CLEAR CREEK COUNTY, Colo. — A man snowshoeing on Berthoud Pass ended up walking straight into trouble Sunday.
Two volunteer groups had to come to Brad Bylund’s rescue after he fell off the icy ledge of a mountain.
But the Littleton man also owes his safety to ham radio operators who called 911 for help.
“I got myself in trouble,” says Bylund about his predicament.
Grand County Search And Rescue and Alpine Rescue braved white-out conditions to answer a call for help on Mount Flora, a call that didn’t come by cell phone.
“You never know in the back country, if your cell phone is going to be reliable,” says Dawn Wilson with Alpine Rescue.
The call came by ham radio.
“It connected to a nearby tower and another ham operator received his call for help,” says Wilson.
Ironically, what saved Bylund is also what got him in trouble.
He was trying to summit the mountain to contact other ham operators through a program called Summits on the Air (SOTA).
“This was going to be my 29th peak in the last eight or nine months,” he says.
SOTA allows ham operators to accumulate points for contacting four ham operators while on mountain peaks.
“The conditions were really bad. It was white out. I could only see a few feet in front of me,” he says.
Bad weather stopped him cold. at about 12,700 feet.
“I walked right off a cornice on east side of that ridge, fell about 20 to 25 feet. I couldn’t see a thing. I was airborne and landed on my back,” he says.
And there he waited for weather to clear.
“Conditions never came. So, I made a call on my ham radio. And my fellow ham radio operators came to my rescue. I felt really good. Really good that I wasn’t alone anymore,” he says of hearing a voice respond to his plea for help.
About five hours later, he was safe at the Berthoud Pass trailhead.
“It’s my lucky day. I don’t think people walk off a cornice without injuries, without bad repercussions, without triggering an avalanche,” he says.
And without losing the whole day.
“I’ll be home in time for dinner,” he chuckles.