4 ‘cliffed-out’ Maroon Bells climbers rescued by helicopter

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PITKIN COUNTY, Colo. — Four people had to be rescued at the Maroon Bells after they became “cliffed out” and stranded.

Crews were alerted to the two men and two women on the southwest side of Maroon Peak just before midnight Wednesday, according to the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office.

The group was able to contact the Mount Crested Butte Police Department using an InReach satellite communication device.

Police said that all four were uninjured but were tired, out of water, and sore.

Mountain Rescue Aspen and the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office put together a rescue team to head out Thursday morning.

Around 7:45 a.m., a helicopter from the Colorado National Guard HAATS (High Altitude Aviation Training Site) unit headed out.

By approximately 8:45 a.m., all four were rescued and dropped off at the Maroon Bells parking lot.

The names of the four people have not been released.

Safety at Maroon Bells

Pinpoint Weather meteorologist Chris Tomer is an experienced mountain climber. He says the Maroon Bells are “no joke” even in dry conditions, and shared the following perspective on the iconic peaks:

This year’s snowpack makes them twice as committing, requiring more gear, time and energy. The snow softens to mashed potatoes in the warmer afternoons and regaining traction can be impossible.

There are limited “safe” routes up and down the Maroon Bells.

Choosing the incorrect route often leaves you cliffed out (in a steep section too steep to descend, on a cliff essentially). It will drain you of energy and time at the very least. You can easily slide to your death.

They did the smart thing by stopping and calling for rescue.

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