National Guard helicopter assists Mount Wilson rescue southwest of Telluride – The Durango Herald

The National Guard flew a UH-60A Black Hawk helicopter from Gypsum to rescue an injured mountain climber on Mount Wilson on Saturday afternoon. (Courtesy of the National Guard)

The lower leg of the solitary climber crushed by the rock; lowered line for helicopter extraction

Rescue teams, mountaineers and a National Guard helicopter helped rescue an injured mountaineer on Mount Wilson southwest of Telluride on Saturday.

Around noon, a lone climber at 13,800 feet was seriously injured after a rock rolled over his lower leg and caused a “crushing injury”, according to a Dolores County search and rescue report released on Facebook.

The man, who has not been identified, was restrained and a helicopter extraction was requested because the remote location did not have a landing spot, Dolores County Captain Keith Keesling said.

Local mission-capable helicopters had gone to fight fires in Oregon, so Keesling requested help from the high-altitude Army National Guard Aviation Training Site at Gypsum.

“They accepted the mission and sent a UH-60A helicopter to the scene, dodging a few thunderstorms along the way,” he said.

Members of the Colorado Search and Rescue team were on board to assist.

Rico Search and Rescue has set up a landing zone at the Kilpacker Trailhead. Teams from Rico, the West Fork Fire Department and San Miguel Search and Rescue were on standby in case the injured climber needed to be reached on foot. The San Miguel Sheriff’s Office also sent their new high-altitude helicopter to help locate the climber and assess the situation.

At approximately 2 p.m., the National Guard team aboard the UH-60A Black Hawk was able to lower a rescuer in a line to the injured, and the climber was hoisted to the helicopter.

Prior to extraction, the Black Hawk crew determined that they needed to reduce weight to perform the hover maneuver necessary for rescue. He dropped off two crew members at a lower altitude and then flew to reduce his fuel load, Keesling said.

The injured man, apparently in his 40s, was airlifted to Telluride Regional Airport and transported by ambulance to Telluride Medical Center.

Keesling said the climber must be fine. He’s not from the area. Mount Wilson, 14,252 feet, is ranked fifth among fourteen toughest in Colorado.

An injured climber on the slopes of Mount Wilson took this photo from his location on Saturday. He was successfully rescued and recovering. (Courtesy of Dolores County Search and Rescue)

An injured climber on Mount Wilson had to be rescued by helicopter by the National Guard on Saturday. (Courtesy of Dolores County Search and Rescue)

Cell service is a perk of the high peaks in that area, Keesling said, and the injured man dialed 911.

Keesling remained on the phone with the man as the rescue unfolded.

“He was full of adrenaline at first, then he faded. There was a risk of shock and complications from the injury, a lot of swelling. He was very, very ready to go,” Keesling said.

Four other local climbers helped the injured man and stayed with him, he said. They used a first aid kit, including an ice pack, to help.

After the rescue, a second call came in for four overdue climbers in the same area of ​​Mount Wilson. The four were determined to be the climbers who assisted in the rescue, and they made it out unharmed.

It was the second mountaineer rescue in this region this month. On August 1, an injured man was rescued by helicopter near El Diente peak at an elevation of 14,175 feet.

“These are tough mountains. The rescue went flawlessly,” Keesling said. He noted nearby thunderstorms and lightning were a concern, but he stayed away during the rescue.

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