Winter view of Mount Elbert in the Sawatch Mountain Range.

A winter view of Mount Elbert. Photo Credit: RobertWaltman (iStock).

Lake County Search and Rescue reports that an overdue hiker was able to self-rescue after spending the night on Mount Elbert. A team was called out to find the hiker, but was unable to connect as the hiker ignored calls from the search crew.

At roughly 8 PM on October 18, Lake County Search and Rescue was called out on a mission to find an overdue hiker that had left the South Trailhead of Mount Elbert at about 9 AM that morning. After multiple attempts to reach the party via phone were unsuccessful, a crew entered the field and searched until 3 AM, unable to locate the subject. A team started a new search at 7 AM the following morning, but by 9:30 AM, news was received that the lost hiker had made it back to their place of lodging.

According to the hiker, they lost the trail as night fell and spent the night searching for the trail. Once they found the trail, they bounced around between trails as they tried to find the trailhead they came from. They finally reached their car in the morning and had no clue that search and rescue teams had been looking for them.

Search and rescue teams had been attempting to call the subject, but the subject ignored the calls because they did not recognize the number.

Lake County Search and Rescue used this incident to point out the importance of answering phone calls when overdue on a hike. They also noted that the trails on Mount Elbert may be difficult to follow due to snow in the area, especially when wind covers prior tracks.

If you're headed into the mountains, especially in snowy conditions, bringing along a GPS communication device along is never a bad idea. Though expensive, a Garmin inReach is a great option that is reliable and often used by search and rescue crews.

Colorado's search and rescue missions are reliant on volunteers. If you'd like to help support this effort, consider purchasing a CORSAR card or making a direct donation.

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Director of Content and Operations

Spencer McKee is OutThere Colorado's Director of Content and Operations. In his spare time, Spencer loves to hike, rock climb, and trail run. He's on a mission to summit all 58 of Colorado's fourteeners and has already climbed more than half.


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(1) comment

tag soup

This is a great example of how everyone should be in the mountains. Prepared to spend the night out and have it not be very remarkable. If you have enough warm clothes, and common sense, a night out is something everyone should be prepared for. I'm thinking of those ultra marathoners in Utah or most of the people I see along the front range in the summer. Warm clothes, a space blanket, some water, matches, all can turn a night out into only a slight discomfort rather than need for a rescue.

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