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Chapman Croskell

Larimer County Search and Rescue sees its workload double as more hikers find themselves in distress

Red blotches on a map show Horsetooth Mountain, Greyrock Mountain and a section of Cameron Pass are the most likely places where Larimer County Search and Rescue will be called to save distressed hikers this summer.

As the county’s population and tourism industry continue to grow, local rescue crews are gearing up for what could be another record-setting season for rescues.

LCSAR volunteers responded to more than 200 events last year, up from the roughly 100 calls that involved some form of search and rescue response in 2009. Those events involve everything from a cellphone call from a lost hiker to a full-blown rope rescue of a severely injured climber.

“Horsetooth (Mountain) is more of a rescue place, where Greyrock is more of a lost place,” said Justin Whitesell, emergency operations manager with the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office, which helps coordinate county search and rescue operations. 

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Carry-out assists for hikers with broken ankles are almost commonplace at Horsetooth Mountain Park, coupled with the occasional report of someone situated precariously on a ledge. 

Last week, a 14-year-old boy fell at a nearby waterfall and nearly drowned, prompting an anxious emergency response. Horsetooth Mountain has been home to some of the highest profile search and rescue calls in recent years — a Marine suffered serious injuries during a fall atop the mountain where a teen celebrating the end of summer had also recently fallen. 

Meanwhile in the Poudre Canyon, calls to Greyrock generally involve someone who misses the sharp turn to…