Saguache County SAR: Extensive recovery operation removes body of climber


Photo of the east face of Pico Aislado

CRESTONE — The body of a climber was recovered during an extensive operation Monday, June 21, in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains southeast of Crestone, according to Saguache County Search and Rescue (SCSAR). 

On Saturday, June 19, SCSAR was activated for a mountaineer that fell while climbing Pico Aislado in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The caller reported his climbing partner fell several hundred feet from the summit ridge down the near-vertical east face. 

A Flight for Life Colorado helicopter with a member of SCSAR aboard scouted the area of the accident but was unable to locate the subject or insert rescue teams due to high wind and unfavorable conditions. 

Ground teams comprised of SCSAR, Alamosa Volunteer Search and Rescue and Baca Grande Fire/EMS began hiking to the location at midnight Sunday, June 20. Teams from Western Mtn. Rescue and Chaffee County Search and Rescue South were inserted by Flight for Life Colorado at dawn. The combined ground teams located the body of the climber and determined the location exceeded the skill and technical equipment on hand to attempt recovery at that time.  

After completing scene documentation and protecting the climber's body from the elements all teams hiked out. An advanced technical rescue team was activated to perform the recovery. 

On Monday, June 21, a combined team from Alpine Rescue Team and SCSAR were inserted by a Reach Air Medical Services helicopter into the area and climbed to the accident site. The combined team was successful in recovering the climber's remains. The subject was lowered approximately 1,000 vertical feet and carried down a half-mile to a landing zone. A helicopter flew the subject out and the remains were transferred to the Saguache County Coroner. 

"Our deepest condolences to the subject’s family and friends. This mission is a somber reminder of the objective dangers of mountaineering and the arduous difficulties in responding to this type of call," SCSAR officials stated. "We can’t thank our volunteers and mutual aid partners enough for their efforts on this mission."