A 30-year-old man set out to complete all four Fourteeners, peaks reaching 14,000 feet or higher in altitude, in La Plata County’s Chicago Basin on Tuesday. He planned to return Thursday.
When he hadn’t returned Saturday, La Plata County Search and Rescue sent crews to the area.
The crews found the hiker with the help of good Samaritans – he was physically spent and 2 miles from the exit of the Purgatory Flats trailhead off U.S. Highway 550 north of Durango, said Ron Corkish with La Plata County Search and Rescue. Corkish believed it was the hiker’s 54th summit and that he successfully summited all of Fourteeners.
“I’m sure it took him a while to get to where he was. I just don’t know that he assessed how long it was going to take him to get back,” Corkish said. “He was just tired. ... We don’t know all the story. We just know it took him a lot longer to get out than he thought.”
Search and rescue called Flight For Life to assist in the response. While the hiker did not have any medical issues, he was physically spent, Corkish said. He said the hiker was lucky the weather was good and that he had a Colorado Search and Rescue Card, which reimburses the costs of a rescue.
“This time of year, people need to have a CORSAR card. They need to be aware of changing weather in the backcountry,” Corkish said. “Had there been a weather episode, it would have been a totally different episode.”