Lost Hiker on Little Bear-Blanca Traverse – June 24, 2023

On June 24, 2023, AVSAR received a call in regards to a hiker that had gotten lost while down climbing the LB-Blanca traverse.

Because the lost hiker had cell service, AVSAR sent him a SMS locator through SARTOPO, CalTopo . It was then found the hiker was in the Blanca creek Basin, off of the LB-Blanca traverse.

AVSAR requested assistance from Guardian1 out of Alamosa, but while en route, the pilot timed out of flight hours. Then Lifeline5 helicopter was dispatched to Incident Command. Lifeline5 attempted to insert two AVSAR team members under night vision goggles. Unfortunately, once over the Blanca Basin and after spotting the hiker, there was no ambient light to be able to land safely in the Basin. They would then insert at first light. AVSAR Leadership remained in regular contact with the hiker via text message and calls to continually assess the hikers mental and physical status.Once contact was made with the hiker, it was apparent the hiker was suffering from a medical emergency related to being extremely dehydrated and hypothermic. Next an AVSAR RN was inserted with medical supplies and another AVSAR team member to begin to help stabilize the hiker.

It was then decided this hiker needed an emergency evac. Canon helitack was requested for a STEP extraction. And REACH 29 helicopter was requested for medical assistance. The hiker and two AVSAR team members were extracted via Hover STEP extraction, once at ICP, the hiker was transferred to REACH29 to begin immediate medical treatment, in addition to what was done in the field. They then flew the hiker to the SLV hospital.

This is a great example of why the ten essentials are critically important to have. The hiker quickly deteriorated because he did not have access to water and extra layers beyond what he had on him. His headlamp was dying and had no additional lightsource.

We cannot thank our assets enough for their unending support!
Costilla County Sheriff’s Office
Alamosa County Sheriff’s Office
Eagle Air Med
REACH Air Medical Services
Canon City Helitack
Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control