Two climbers rescued after all-night mission on Quandary Peak near Breck | VailDaily.com

Two climbers rescued after all-night mission on Quandary Peak near Breck

Daily staff report
newsroom@vaildaily.com

SUMMIT DAILY — Two climbers were rescued Monday from Quandary Peak south of Breckenridge. The men had ascended via the West Ridge route but, because of snow conditions, had become stranded about 300 feet below the summit.

The Summit County Rescue Group was notified of the situation at 8 p.m. Sunday. The first team of rescuers summited Quandary on Monday around 1:30 a.m. Flight for Life was launched just prior to dusk and visually confirmed the climbers' location. However, the rescue group's summit team was unable to actually reach the two individuals during the night.

"Our team at the summit felt that with the darkness, snow conditions and the location of the stranded parties, a night rescue would be too risky. Several team members spent the night on the mountain with a plan to reassess the situation at first light Monday morning," said Charles Pitman, the rescue group's spokesman.

At daylight, responders determined that a rescue from the Quandary summit would still be very dangerous. Instead, a Blackhawk helicopter from the Army National Guard's High-Altitude Aviation Training Site in Eagle would fly to the location and a member of Mountain Rescue Aspen's search and rescue team would be lowered to the climbers and attach each of them, one at a time, to a hoist device.

The Blackhawk was on scene above the climbers at 8 a.m. Monday morning, and the climbers and all rescue teams were out of the field by 11 a.m. Monday after a 15-hour operation.

The Summit County Rescue Group would like to remind hikers that there are still winter snow and weather conditions on the peaks above 10,000 feet. It is imperative that backcountry travelers are properly equipped, fully aware of when they are getting into a situation that necessitates turning around and able to extract themselves from precarious situations, if at all possible. After last week's storm, avalanches are still a major concern, and climbers are advised to be properly equipped with a beacon, probe pole and shovel and be well versed in their use.