3 rescued after spending the night on Roan cliffs

Three hikers spent an unplanned night on the steep and dangerous slopes of Anvil Points on the Roan Plateau west of Rifle over the weekend before rescue teams from Garfield and Mesa counties were able to secure them with ropes and lead them to safety.

The three men were tired and dehydrated but uninjured after their ordeal, the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release.

The men called emergency dispatchers at 5:33 p.m. Friday to say they had climbed up a steep, rocky slope but couldn’t go up or back down due to the risk of falling from ledges.

Anvil Points is so steep it becomes vertical high up the slope, which has made it popular for wingsuited skydivers who jump from the top of its cliffs.

The stranded men told dispatchers they were out of water and unprepared to spend the night outside. Classic Air Medical helicopter in Glenwood Springs flew two Garfield search and rescue members to look for the men, while 10 search and rescue personnel responded to the Anvil Points road to search by ground.

The hikers signaled rescuers with a flashlight at dusk and confirmed their location by cellphone, but the helicopter couldn’t land in the area due to steep terrain. It dropped off the two rescuers on top of the Roan Plateau to spend the night, and late Friday night the rescue was suspended due to darkness and the men were informed they would have to wait until daybreak.

The rescue resumed at 6 a.m. Saturday with help from Mesa County Search and Rescue’s technical ropes team, and a Blackhawk helicopter from the Colorado Army National Guard High-Altitude Aviation Training Site in Gypsum was placed on standby in case it was needed for a hoist operation. Rescuers using ropes reached the hikers at 10 a.m. and after securing them with ropes were able to walk them out by 2 p.m. to a point of safety.

Twenty-five rescue personnel from the two counties responded to the incident, the Sheriff’s Office said in its release.

“Garfield County Search and Rescue reminds hikers to use extreme caution when attempting to travel in difficult terrain, make careful route selections and to be prepared with proper training, equipment and provisions,” the Sheriff’s Office said.


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