Vote for the best search and rescue, raise funds for SAR teams


Last year, radio brand Rocky Talkie identified four outstanding search and rescue operations from among 40 applicants. Now he’s recruiting help to decide how he distributes $25,000 in rewards.

Anyone involved in mountain sports knows that search and rescue (SAR) teams put up with a lot – and risk a lot to do so. This year, Rocky Talkie will recognize a few teams that have pushed the boundaries the most to save lives.

In partnership with the American Alpine Club (AAC), Rocky Talkie will distribute $25,000 to the four finalist teams for the Search and Rescue Awards 2021. Each team earned their finalist status based on a rescue in 2021 that demonstrated “incredible skill, passion and dedication”.

The communications brand says it needs your help determining which team will win what. Each rescue story resonates with mountain sense, courage and emotion. Read each on the Rocky Talkie website, then vote by May 3, 2022.

Bonus: Your vote automatically enters you into a draw to win free radios and an AAC subscription.

AAC Member Benefits include emergency relief and healthcare coverage, branded partner offers, and discounted stays at various locations across the AAC network.

Award-winning rescues

On July 30, 2021, Ouray Mountain Rescue volunteers endured landslides, lightning and 2 inches of hail to rescue a hiker who had fallen 40 feet near the summit of Mount Sneffels (14,157 feet). The hiker had skidded on a glass-covered slab, hurrying down before the storm that rescuers eventually faced.

By the time they reached the invalid patient, the temperature had reached -20 degrees F, and he was hypothermic. A serious head injury complicated matters and made him combative when he regained his alertness.

On October 20, 2021, Joe Walton fell 200 feet from the 2,000-foot Red Rocks classic “Epinephrine” outside of Las Vegas. Simultaneously climbing over easy terrain near the top of the formation, Walton had slipped on a slab and ripped every piece of equipment between him and his partner somewhere above 1,200 feet.

The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police SAR team arrived at the wall after dark by helicopter and found the climbers there with a searchlight. Their rope had snagged on “a little knob of rock” on the steep cliff and, surprisingly caught them coming down. They’d be on a ledge 1,000 feet down if they weren’t. A complex and technical operation ensues.

On January 28, 2021, the Tahoe Nordic SAR team searched for a lost snowboarder among the most dangerous avalanche conditions the region had never seen. Ten feet of snow for 3 days before the rescue had loaded virtually every chute in the area to breaking point.

The snowboarder, an off-duty California Highway Patrol officer, had taken a wrong turn at the Sugar Bowl Resort and landed in deep, remote powder near closing time. When the SAR team arrived, the ski patrollers doubted they could find a safe route to where the snowboarder was.

He was stuck only a mile from where they were. But the only safe route required more than 5 miles of snowcat and ski travel in dangerously deep powder.

On July 19, 2021, a mountain climber in Poudre Canyon, Colorado, fell 30 feet and fractured his spine. Larimer County RAD found him after dark. The climber was responsive but immobilized on a narrow ledge surrounded by complex terrain: featureless vertical walls and broken gullies filled with loose rock.

Paramedics tied the climber, whose broken spine had pierced the skin in some places, to a litter. SAR negotiated the delicate and dangerous job of climbing and rappelling the prohibitive cliff without throwing rocks at the rescue site, rescuers or patient. The job took all night and about 50 rescuers.

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