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'Our Mountains... Demand Your Respect': Woman Calls For Rescue On Berthoud Pass

GRAND COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) - Search and rescue teams across Colorado's high country are pleading with novice backcountry skiers and riders to fully understand the inherent dangers that come with hiking on Colorado peaks. Grand County Search and Rescue responded to Berthoud Pass on Saturday after a 20-year-old woman from Colorado Springs found herself in a potentially deadly situation.

Backcountry Novices 1 (file photo of Mines Peak, Grand County SAR on Facebook)
(credit: Grand County Search and Rescue)

"The woman was dressed in yoga pants, a sports bra and a light jacket. She had a water bottle, maybe a light sweater. Her Husky type dog accompanied," the team stated on social media.

They say the woman was snowshoeing when she became disoriented on the top of an avalanche zone north of Berthoud Pass.

After calling 911, she was told to stay where she is and wait for rescue teams. Officials say her cell phone lost signal or the battery died -- cutting her off from any communication with the team.

They believe she was traveling from the top of Mines Peak to Mount Flora.

"The woman, accompanied her dog, decided to abandon her snowshoes and poles (because they caused her to trip and fall) and head downhill. She traveled down a known avalanche chute that has killed at least one person," the team said.

RELATED: Avalanche Near Berthoud Pass Claimed Fourth Life In Colorado In 8 Days

The woman then hiked through waist-deep snow in a drainage near Fraser River and then uphill to a switchback on Highway 40. She was able to get a ride from a stranger back up to the top of the pass where SAR members were preparing to depart for the rescue mission.

Backcountry Novices 3 (Mines Peak topo, Google)
(credit: Grand County Search and Rescue)

"The errors made here are too obvious to enumerate," the team said.

RELATED: Prepared Hiker Avoids Tragedy While Being Rescued In Lake County

Other SAR teams shared the story on their respective social media pages with the same plea.

"Our mountains are not a city park and *demand* your respect (and experience, knowledge, gear and at least one partner)," said Alpine Rescue Team based in Evergreen.

That team responded to four rescue calls on Saturday alone bringing the year-to-date total to 15 calls.

"In 'normal' years we might not see 15 in all of January-February," they stated.

During 2020, the teams says they responded to 137 rescues which is estimated to be valued at $651,946. Aside from the cost and time spent, with few exceptions, skiers and riders are not charged for search and rescue services.

2021 is off to a snowshoe hare start, with 15 missions YTD and 4 calls just today! Our winters are typically pretty...

Posted by Alpine Rescue Team on Saturday, January 23, 2021

RELATED: Safety Issues Mount As Skiers Hit Backcountry In Pandemic

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