Volunteering with Chaffee County Search and Rescue North has shown Nancy and Scott Anderson that there’s more to backcountry safety than the 10 Essentials.
DISCOVER correspondent Maisie Ramsay spoke of the Andersons’ concern about encouraging visitors to 14,000 feet without adequate emphasis on safety.
“Things that may seem obvious to us — cell reception at the summit, but none at the trailhead, multi-hour wait times in the event of rescue, altitude-related fatigue — may not even occur to them,” Ramsay said.
Everyone venturing into the backcountry should carry the 10 Essentials and follow basic guidelines listed on the Chaffee County Search and Rescue - North website,
Here are some other important items the Andersons say travelers should bear in mind:
You cannot rely on cell phones to work in the backcountry. Cell reception at lower elevations is usually poor. As a result, your cell phone may work at the summit but not at the trailhead. You might not be able to check in with loved ones or call for help, especially once you’re off the summit.
It’s not enough to merely tell someone where you’re going and when you’ll be back. Write it down. Verbal communication alone can result in misunderstandings, panicked relatives and unnecessary emergency personnel deployment. If your loved ones think you’re supposed to be back Saturday, but you actually said Sunday, you run the risk of unintentionally launching an all-out search effort.
The best way to notify Search and Rescue is 911, says Chaffee County Sheriff John Spezze. Do not send a message on Facebook. Do not leave a voicemail message with the sheriff’s department. Simply call 911. Dispatchers will need specific information about the party’s destination to route the call to appropriate resources, so make sure to have as much detail as possible.
Buy a CORSAR card. Without it, Chaffee County Search and Rescue will still come to a victim’s aid, but it cannot be reimbursed for any expenses associated with the rescue. The CORSAR card is not insurance. It is an important funding mechanism for Colorado’s all-volunteer search and rescue teams. The card can be purchased at most local outdoor shops or online at https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/dola/search-and-rescue-fund.