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DENVER (KDVR) — About 3,000 search and rescue incidents are called in every year across the state – this is according to the Colorado Search and Rescue Association.  

In just three days, there have been at least five rescues including two hikers with altitude sickness Saturday in Pitkin County.

Rescuers said an injured climber in Poudre Canyon on Sunday did everything right but she started climbing away from the rope. When she fell, she swung like a pendulum and ended up breaking her ankle and needed to be rescued.  

Now Colorado search and rescue groups are ramping up as they say the days between Memorial Day and Labor Day are their busiest. 

“We’re responding more and more because calls are going up as people are going out and they’re not educated yet,” said Rebecca Clark with Poudre Fire Authority.   

“Even before the pandemic but certainly, with that, a lot of more people are kind of getting out on the trails,” Drew Hildner with Rocky Mountain Rescue Group.  

Rocky Mountain Rescue Group said to make sure your plan your route ahead of time, use the buddy system, let someone else (who’s not on the trip) know what time you should be back, and don’t feel pressured to get to the finish.   

“Getting to your objective is is not mandatory, whereas getting home is,” Hildner said.  

The 10 essentials of hiking

Experts said for a day trip you should pack as if you’re leaving for 24 hours. 

Using these 10 essentials as a guide:

  1. Navigation map, compass, altimeter, GPS device
  2. Headlamp
  3. Sun protection
  4. First aid 
  5. Knife
  6. Fire 
  7. Shelter 
  8. Extra food 
  9. Extra water 
  10. Extra clothes 

Especially this time of year, people are often caught out with how quickly it gets cold once the sun goes down. 

“You need to be drinking about half a liter or two cups of water per hour of your recreating outside,” said Clark. “The more water that you need.” 

Altitude sickness signs and symptoms

Be aware of altitude sickness if you have friends visiting from out of state get them to stay the night at altitude first. 

“At least a night before then trying to go up to higher altitude to give some time to climatized,” said Hildner.  

If they still experience altitude sickness here are the things that you should be looking out for:

“Those are going to present almost like a hangover. Just not feeling very energetic having a headache, not kind of feeling on top of your game, cognitively,” Hildner said. “But that can sometimes also affect your coordination.” 

However, if you don’t turn around at that time your symptoms may persist.  

“[Into the other two forms of altitude sickness] one is high altitude pulmonary edema or HAPE, or high altitude cerebral edema or HACE. Those are the more severe forms of altitude sickness they both cause pulmonary edema causes fluid buildup in your lungs and then cerebral edema causes fluid buildup in your brain. If you ignore the signs of altitude sickness and you keep hiking up, you’re really a danger of getting either HAPE or HACE,” said Clark. “Those can be those are actually life-threatening.”   

They also remind everybody that search and rescue calls in the state of Colorado are completely free so you should not hesitate to call early. Also, remember you can text 911, so if you don’t have enough service to call, you can squeak a message out.  

Additionally, Clark said to write your information down on a piece of paper and put it on your car’s dash visible from outside at the trailhead so that search and rescue crews know when you left and when you were expected back and they can go looking for you if you’re overdue.