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Injured climber rescued from fourteener in rare overnight operation

Published On: Jun 11 2014 06:02:13 PM CDT   Updated On: Jun 11 2014 06:04:08 PM CDT

San Miguel County Sheriff's Office

An unusual overnight rescue operation was launched in Delores County after a climber fell and broke his leg while tackling one of Colorado's fourteeners.

John Rohde, who is from the Denver area, fell more than 1,500 feet while climbing the 14,165 foot El Diente Peak.

A Search and Rescue team from San Miguel County was called to assist.

Rohde, 60, was climbing alone. He told rescuers he was trying to pull up on a large rock when the rock moved. He suffered a severely broken leg and some minor cuts on his face.

Rohde fell in rugged terrain, making it impossible for a medical helicopter to land and pick him up.

A backpack filled with survival gear was dropped from the helicopter, but Rohde was not able to get to it because of the darkness and his condition.

Search and Rescue personnel who were communicating with Rohde via cell phone said they were becoming increasingly concerned about his health and safety, especially with the threat of hypothermia as the temperature continued to drop.

A five person Search and Rescue team was flown to the foot of the mountain and hiked for an hour and a half. They reached Rohde just before 4 a.m.

The rescuers stabilized Rohde, gave him something warm to drink and set up camp. They said Rohde had already splinted his leg using his snow shoes.

The Olathe Spray Service Helicopter was called to perform a technical high-altitude rescue at daybreak.

Rohde was flown to a medical center in Telluride at around 6:30 a.m. From there he was taken to a hospital in Montrose.


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