(CHAFFEE COUNTY, Colo.) — Chaffee County Search & Rescue North (CCSAR-N) helped a struggling solo hiker, Monday evening Dec. 26.
At approximately 6 p.m., CCSAR-N team members were paged out for a solo hiker on La Plata who had activated an SOS on their beacon. GPS data showed the subject’s position was about two miles from the trailhead below a ridge off the standard route. CCSAR-N said the hiker was in potential avalanche terrain.
The team was only receiving intermittent updates regarding the hiker’s position due to the beacon being an older device, according to CCSAR-N. The hiker’s location appeared to be stationary for quite some time since triggering the SOS beacon.
CCSAR-N said team members made verbal contact with the hiker shortly before 10 p.m. The reporting party told the team that they were experienced with winter ascents and were prepared for the summit, but did not have sufficient gear to spend the night in the backcountry.
The hiker had made the summit but re-aggravated a previous knee injury during the descent, per CCSAR-N. When the subject began feeling hypothermic, they decided to trigger the SOS beacon. After waiting some time, the subject then decided to attempt self-rescue by locating snowshoes they had stashed earlier during the climb up.
Once the hiker located their snowshoes, they started to slowly descend once again. After the subject started moving, they determined they were okay and no longer needed help. However, the hiker was unable to notify CCSAR-N, because the device used to activate the SOS did not have two-way communication capabilities.
The subject and CCSAR-N Team were back at the trailhead by 11:35 p.m. According to CCSAR-N, the hiker was able to walk again but was very cold.