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Texas couple rescued from Quandary Peak following 13-hour mission

A view of Blue Lakes from the East Ridge Trail up Quandary Peak. Credit: Lisa George

BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. — The Summit County Rescue Group (SCRG) successfully rescued a Texas couple from Quandary Peak early Saturday following a 13-hour technical mission.

According to the rescue group, a 26-year-old woman and 31-year-old man began ascending Quandary Peak southwest of Breckenridge around 7 a.m. Friday. However, the couple inadvertently parked at the end of Blue Lakes Road, where the West Ridge trailhead is located. The East Ridge trailhead — which leads to the much easier climb the couple intended to do — was at a different location.

In a release issued Saturday evening, SCRG said the couple knew roughly how long the hike should have taken, but were unprepared for deteriorating weather conditions, especially because they did not have clothing suited for cold weather.

As the couple neared the top of the 14,265-foot mountain, the weather quickly became poor as snow showers moved in and temperatures dropped. About 800 feet short of the summit, the couple decided to descend. However, the unexpected snowfall caused them to lose their way and drift off the trail.

The couple became stuck in a series of cliff bands and was unable to go up or down.

At 2:18 p.m. Friday, SCRG was notified of the stranded hikers. Its team was unable to quickly locate the couple on the technical West Ridge, so it asked Flight for Life to do a reconnaissance flight. The helicopter located the hikers at 4:47 p.m.

The Flight for Life helicopter was used to get two rescue team members to the East Ridge trail, and around 7 p.m., the rescuers spotted the couple.

The rescue team members descended to the hikers, both of whom were suffering from the initial stages of hypothermia. The crew worked to get the couple warm and then transport them out of the area in challenging weather conditions.

The stranded party got back on the West Ridge Trail at 9:40 p.m. Friday and all personnel were out of the field by 2:15 a.m. Saturday.

“We often find that hikers from outside the Rocky Mountain area are surprised at how quickly the weather conditions can change. In this case, the weather was overcast and chilly in the morning, with occasional showers, but the significant deterioration to the snow storm was unpredicted. As a rescue team, we can’t overstate the necessity of being prepared for such conditions during summer hikes,” said SCRG Public Information Officer Charles Pitman.

Pitman said that while the weather conditions were unusual, they were not unprecedented. He said the hikers were “very fortunate” given their lack of preparedness, but added that they worked well with rescuers to get themselves off the mountain.

SCRG thanked Flight for Life for its assistance in the rescue mission.

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