CUSTER COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) — When a climber was injured on Crestone Needle in the Sangre de Cristo mountains, rescue technicians from the Colorado Hoist Rescue Team, and a Colorado National Guard helicopter from Buckley Air Force Base, came to the rescue. But officials say no one should ever count on that.

“The use of helicopters in search and rescue is dangerous, and Colorado’s high elevations and warm summertime temperatures only compounds the dangers for the aviators and rescue crews,” officials with Alpine Rescue Team wrote on Facebook.

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“Fortunately, favorable conditions enabled the flight crew and hoist operator to deliver the rescue tech on target,” officials wrote.

In this case, the target was a tiny path, next to a stunning drop off.

(credit: Alpine Rescue Team)

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“Thanks for coming,” the climber tells the rescuer after he is clipped in and both are about to be hoisted up the helicopter.

(credit: Alpine Rescue Team)

“Please know that while one rescuer rides the hoist, there is a team of more than 20 others… along with the Colorado Search and Rescue Association – CSAR, working together to make the rescue possible,” officials stated.

“The arrival of a helicopter in a search and rescue setting should never be considered an expectation. It is an exception,” officials wrote.
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Officials said Custer County Search and Rescue managed the operation, and had field teams ready to go if conditions did not allow hoists of the two climbers.

Just last week, a climber who summited the Crestone Needle was reported missing and found dead. Several teams with the Custer County Search and Rescue spent three days looking for Jeff Deardorff with an active aerial team before his body was recovered.

Anica Padilla