Members of the Alpine Rescue Team, Rocky Mountain Rescue Group and search and rescue crews from Douglas, Custer and El Paso counties will receive the Valor Award from the National Association for Search and Rescue (NASAR) on Thursday. This is only the third time the prestigious honor has been awarded, since its establishment in 1977.
Last July the five search and rescue teams carried an injured climber to safety after he broke a leg on Crestone Needle. The Needle and the neighboring Crestone Peak are considered two of the state's most dangerous 14,000-foot peaks.
Rescuers were forced to climb nearly 4,500 vertical feet and then carefully lower the injured climber in a series of technical feats. Most of the work was done at night, in order to insure the climber and teams were off the mountain before afternoon thunderstorms. The area is known to be very dangerous because of rock fall and its 70-degree slopes.
It took 10 successive roped lowering efforts to get the climber to a place where rescuers could finally carry him to a waiting helicopter. The NASAR praises the teams for being able to find routes in severe technical terrain using headlamps, coordinating their efforts across the large mountain by radio and risking life or injury to rescue a victim in "substantial peril," while exhibiting good judgment.
The rescuers will receive the Valor Award during NASAR's national conference in Tunica, Miss. on Thursday.
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