On Sunday, February 9, 2020 three members of Taos Search and Rescue joined teams from across northern and central New Mexico for a mission in the Pecos Wilderness above Santa Fe.
Three backcountry skiers contacted law enforcement from the Pecos Wilderness east of the Santa Fe Ski Basin Sunday evening. They reported that they had skinned up Raven’s Ridge to Deception Peak, followed the Knife Edge to Lake Peak and intended to ski down Heaven’s Hill but took the wrong chute. The party came across a jumble of rocks and one of the skiers lost both his skis and was only able to recover one of them.
The group began to make their way up a trail heading to Puerto Nambe but became exhausted, stopped, built a fire and called for help.
The search and rescue mission was activated at around 18:30 with Ski Santa Fe as incident base and Al Webster as incident commander.
Three teams were assembled consisting of members of Atalaya Search and Rescue, Cibola Search and Rescue, the Los Alamos Auxiliary Fire Brigade, Santa Fe Search and Rescue Group, Albuquerque Mountain Rescue Council and Taos Search and Rescue.
The teams hit the trail in waves as more help arrived on skis and snowshoes. The first team made contact with the subjects after about three hours on the trail. All three of the subjects were uninjured and showed no signs of hypothermia, but were tired.
One member of Atalaya SAR manually adjusted the bindings on their skis and gave them to the skier who had lost a ski. The team was carrying extra snowshoes and all team members and subjects were able to make the slow hike back out to Ski Santa Fe, arriving around sunrise.
Webster reported that the successful mission went well in part because the subjects were able to report accurate coordinates for their location.
“We knew right where they were,” he said.
Temperatures were well below freezing in the Pecos with some snowfall and wind, but all parties emerged from the woods healthy, happy and perhaps a bit hungry.
Thanks to everyone involved for staying up late on a Sunday night to ensure a successful outcome!