One after the other: Two 14er rescues near Aspen | VailDaily.com

One after the other: Two 14er rescues near Aspen

Jason Auslander
The Aspen Times

Mountain Rescue Aspen volunteers had been out of the backcountry for about 45 minutes Monday when emergency dispatchers received another call about stranded climbers on a nearby fourteener, officials said.

So two more teams headed out into the field to pluck two more ill-prepared, stranded hikers off another one of the highest peaks in the state, said Alex Burchetta, director of operations for the Pitkin County Sheriff's Office.

This time, the hikers were on Capitol Peak, located near Old Snowmass, he said. The man and woman were stuck on the peak side of the Knife's Edge, which must be traversed on the way to the Capitol Peak summit, Burchetta said.

"It's snowing and thundering up there," he said before the two were rescued.

Mountain Rescue Aspen decided to send in a ground team and insert another team by Blackhawk helicopter to get to the couple as soon as possible, Burchetta said.

By 6:10 p.m., the two hikers, Caroline Lupini of Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Steven Mills of Longmont were brought to safety, the Sheriff's Office said.

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The two were uninjured, and with the assistance of members of Mountain Rescue Aspen and the High Altitude Army Training Site, they crossed the Knife's Edge.

A person who had seen the troubled hikers had called emergency dispatchers about 12:30 p.m., around the same time Mountain Rescue Aspen volunteers cleared the field from an early Monday morning rescue on North Maroon Peak, according to Burchetta and a Sheriff's Office statement.

Dispatchers were first notified of those two stranded hikers about 7:25 p.m. Sunday, when the International Emergency Response Coordination Center called to report an SOS activation from a personal locator beacon, the statement says.

The message from the beacon said, "Two adult males stuck on mtn no descent or ascent possible no water little food," according to the statement. GPS coordinates sent along with the message pinpointed the men's location as below the North Maroon summit at about 12,000 feet.

Sheriff's deputies were able to communicate with the men via satellite text messaging and determined they were not hurt, according to Burchetta and the statement. Unless there's a confirmed injury, the Sheriff's Office and Mountain Rescue Aspen generally do not undertake nighttime missions, Burchetta said.

Mountain Rescue Aspen sent out two ground teams by 4:50 a.m. Monday, with the first making contact with the hikers from below about 5:50 a.m., the statement says. The second team, which approached the hikers from above, made contact by 7:40 a.m. and lowered the two men 300 feet over cliff bands to safety.

Rescue volunteers were out of the backcountry by 12:30 p.m., according to the statement.

Ages and hometowns of the two men from North Maroon were not available Monday, Burchetta said.

jauslander@aspentimes.com