Bowhunter rescued from McCalpin Mountain

Rescue teams responded to McCalpin Mountain north of Clark early Tuesday morning after a distressed bowhunter called for assistance.
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Search and rescue teams recovered a distressed bowhunter in a remote area of northern Routt County early Tuesday morning.

Routt County Search and Rescue Incident Commander John Williams, a six-year veteran of the volunteer agency, said he woke to a dispatch call around 1 a.m. after the 29-year-old solo hunter, located northwest of Clark on McCalpin Mountain, called 911 to request help on a rainy, cold night where temperatures dipped into the 30s.

“The real concern was she was wet and cold, and we all know, even in the summertime, that hypothermia is a reality in the mountains,” Williams said. “That can easily lead to hypothermia and things go south from there, so getting people out of harm’s way is a decision we have to make.”

After determining a ground rescue would be impossible given the darkness and the mountainous terrain, Williams requested support from a Classic Air Medical helicopter that ferried two search and rescue members to the location, dropping them off near the 9,000-foot-plus McCalpin peak just after 2 a.m.

When rescuers reached the hunter, they found her to be “very cold,” Williams said. Rescuers helped her gather her gear before moving back to the area where the helicopter could extract them; but the helicopter was unable to fully land, “so it had to orbit around the mountain until they were fully ready and then they did what is called a ‘hot load,’ which is basically where they are hovering just off the terrain.”

The crews ‘hot loaded’ the individual into the helicopter and brought her to a landing zone north of the mountain near County Road 62 where members of the North Routt County Fire Protection District waited to pick up the subject. The individual was not transferred to the hospital; first responders helped her to her car and followed her to where she was staying. Meanwhile, the Classic Air crew returned to McCalpin to retrieve a member of the search and rescue team left behind at the extraction site.

“There was great cooperation between Routt County Search and Rescue, (North Routt County Fire Protection District) and Classic Air,” Williams said of the middle-of-the-night mission. “Everything kind of came together. We were concerned about waiting all night because the only other option, if Classic Air wasn’t available, was to send a ground team in, but we were not going to do that until light the next morning.”

“Routt County is vast, and it is unforgiving, so absolutely make sure you are prepared for the worst,” Williams advised. “Over-prepare if necessary. Warm clothes are crucial, ability to make fire is crucial and making sure you have adequate lighting (such as a headlamp) is crucial.”

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