This season has been relatively slow
[ by Mark Reaman ]
Like the backcountry around Crested Butte in general, the local Crested Butte Search and Rescue team has had a slower summer than last year. CBSAR president Randy Felix said while the team has been called out several times this summer, it is generally far less busy in 2021.
“CBSAR was much busier last summer,” he said. “In 2020, we were fielding at least a call a week for lost or overdue parties in the Maroon Bells – Snowmass Wilderness hiking between Crested Butte and Aspen. CBSAR has only had a couple calls there this summer. One was for a 17-year-old who was quite sick and was flown out of Fravert Basin by CareFlight 3 out of Rifle. CBSAR has had several missions this summer but overall, our numbers are down.”
He said the teams located closer to the 14,000-foot high peaks or close to Denver remain busy as people are still flocking to Colorado’s backcountry but apparently not venturing as far from home. “Summit County SAR has responded to more than 130 missions since January. It’s a similar story with SAR teams close to 14ers and Denver. They are seeing huge mission loads,” Felix explained.
The local team did get called out for a somewhat high-profile search last week when a couple of dirt bikers did not return after a late afternoon excursion on July 28. Felix said the two visiting females found themselves in difficult terrain as it was getting dark. They were not comfortable riding the difficult trail in the dark and made the decision to stay with the bikes until morning instead of walking out. When it began to get dark and they had not returned, a call was made to mobilize Search and Rescue. CB Search and Rescue found them in the morning with the help of some other dirt bikers in the area.
“We had team members on dirt bikes out till about 2:30 a.m. searching that night,” Felix said. “Searchers on dirt bikes found them in the morning out by Block and Tackle trail. They spent a chilly night out but were otherwise fine.”
The local team was also called at 4:40 am Tuesday to assist Western State Mountain Rescue for a sick juvenile backpacking near South Texas Lakes off of the Continental Divide Trail at the top of Cottonwood Pass. Felix said CBSAR sent two members to help Western. “After a little medical care, the patient was able to walk himself out of the backcountry with assistance from SAR. Things are picking up.”
So, as we head into August, Felix is cautiously optimistic about the load on the team. “It’s been pretty good so far, but summer is not over and we are still training hard,” he said. “August can still be busy and then we hit hunting season.”