Summary of Activities 2014
RMRG had 156 calls for assistance in 2014, which, although not our busiest year, continues to be above the 5-year average of 142.
Some notable trends this year include twice the usual number of Indian Peaks calls (20), which generally involve long approaches and evacuations. Several of these patients were flown out by helicopter, one wheeled evacuation was over 5 miles long, and one young patient was walked out over the divide in a cooperative effort with Grand County Search and Rescue. Closure for family, friends and searches of Pat Wallace was possible this year when a family backpacking on the west side of the Continental Divide found her remains in Grand County. She had been missing since July 3, 2012.
There were 15 mutual aid calls which is higher than average. Several notable multi-day winter missions occurred with RMRG members assisting. A lost backcountry skier near Vail, a missing father and son hiking near Mount Evans, and an overdue soloist on Longs Peak all involved multiple day searches in full winter conditions.
We continue to see many rock climbers and scramblers stuck or injured in the Flatirons, Eldorado Canyon and Boulder Canyon. We had 5 vertical evacuations and two mid-wall litter loading evacuations for badly injured rock climbers. These were challenging technical missions requiring large response and multiagency coordination. Our training paid off with efficient, effective resolutions.
Between September and the end of the year we had many more missions than usual for the fall/winter season. Many of these were after dark and required lead climbing techniques on 5th class terrain. Many members burned through quite a number of headlamp batteries! One notable mission involved a stuck climber on the rappel descent off the Maiden. He was ~30 feet above the Crow's Nest, which is already a full pitch of 5.6 ridge climbing from the ground. This sketchy, poorly protected approach was made more difficult by the dark and very windy conditions. Once at the Crow's Nest, an RMRG member had to climb to and above the stuck rappeller and pick him off. He was appreciative to say the least as he spent several hours in his harness worrying about his rope cutting as he swung in the wind.
Damage to trails and emergency access roads and less stable terrain resulting from the 2013 flood continued to plague RMRG and Boulder County. Many approach and evacuation routes have been destroyed and trees and other anchor points undermined. Unstable conditions were found in many places and kept us on our toes. This new normal will no doubt be an issue for several more years as conditions stabilize.