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RMRG is a fully
accredited Mountain Rescue Association (MRA) team

For rescue assistance, call 911 or Boulder County Sheriff's dispatch
(303) 441-4444

Thanks to our supporters:
(Flash video listing RMRG suporters)

Accident Analysis and Rescue Reports

January 26, 2013; Unfounded Fear of Rescue Costs Delays and Complicates Rescue

Rocky Mountain Rescue Group (RMRG) does not charge for helping those injured or lost in the mountains. Experience has shown that fear of charges for rescue can delay or altogether prevent legitimate calls for help. Delays may increase the risks for both the individuals needing rescue and the rescuers. An example:

On the 26th of January 2013, three climbers were rappelling off the Third Flatiron (photo, right) around sunset after climbing part way up the East Face route on an unseasonably warm winter day. As they pulled their ropes from one of the anchors, their rope became stuck above them while they were still about 200' above the base of the cliff (lower photo, right).

"After the rope got stuck we attempted to free it ourselves, and then asked for help from nearby climbers. When neither of those solutions worked we discussed calling for help for probably 90 minutes", said one of the climbers. Rain started to fall, and despite being stuck 200 feet off the ground and not having appropriate clothing and equipment for the now dark, cold, and rainy conditions, the climbers still delayed in calling for help. They eventually called 911 and RMRG responded. Volunteer rescuers climbed above the stranded party on rain-soaked slick rock, established lowering anchors, and used the anchors to assist the climbers to the ground.

While hiking out with the stranded party, RMRG learned that the stuck climbers were college students who feared that they could not afford to pay for the costs of the rescue. The stuck climbers had assumed that rescuers would charge for services. The climbers said "we didn't know that the rescuers were volunteers and that they don't charge to rescue people."

It is likely that if the climbers had not delayed a call for help, the technical access to the stuck climbers would have been achieved in dry conditions which would have been a safer climb for rescuers and become a faster rescue. Temperatures that night fell to near freezing, luckily the underdressed climbers were still able to function and assist in their own rescue.

The stuck climbers were reasonably equipped to complete the climb in daylight and with good weather. They were not prepared for complications such as a stuck rope, darkness or deteriorating weather.

First, they attempted to solve the stuck rope problem themselves, then they asked for assistance from nearby climbers. These were appropriate actions in their situation. However, even if self rescue is being attempted, RMRG still encourages calling for help early. If the problem is solved before RMRG arrives, then rescuers go home relieved. If not, rescuers are on scene earlier. In this case it would have meant the difference between a dry and quick rescue; and a wet, cold, and more dangerous one.

RMRG and the overwhelming majority of mountain rescue teams in the United States are comprised entirely of volunteers. Volunteer rescuers enjoy using their skills and experience to help others in need. Rescuers are excited to provide assistance any time someone is lost, injured, or doesn’t believe they can safely get themselves back home.

RMRG would like to thank the three anonymous stuck climbers who volunteered to share their story and who offered to help spread the word about the No-Charge-For-Rescue philosophy that guides the Rocky Mountain Rescue Group, the Mountain Rescue Association (PDF), the Colorado Search and Rescue Board, the National Association for Search and Rescue, the National Park Service and the US Coast Guard.

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3720 Walnut St, Boulder, CO 80301, USA

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