Ouray County, Colorado, a popular tourist destination, has dramatic mountains and amazing winter ice climbing challenging terrain, and high altitude can push visitors to their limits and beyond. Deaths from unforeseeable accidents, at altitude, can occur in bad weather or areas that make helicopter rescue impossible or extremely dangerous. For five decades the Ouray Mountain Rescue Team has helped those in trouble in this unique place. As journalist Roger Anderson wrote: "The San Juans, for all their seemingly benign majesty, can be as unforgiving as they are beautiful."
Many areas in Colorado and the United States have rescue teams, but Ouray's is unique. The Million Dollar Highway, infamous for sharp curves, narrow roadway and steep cliffs, cuts through the southern part of the county. Winter's numerous avalanches--especially the Riverside Slide--can strike cars without warning. In summer Mt. Sneffels is a popular climb. The south approaches are challenging, the north side highly technical. Rescues are often needed. Much of the county is Wilderness and lost hikers and adventurers often need help.
Imaginative, sensitive, compassionate people are drawn to serve on the Ouray Mountain Rescue Team. They often see one-of-a-kind problems that must be overcome. Radio communication may be nonexistent in these steep mountains and remote valleys. Rescuers often encounter terrified people caught in miserable, deadly circumstances. Working as a team creates solutions. There are no individual heroes--they are all heroes! This book explores some of their most remarkable, memorable rescues.