SAGUACHE COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) -- Search and rescue personnel assembled in the Sangre de Cristo mountain range Saturday morning to recovery the body of a Denver woman who failed to return from a hike. They asked other hikers to avoid the area in order to keep rescuers safe from rockfall.
Madeline Baharlou-Quivey, 29, sent a message for help from the flanks of a Colorado 14er Monday night as inclement weather rolled in. Rescuers were unable to pinpoint the location of her body until Wednesday, 43 hours after her S.O.S.
Unfortunately, continuing poor weather conditions and unsafe terrain negated any chance to bring Baharlou-Quivey immediately off the mountain. A helicopter looked for her the Tuesday morning but was unable to find her. Two search crews that reached the area later Tuesday were turned back by intensifying storm conditions.
Wednesday, her body was located in steep, technical terrain below a section of the standard route for summiting Kit Carson Peak, a narrow, angled stretch of trail between neighboring 14er Challenger Point and Kit Carson that is referred to as "The Avenue."
The Colorado Search And Rescue Association asked hikers to make alternate plans Saturday for the protection of its teams.
"The rescuers will be working in very challenging class five terrain with a high potential for rockfall," CSAR stated in a Facebook post, "and we must make every effort to keep the rescuers safe. Your understanding is appreciated."
Class 5 terrain is generally described as difficult and dangerous enough to require safety equipment such as ropes and climbing harnesses.
In August, a team of four rescuers was caught in a rockslide believed to have been triggered by climbers above them on Capitol Peak. One of the rescuers was seriously injured. The crew was trying to recover the body of a man who fell from the "Knife's Edge" feature days earlier. His body remains there, in an area deemed to dangerous to retrieve at this time.
Saturday's recovery operation is made up of technical rescuers from two local mountain rescue agencies - Saguache County Search And Rescue and Alamosa Volunteer Search And Rescue.
The person who called Saguache County 9-1-1 at 8:18 p.m. Monday said Baharlou-Quivey had sent a message saying she "off route and cliffed out" on Kit Carson and needed help, according to a Facebook post from Saguache County Search And Rescue posted Thursday. Dispatchers were told Baharlou-Quivey was an experienced climber who was well equipped with winter clothing, overnight gear, and food and water.
However, helicopter crews that found her at 3 p.m. Wednesday determined she had died due to a fall. Those crews were unable to recover her body then because of her proximity to a vertical wall. A ground team from Western Mountain Rescue climbed to within 100 vertical feet of her location but ran out of daylight to make a safe recovery and return.
Radio traffic overheard Friday suggested the person who initially called 9-1-1 was Baharlou-Quivey's boyfriend.
Thirteen agencies were involved in the initial stages of the rescue effort.
An Illinois native, Baharlou-Quivey, had recently graduated nursing school, according to a family member posting on a memorial page on Facebook. A spokesperson for Presbyterian St. Lukes Medical Center, Tana Sykes, confirmed Baharlou-Quivey began her employment at the hospital in August. Baharlou-Quivey was part of a training program for new nurses who often transition to full-time employment after two or three months. Baharlou-Quivey was working in the ortho-spine unit, Sykes said.
"She felt connected to the mountains just like her (late grandfather)," wrote Roxanne Baharlou Cornebise on that memorial page, "who took her on her first hike and taught her about hiking and she loved the mountains as much as he did. They were two peas in a pod."
Kit Carson Peak's elevation is 14,165 feet.
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