Hut trip leads to rescue |

Hut trip leads to rescue

Aspen Times Staff Report

A celebrant who ushered in the new year at the Fritz Benedict Hut had to be helped down Saturday evening by rescuers after a few libations rendered him incapable of making the six- or seven-mile snowshoe trek back to Aspen.

Josh Holmes, 27, of Arvada, was OK after a dozen members of Mountain Rescue Aspen found him and then brought him down on a snowmobile Saturday night, according to Deputy Joe Bauer of the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office.

Holmes and two other Denver-area residents trekked up to the hut, located high on Smuggler Mountain, on Friday and planned to return the next day, Bauer said.

“[Holmes] was a little bit slower getting his stuff together Saturday morning, so the two other members of the party left him, with the understanding that he wouldn’t be far behind,” Bauer said.

The two reached the trailhead at 11 a.m., Bauer said, and waited until 3 p.m. before reporting Holmes overdue. Rescuers – traveling through a snowstorm – reached the hut at 6:30 p.m. and found Holmes there.

“Apparently, he had a couple more drinks before starting down, and when he did he was quite intoxicated,” Bauer said. “The group that had reservations for [Saturday] night at the hut met him on the trail, and apparently he was not doing well. He wasn’t dressed well, and he was stumbling and staggering, and they talked him into returning to the hut, perhaps saving his life.

“It could have been serious,” Bauer continued. “If he hadn’t been found by the group going up, he might have had a real problem; I don’t know if he could’ve made it out.”

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