A Missouri man was airlifted to Aspen Valley Hospital late Tuesday night after being stranded at Snowmass Lake, where his “condition warranted immediate extrication and medical attention,” the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office said in a press release.
The search and rescue effort for Christopher Michael Fontaine, 28, from Grain Valley, Missouri, began after authorities received a call from his employer that he had not reported to work Tuesday morning.
Mountain Rescue Aspen volunteers were dispatched to the area at approximately 2 p.m., with one group hiking the Snowmass Creek trail to Snowmass Lake and the second rescue group hiking the Maroon Creek trail to the lake.
Rescuers located Fontaine at approximately 8:50 p.m., and a Flight for Life helicopter from Frisco arrived at approximately 10:30 p.m. to airlift him to the Aspen hospital. While nighttime rescues are uncommon because of the added risk, “due to the reported severity of Mr. Fontaine’s condition it was deemed necessary to deploy personnel and a helicopter in the dark,” the Sheriff’s Office said.
The lake, at an elevation of nearly 11,000 feet near the extreme western edge of Pitkin County, is located about 10 aerial miles west of Aspen. It is a popular midpoint camping spot for hikers planning to summit Snowmass Mountain, a fourteener.