When people have been lost in the Colorado high country for more than four days — a good part of that time in blizzard conditions — it’s not unusual to expect the worst.

So the rescue of three Denver-area hunters Wednesday from the east side of the Flat Tops, north of Glenwood Springs, where they had been lost since Saturday, is definitely reason to celebrate. That’s especially true since all three were reportedly in good condition, other than suffering from mild hypothermia.

The three men — whose names had not yet been released as this was being written — survived long enough to be rescued in large part because they did one important thing right: They stayed put.

They huddled around a fire they had built and melted snow for drinking water. They used their radios as long as the batteries lasted, and then their guns to try to let their hunting companions and rescuers know where they were. But they didn’t try to hike out in the blowing, deep snow and they didn’t confuse rescuers by continuing to move, as many people before them have done.

Their rescue came thanks to the dedicated work of Army National Guard helicopter pilots who landed in a tricky spot and flew the hunters out one at a time. But it was also thanks to search and rescue crews from Eagle, Garfield and Mesa counties, who struggled during days of bad weather to attempt to locate the missing men.

Good work by all those involved saved lives.


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