Consider . . . You hurt your leg on the Ute trail and can’t get down on your own. You are only twenty minutes from the road, but no ambulance can reach you . . . OR . . . a small plane crash lands trying to get over Independence Pass – there are dead and badly hurt people aboard . . . OR . . . your friends are caught in an avalanche riding a back country bowl . . . OR . . . your loved one is 6 hours overdue coming home from a one day climb of North Maroon. .
These are only a few real examples. The fact is that, when (not if) someone is lost, sick, hurt or killed in the back country of Pitkin County, there is only one agency tasked to deal with the situation: Mountain Rescue – Aspen (MRA).
Pitkin County is about a third the size of Rhode Island, and more than 80% of it is “back country”, i.e. not accessible by road. Our Sheriff counts on MRA year round, every hour of every day:
Visitors and residents of Pitkin County, Colorado are the beneficiaries of a volunteer search and rescue team, Mountain Rescue-Aspen that is trained and accredited to the highest industry standards. . . In extreme environments and in technical situations these volunteers have given generously and timelessly to those of us whom find a need for aid and rescue. – Bob Braudis, Pitkin County Sheriff – July 19, 2004
We also provide the community with its only annual low-cost avalanche safety training. Our Winter/Summer Safe Back-Country Use booklets are consumed by the hundreds every year. We teach the “Hug-a-Tree” program in the schools showing kids how to stay safe if lost. Every year we provide volunteers to assist in logistical and medical support i local races and other events.
In all, fifty volunteers spend thousands of hours away from work and family to train, teach, help, prepare, administer and, of course, perform search and rescue. NONE of us are paid, and most of our personal gear we pay for ourselves.
Yet accomplishing our dual missions of rescue readiness and community education requires money. In addition to our day to day operational costs, we have to maintain and replace vehicles and equipment, produce education materials, and train our team members.
Every other rescue and response agency in the county (fire, police, EMS), including the volunteer departments, obtain funding from taxes and public budgets. But MRA has no “mil levy”. We must solicit direct donations and apply for grants every year for the funds we need.
Thus we are asking for your help again. Thirty dollars can replace a rescue carabiner, $200 can replace a rescue rope, $1200 can replace a rescue litter, or send a team member for professional certification in rope rescue technique. All are helpful and necessary. Please join our “light-a-light” campaign by giving whatever you can to help keep MRA rescue-ready. Your donation is tax deductible.
Mountain Rescue Aspen