Last year, radio brand Rocky Talkie identified four outstanding search and rescue operations from a field of 40 nominees. Now, it’s recruiting help to decide how it doles out $25,000 in awards.
Anyone involved in mountain sports knows search and rescue (SAR) teams put up with a lot — and risk a lot to do it. This year, Rocky Talkie will reward a few teams who pushed the limits the furthest to save lives.
In partnership with the American Alpine Club (AAC), Rocky Talkie will distribute $25,000 among four finalist teams for the 2021 Search and Rescue Award. Each team earned its finalist status based on a 2021 rescue that demonstrated “unbelievable skill, passion, and dedication.”
The communications brand says it needs your help to determine which team will win what. Each rescue story reverberates with mountain sense, courage, and emotion. Read each one on Rocky Talkie’s website, and then cast your vote on or before May 3, 2022.
Bonus: Your vote automatically enters you in a drawing to win free radios and an AAC membership.
AAC member benefits include emergency rescue and healthcare coverage, brand partner deals, and discounted stays at various locations within the AAC network.
On July 30, 2021, Ouray Mountain Rescue volunteers endured landslides, lightning, and 2 inches of hail to save a hiker who’d fallen 40 feet near the summit of Mount Sneffels (14,157 feet). The hiker had skidded off a verglass-coated slab, hurrying to descend ahead of the storm the rescuers ultimately faced.
By the time they reached the incapacitated patient, the temperature had hit -20 degrees F, and he was hypothermic. A severe head injury complicated matters and made him combative when he regained alertness.
On October 20, 2021, Joe Walton fell 200 feet off the 2,000-foot Red Rocks classic “Epinephrine” outside Las Vegas. Simul-climbing on easy terrain near the top of the formation, Walton had slipped on a slab and ripped out every piece of gear between him and his partner, somewhere above 1,200 feet.
The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police SAR team arrived at the wall after dark via helicopter and found the climbers there with a spotlight. Their rope had snagged on “a tiny knob of rock” on the steep cliff face and, amazingly, caught them on their way down. They’d be on a ledge 1,000 feet below if it hadn’t. A complex, technical operation ensued.
On January 28, 2021, the Tahoe Nordic SAR Team searched for a lost snowboarder amid some of the most dangerous avalanche conditions the region had ever seen. Ten feet of snow over 3 days before the rescue had loaded virtually every chute in the area to the breaking point.
The snowboarder, an off-duty California Highway Patrol officer, had taken a wrong turn at Sugar Bowl Resort and landed in deep, remote powder near closing time. When the SAR team arrived, ski patrollers doubted they could find a safe route to the snowboarder’s location.
He was stuck just a mile away from where they stood. But the only safe route there required over 5 miles of snowcat and ski travel through dangerously deep powder.
On July 19, 2021, a climber in Poudre Canyon, Colo., fell 30 feet and fractured his spine. Larimer County SAR found him after dark. The climber was responsive but immobilized on a narrow ledge surrounded by complex terrain: featureless, vertical walls and broken gullies filled with loose rock.
Paramedics secured the climber, whose broken spine had punched through the skin in some places, to a litter. SAR negotiated the delicate and dangerous job of ascending and rappelling the prohibitive cliff without launching rocks into the rescue site, the rescuers, or the patient. The job took the whole night and around 50 rescue personnel.