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1/3/2013 Missing Crestone hiker is okay

Custer County search and rescue assisted in the search for an overdue hiker in Saguache County on Wednesday, Dec. 26. The hiker, a 25-year-old man from Crestone, was found the next day in the Willow Lakes area in the Sangre de Cristo wilderness near Crestone. He reportedly suffered from hypothermia but was not transported to a hospital.

Local SAR was notified shortly before 11 p.m. on Dec. 26. Apparently friends dropped the missing hiker off at the Baca Grande Trailhead at 1 a.m. on Christmas Day.

According to those friends, the hiker was dressed in khaki pants and a hoodie. He was also carrying additional gear that included a tarp, a summer- rated sleeping bag, sweat pants, snowmobile suit and a shopping bag containing pistachio nuts, all items the friends provided.

Saguache County SAR initiated the search on Dec. 25 at 11 a.m. after the hiker did not return as expected.

Found were tracks and pistachio shells, and on Dec. 26 a team of three made it to the cave above the lakes. Also found approximately a third of the way between the two lakes were tracks.

At 3:30 p.m., the three SAR members turned back due to waist high snow in the area, and the Colorado Search and Rescue Board was called for additional resources.

Custer County SAR deployed three members at 6 a.m. on Dec. 27.

Also dispatched was a Blackhawk helicopter from the Denver area.

The Custer and Alamosa search teams stood by as ground resources to deploy via the Blackhawk if required.

Helicopter personnel found the hiker alive, hypothermic and with no gloves on. The hiker was picked up by the Blackhawk at an elevation of 12,000 feet where temperatures were below zero both nights.

An ambulance was standing by and the subject was treated for hypothermia but did not have to be transported to a hospital.

The local SAR team arrived back in Custer County at 12:35 p.m. on Dec. 27. – Nora Drenner

 
 
 
 
 
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