TELLURIDE, Colo. — A group of hiking guides from Colorado were recently honored with the Department of the Interior’s Citizen’s Award for Bravery, after their life-saving efforts in 2017.
On June 5, 2017, Bill Allen, Karl Welter, and Erin Laine of Mountain Trip, based out of Telluride, were leading an expedition to the peak of Denali in Alaska. They were sleeping at Camp 1 on the Kahiltna Glacier after midnight, when they heard someone outside asking for help. An international climber had fallen into a crevasse and his partner was asking for help. The three guides jumped into action and packed their gear, before going down the glacier to look for the fallen climber.
The guides found that Martin Takac of Slovakia had fallen down a crevasse and was wedged in the narrow ice walls, about 40 feet down. The team, along with help from other guides and the National Park Service Ranger crew, were able to rappel down to Takac and free him after 14 hours. Takac was then flown to a hospital in critical condition.
The three were honored on Sept. 8, 2022, for their heroic efforts and for saving the climber’s life by U.S. Secretary of the Interior, Deb Haaland, at the 76th Departmental Honor Award Convocation in Washington, D.C.
“I’m honored to accept this award on behalf of all of the guides who make big and small sacrifices every day to help keep our guests and other members of the climbing community safe in the mountains,” said Bill Allen, Co-Owner of Mountain Trip.
The Citizen’s Award for Bravery recognizes private citizens for heroic acts or unusual bravery in the face of danger. Recipients have risked their lives to save the lives of Department of Interior (DOI) employees or the lives of other individuals while on property owned or entrusted to DOI.