A major rescue effort took place over the weekend to save a man who was injured in a fall while descending Mount Sneffels.
About noon July 30, the Ouray Mountain Rescue Team responded to a distress call on the mountain that came from a SPOT device, according to the rescue organization’s Facebook post.
An initial team was dispatched and rescuers learned a man had fallen while hiking down from the summit. He landed on boulders between the summit and Lavender couloir.
Inclement weather complicated the rescue.
A “storm was in full force with active lightning in the immediate vicinity, torrential downpour and hail,” the Ouray Mountain Rescue Team post on Facebook said.
A medical team waited for a break in the weather that came later in the evening. Team members hiked to the peak to access the patient in a narrow gully 500 feet below the summit. Initial care was provided and the man was kept warm and dry.
The hiker suffered a minor fracture and bruising from the fall, and was semiconscious, according to an official with the Colorado Search and Rescue Association.
Because of weather conditions and time of day, a decision was made to wait until Saturday morning to evacuate the hiker.
Another team of rescuers hiked in to deliver food, water, overnight gear for the man and oxygen.
It was well past midnight Friday when the second team hiked up to deliver supplies amid slippery trail conditions.
About 7 a.m. Saturday, a Colorado National Guard helicopter flew in with two Mountain Rescue Aspen technicians to retrieve the patient at 13,700 feet on the mountain and transfer him to the air ambulance at Jossi’s Ranch in Ouray. The patient was flown to the hospital in stable condition.
Rescue participants included Ouray Mountain Rescue Team, Colorado Search and Rescue Association, Colorado National Guard, Mountain Rescue Aspen and Ouray County Sheriff’s Office. Ouray Silver Mines helped with road repairs, and Jossi’s Ranch provided a landing zone. People nearby provided initial first aid to the patient.