SAN MIGUEL COUNTY, Colo. - A climber who fell more than 1,500 feet on a 14,000+-foot high peak in southwestern Colorado has been rescued.
The San Miguel Sheriff's Office said John Rohdes, 60, spent the night at Navajo Lake Monday night. He started to climb El Diente Peak on Tuesday.
Rohdes told deputies that he was climbing a large rock when the rock moved and he fell 1,500 to 1,700 feet vertical feet. Rohdes broke his leg and suffered several cuts on his face.
A helicopter with night-vision was called in, but it could not land near Rohdes, due to the rugged terrain, the Sheriff's Office said.
The helicopter dropped a backpack of survival gear, but because of darkness and Rohdes injuries, he couldn't reach it, officials said.
Rohdes was able to communicate by cell phone with rescuers.
"We were becoming increasingly concerned for his health and safety, especially with the falling temperatures and threat for hypothermia," Sheriff's deputy and SAR coordinator Chris White said in a statement sent to 7NEWS.
White said officials decided to insert the search and rescue team overnight, even though he called that a "highly unusual move."
Officials said the San Miguel County Sheriff’s Office (SMSO) Search and Rescue search was doing training when they got the call Tuesday night.
One-by-one, the five-member team from flown to the Navajo basin. The rescuers each hiked 1.5 hours to reach Rohdes. They reached him at 4 a.m.
"The SAR team administered warm fluids, stabilized the patient and set up camp," the Sheriff's Office said.
Rohdes had managed to splint his leg with snow shoes, officials said.
Rohdes was bought out Wednesday morning.
The rescue is being called the first night-vision assisted helicopter rescue in San Miguel County.
El Diente Peak sits at an elevation of 14,159 feet near Telluride. While the peak is over 14,000-feet high, 14ers.com does not rank it as one of Colorado's 53 14ers.
"To be ranked, a peak must rise at least 300 feet above the saddle that connects it to the nearest 14er peak (if another exists nearby)," 14ers.com says. "This guideline has been in use in Colorado for some time."
El Diente is typically climbed with Mt Wilson and Wilson Peak. See photos of the three peaks on 14ers.com.