Hunter rescued Friday night in Falls Creek area

Saturday, March 10, 2018 5:53 PM

A 46-year-old man was rescued Friday night in the Falls Creek area north of Durango.

Ron Corkish with La Plata County Search and Rescue said they received a call about a stranded hunter shortly before 6 p.m. He said 26 rescuers responded, including five from Durango Fire Protection District.

Corkish said the man, whose identity he declined to release, was hunting mountain lions with a friend when he overexerted himself.

“He had a recurring medical condition, and our theory is because of the time he spent out and hiking, he had a medical episode,” he said.

The men were on a cliff band west of Falls Creek Main behind the Falls Creek fire station.

Corkish said the challenge of the high-angle rescue was exacerbated by the darkness.

“It was a steep approach and it was dark, so we were afraid of not being able to see rock fall from above,” he said. “The elevation gain was another 400 to 500 feet up, and about 150 feet of that was vertical.”

The men built a fire to keep warm as they waited for rescuers, Corkish said.

“Like any good friend, he wouldn’t leave his buddy behind,” he said.

A team at the base of the cliff cleared a path to the road. A second team scaled the cliff band with medics to treat the man and establish anchor points for the rescue.

“They packaged the patient, set up the anchor points for vertical lowering, and the team at the bottom received the patient as he was lowered,” Corkish said.

Rescuers were able to retrieve the man and transport him to Mercy Regional Medical Center at about 11 p.m., Corkish said.

The man was doing well Saturday morning, according to his friend, Corkish said.