November/December Vail Mountain Rescue missions
EAGLE COUNTY — In the months of November and December, Vail Mountain Rescue Group was called out 14 times. Below are summaries of the most significant of those missions.
• At 4 p.m. Nov. 7, Vail Mountain Rescue Group dispatched five members to assist deputies from the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office in recovering human remains found in the wilderness west of Eagle Ranch. After recovering the body — an Eagle man who had been reported missing in November 2011 and had died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound — all rescuers were out of the field by 7 p.m.
• On Nov. 16, responding to a mutual aid request from the Colorado Search & Rescue Board, three searchers from Vail Mountain Rescue Group joined search and rescue teams from around the state in a day-long search in extreme weather conditions for an overdue hunter who was reported missing in the wilderness near Meadow Creek Reservoir northeast of Fraser in Grand County. The search was suspended Nov. 18 after searchers failed to locate any sign of the missing hunter.
• At 4 p.m. on Dec. 13, a pair of snowmobilers called 911 to report that their snow machine had become mired in the snow in the wilderness on Meadow Mountain; the snowmobilers had no food or water or survival gear, and were unprepared to spend the night outside. VMRG dispatched two rescuers on snowmobiles, who located the stranded party and evacuated them to the trailhead. All rescuers were out of the field, without injury, by 6 p.m.
• At 5:50 p.m. on Dec. 21, a party at Fowler-Hilliard hut called 911 to report that two backcountry skiers were overdue, and had taken a wrong turn while skinning up the trail to the hut. Vail Mountain Rescue Group dispatched four rescuers to Camp Hale, who snowmobiled then skied to the last known position of the lost party, then searched for the skiers in whiteout conditions. VMRG rescuers located the lost party at 2:30 a.m. on Dec. 22, and evacuated the skiers — who were suffering from the early stages of hypothermia — by snowmobile to the lodge at Camp Hale. All rescuers were out of the field, without injury, by 10:30 a.m. on Dec. 22.
• At 4 p.m. on Dec. 26, a pair of snowboarders called 911 to report that they had become lost after leaving Beaver Creek’s Larkspur Bowl backcountry gate, and after hiking for hours through waist-deep snow, were cold and tired and unprepared to spend the night outside. VMRG dispatched a team of rescuers to GPS coordinates provided by the 911 dispatcher, a wilderness area off East Lake Creek Road in Edwards. At 7:30 p.m., the VMRG team located the lost snowboarders, who were uninjured and were evacuated to safety on snowmobiles. All rescuers were out of the field, without injury, by 9 p.m.
About the Rescue Group
Vail Mountain Rescue Group is an all-volunteer organization based in Edwards that does not charge for the services it provides. For backcountry safety tips, or to make a donation, see http://www.vailmountainrescue.org
The graduates of Vail Mountain School’s class of 2019 will be off to far-flung destinations next fall, set to enter college in one of 16 different states or explore the world on a gap year. One grad is even attending college in Canada.