Dawn Wilson of Alpine Rescue Team fame laughed with fellow search and rescue volunteers Friday afternoon while setting up a rigging system to practice rappelling down the side of sheer cliff walls in Summit County. It's just the start of SARCON, a search and rescue convention where teams from all over Colorado meet up, swap techniques and stories, and share data on what they've seen as rescue calls that year.
Figuring out what works for what area is key, Wilson explained.
"There's not always one right way, there's different right ways -- because some teams have more money than others, so they have different equipment that they can have. Some teams have five members, and some have 55 members. So what you can do is very different," Wilson said.
This year also happens to be the 50th anniversary for CSAR, the over-arching nonprofit organization that includes all of Colorado's search and rescue teams across the state, as well as Summit County Rescue Group and Flight for Life. Those years organizing and training volunteers to help make Colorado's backcountry (or anywhere someone gets lost) have accounted to thousands of successful calls for help. In that time, Wilson said the equipment changes, but the mission does not.
"As technology improves, how we respond is going to change and how equipment improves, how we respond is going to change," Wilson explained.
Colorado has also seen a continuous rise in visitors holding steady apart from pandemic years. Those additional visitors mean additional chances a search and rescue crew is needed, and the risks of Colorado's beautiful landscape can be significant.
"We do have so many people who want to be outdoors and we have such an amazing backcountry so close to Denver. So you can fly in and just hike up a 14er within the same day, and so Coloradans know that's not always the best idea if you're from flatland," Wilson said, alluding to some of the rescues search and rescue teams have been called on in the past.
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