According to the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office, a man in his early thirties fell and slid 150 to 200 feet down a steep snowfield around 7:28 a.m on Tuesday, June 11, 2019 in the area of the Fourth of July Mine.
Rescuers were flown to the scene and then hiked about a quarter of a mile to reach the injured hiker who was spotted near tree line, roughly two miles from the trailhead. The injured man was reportedly unconscious.
The man was hoisted and airlifted by a Colorado Army National Guard Blackhawk helicopter from the Buckley Air Force Base. He was later transferred to a metro area hospital by a Flight for Life helicopter, where he is currently being treated for numerous life-threatening injuries.
The rescue operations required considerable efforts from multiple agencies due to the remoteness of the location paired with the steep and snowy terrain. Overall the rescue took about four hours total from the time of dispatch.
Agencies involved in this rescue include Boulder County Sheriff’s Office, Nederland Fire Protection District, American Medical Response (AMR), Rocky Mountain Rescue Group, Colorado Search and Rescue Association, Flight for Life Colorado and the Colorado Army National Guard.
The official press release regarding this accident refers to the man as both a “hiker” and “climber”. Details are still a bit unclear with regard to exactly what the man was doing, though the known facts of the accident likely indicate he was hiking on steep terrain in snowy conditions.
Crossing a snowy snowfield can be extremely dangerous due to slippery and somewhat unpredictable conditions, especially when the grade is steep. Crampons and ice axes can help provide better traction when attempting to cross snowfields, glaciers, and icefields.
While this is the first serious hiking accident to occur this season in Boulder, several climbing accidents have been reported in the area including a 26-year-old climber who filmed their own 60 foot from the Flatirons and a climber who died after falling in Eldorado Canyon State Park.
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