• Photo of the continental divide blanketed in snow. NPS Photo by VIP Schonlau

    Rocky Mountain

    National Park Colorado

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Rescue Underway at Rocky Mountain National Park

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Date: May 12, 2009
Contact: Kyle Patterson, 970-586-1363

A fifty-seven year old male was discovered at 11:00 a.m. this morning at the base of Ptarmigan Glacier near Notchtop Couloir in Rocky Mountain National Park by two backcountry skiers. The men were able to contact park dispatch via cell phone at approximately 11:45 a.m. The fifty-seven year old male had taken a tumbling fall (distance unknown) yesterday, Monday, May 11, at 11:00 a.m. while mountaineering in the area. An avalanche possibly caused the fall. The victim had been lying at the base of Ptarmigan Glacier for twenty-four hours when the two Good Samaritans discovered him.

The location of the victim is approximately 5 miles from the Bear Lake Trailhead. A hasty team of two rangers reached the victim at 3:30 p.m. He is conscious and has suffered numerous injuries. There are additional rangers responding to the scene. The victim is located at 11,000 feet, above treeline, and winds are reported at 75 miles per hour. Due to the conditions and location, a helicopter evacuation is not possible. Therefore, a litter carry out will take place.

The victim was alone and he had not been reported as overdue. The two men who were skiing in the area saw the victim from a distance but initially assumed he was part of the rocky terrain until they got nearer. The two men moved the victim from the avalanche prone terrain. They have rendered aid to the victim by giving him warm clothing, fluids and food. They continue to stay with the victim and likely saved his life.

There are thirteen park staff involved. The carry out has not begun yet. Due to the terrain and snow/slush conditions it will take hours to bring the victim to the trailhead. At this point we are not releasing the names of the victim or the two Good Samaritans. The victim is from Loveland, Colorado. We do not know the hometowns of the other two.

Follow up:

Park rangers began bringing the patient out with a wheeled litter at 6:30 p.m. Rangers reached the Bear Lake Trailhead at 10:30 p.m. The patient will be taken by ambulance to Estes Park Medical Center. No further information is available at this time.

Did You Know?

a photo of a spider web

Hummingbirds use spiderwebs to bolster their nests, which are the size of a walnut shell. Hummingbird eggs are the size of a Tic-Tac breath mint.