Castle Creek Valley was site of two separate backcountry rescues this weekend | AspenTimes.com
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Castle Creek Valley was site of two separate backcountry rescues this weekend

Crews responded to campers in distress, injured skier on weekend with variable conditions

A trail sign marks the beginning of the Conundrum Creek trail.
David Krause/Aspen Times archives

Rescuers headed to the Castle Creek Valley twice this weekend to respond to separate calls for help in the backcountry, one on Friday and one on Saturday.

At approximately 12:40 p.m. Friday, the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office “received a report of two campers in distress on the Conundrum Creek trail approximately 6 miles in,” according to a news release.

The Conundrum Creek trailhead is located about 7 miles outside of downtown Aspen via Castle Creek Road and Conundrum Creek Road. The trail is about 18 miles out and back to the popular Conundrum Hot Springs.



The report indicated that “one of the campers was suffering from frostbite and unable to move. The campers, both in their 20s, also had several items of gear break and were unable to make food.”

Friday’s weather was cold and snowy in Aspen, with temperatures dipping below freezing at times and heavy snow accumulating in the afternoon and evening.




“Mountain Rescue Aspen (MRA) was immediately notified and mobilized,” according to the release. A ground team headed onto the Conundrum Creek trail to locate the campers around 2:30 p.m.

The ground team made contact with the campers just after 5 p.m.

“The campers did not have any serious injuries and were able to walk out on their own with assistance from MRA volunteers,” the release stated. A total of 17 Mountain Rescue Aspen members and the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office contributed to the mission, and all members were safely out of the field by around 11:30 p.m.

Rescuers also were out in the field on Saturday to respond to a report of an injured skier about 2 miles up the Cathedral Lake Trail.

The Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office received the report around 12:20 p.m. indicating “the skier fell and sustained serious injuries,” according to a news release. The injured skier was accompanied by a second skier, but the report came from a passerby who saw the fall while he was hiking the Cathedral Lake Trail.

The Cathedral Lake trailhead is located about 13.5 miles outside of downtown Aspen off of Castle Creek Road. The trail is about 5.6 miles out and back to Cathedral Lake through the Pine Creek Canyon.

Again, “Mountain Rescue Aspen (MRA) was immediately notified and mobilized” to respond to the incident and sent a ground team onto the trail to locate the skier just before 1:20 p.m., according to a news release. A High-Altitude Aviation Training Site helicopter also was mobilized.

In the meantime, Pitkin County Deputy Anthony Todaro also began climbing the trail to try to make contact.

“At approximately 1:36 pm, Deputy Todaro had a visual on the injured skier and the skier’s partner,” the release stated.

Mountain Rescue Aspen crews arrived at the scene just before 2:40 p.m. and the helicopter arrived “and successfully hoisted the injured skier into the helicopter” close to 3 p.m.

“The injured skier was unresponsive and transported to the Aspen Pitkin County Airport where an ambulance from the Aspen Ambulance District had been staged to transport the injured skier to Aspen Valley Hospital,” the release stated.

All told, “11 rescuers from Mountain Rescue Aspen, (the) High-Altitude Aviation Training Site, Aspen Ambulance District and the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office contributed to the contributed to the safe and successful completion of this mission,“ according to the release. All responders were out of the field by around 5 p.m.

The news releases for both incidents included reminders for backcountry caution and preparedness.

“Mountain Rescue Aspen would like to remind people that in-between season conditions are variable and backcountry users need to be aware of seasonal transitions,” the release for the Cathedral Lake incident stated.

kwilliams@aspentimes.com

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