TELLURIDE – Roughly 80 minutes after falling approximately 1,000 feet down the San Joaquin Couloir in upper Bear Creek and suffering extensive head injuries on Thursday, April 4, a skier had been successfully rescued and flown via helicopter to Telluride Regional Airport, for transport to St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction.
San Miguel County Sheriff Bill Masters said dispatch received the first responder’s 911 call at approximately 1:35 p.m., from another skier who found the victim in Upper Bear Creek, after his fall down the couloir. The first responder said the victim had a head injury, and reported other injuries, as well.
Upon dispatch’s receipt of the call, the San Miguel County Search and Rescue team was activated, under the direction of Commander Eric Berg. Members of the Telluride Ski Resort’s Ski Patrol and Telluride Helitrax were notified of the situation, as well.
Although they are not obligated to assist in a Bear Creek Rescue, both Ski Patrol and Helitrax staffers, including pilot PJ Hunt, moved quickly to assist with the rescue.
“Helitrax had some paying customers in the field, and they had to cancel that trip,” Masters said. “They came to the [Telluride] airport, picked up Commander Eric Berg, and brought him into the field. In about 44 minutes after we received the call, we had people with the patient, assessing him.”
Rescuers were able to lower the victim another 200 feet, approximately, to a landing zone, where he was picked up by Helitrax and flown to the Telluride Regional Airport. He was then transported to the Montrose Careflight helicopter and flown to St. Mary’s Hospital, in Grand Junction.
Masters said it took rescuers approximately one hour and 20 minutes to get the victim to the Telluride Regional Airport.
“The rescue went really well,” Masters said. “It was one of the quickest we have ever had. It was unbelievable how well this particular rescue went.”
As proficient as his Search and Rescue team is, Masters said, the rescue would not have transpired so quickly had members of Ski Patrol and Helitrax staff not offered support.
“Getting our team mobilized and to the top and on the scene takes a long time,” Masters said, and “without Helitrax and the Ski Patrol, it can be really difficult.
“Once again, by the grace of God, we haven’t lost another skier.”
At press-time, the victim was recovering from a concussion sustained in the fall.