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Beacon Week

In separate incidents, three emergency beacons are triggered, saving two lives

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Washington man triggers PLB after fall on Bailey Range Traverse in Olympics

On Sunday, August 31st, 41-year-old Trevin Lambert fell roughly 150 feet down a steep slope on the off-trail Baily Range Traverse in Washington’s Olympic Range, and triggered a personal locator beacon. Rangers received the alert, including a precise gps location, at 11:20 a.m. on Sunday. Three responders flew in by helicopter and found Lambert injured but able to walk. He was south of Eleven Bull Basin on steep, unstable terrain. They used a technical rope rig to get him up to the helicopter and he flew out at 7:10p.m. Lambert was on the second day of a five-day itinerary. Without some sort of beacon or phone alert, this evacuation might have taken five days or more before Lambert was noticed missing, searchers found him, and he reached an E.R.

Colorado Trio triggers a SPOT beacon on Quandary Peak

In the 9th rescue mission this year on Quandary Peak, an easy and popular Colorado fourteener, a group of three hikers changed their descent route from the normal east side trail and took a technical couloir down off the west ridge. The group became stranded atop a cliff band and used a SPOT satellite beacon to call for help at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, September 2nd.

Evacuation from the 400-foot cliff was complicated by rockfall. One rescuer was struck on the leg. The victims were eventually lowered using a rope system, and reached Blue Lakes trailhead at 3 a.m. on Wednesday. Summit County Search and Rescue noted that the trio were only prepared for a short afternoon hike, not a fourteener summit. The group apparently did not have a compass or map with which to evaluate the terrain ahead on their hastily chosen descent. All were uninjured.

Texas Soloist Triggers SPOT Beacon on Blanca Peak, Colorado

On Friday, September 5th, David Boyd (47) of Houston, Texas fell off the steep, loose Class III-IV ridge separating Blanca (14,345) and Little Bear (14,037) Peaks in southern Colorado. According to his gps data, Boyd plunged some 200 feet from the saddle. The injured scrambler triggered a SPOT beacon ‘help’ alert and his family notified authorities. A six-person search team was dispatched at 11 p.m.. Another five searchers were deployed shortly after. Crews found Boyd at 8 a.m., but he had already died.

The moral here? Search, rescue, beacons, flares, mirrors, sat phones and helivacs can make a huge difference in wilderness emergencies – but only if you survive your initial accident.

So beacon or not, still gotta stay safe campers. — Steve Howe

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