter marred by historic avalanche activity.

Yes, it’s the summertime when the group fields the most calls, as more people venture out into the backcountry, some of whom will inevitably go ill-equipped and underprepared.

The group responds to a wide variety of calls, including everything from lost hikers to fallen ridge runners and other life-saving missions. If someone is in danger, injured or sick in the backcountry, the group’s focus becomes rescuing that individual, Miller said.

Looking at the logs, he noted the rescue group took 114 calls from 911 dispatch over the last calendar year. He said not every one of them required sending rescuers into the field, but each call was met with a response.

For Ovsjannikov’s fall, the rescue group put 28 of its members into the field, and it took the team 6 hours and 25 minutes to complete the mission. For Miller, it’s “very gratifying” that the daughter of the man they helped save last summer now wants to raise some money for the all-volunteer team.

“We don’t do it for the money, but it does cost money to do these missions,” Miller said. “And like I said earlier, the majority of our funding comes from donations and grants. It’s a very good feeling.”

People can find the GoFundMe page at bit.ly/2DNZSP0. For more about the Summit Rescue Group, go to Co.Summit.Co.Us/305/Search-Rescue.