Independence Pass

An Aspen Fire Department rescue vehicle heading back to Aspen passes a line of backed-up vehicles in the eastbound lane of Highway 82 and Independence Pass following a rescue operation near the Grottos on Monday afternoon.

Mountain Rescue Aspen, the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office and other local emergency agencies had their hands full on Independence Pass on Monday, dealing with two separate incidents.

A sheriff’s office news release states that at 1:51 p.m., authorities received a call of an injured person in the area of the Grottos, a popular river jump-off spot and swimming area off Highway 82 east of Aspen. It was reported that a hiker had taken a fall down a rocky face and was in immediate need of medical assistance, the release says.

MRA and sheriff’s office personnel were immediately deployed to the area. The Aspen Fire Department and Aspen Ambulance also responded.

The injured hiker was found just upvalley from the Grottos day-use area, at the top of the cascading falls.  The hiker had fallen down a rock face and was in need of immediate extrication and medical assistance, according to the release. The injury was said to be minor.

The agencies worked together to perform a technical rescue. The injured person was taken to a waiting ambulance for further evaluation and care. Highway 82 was briefly closed during the operation, the release adds.

Earlier, at 12:27 p.m., the sheriff’s office received a call of an injured climber in the area of Lower Lost Man/Turkey Rock, which is farther up the pass from the Grottos.

A third-hand report relayed that a climber had taken a serious fall and was “stuck” in a boulder field, a separate news release says. It was further reported that responding rescuers would need technical climbing skills and equipment to reach the victim and render aid.

MRA and sheriff’s office personnel immediately deployed to the area, but were unable to locate any climbers in distress, the release says.

The person who was asked to call 911 ultimately came back to the area, and identified the distressed climbers who flagged him down.

“The climber in question admitted to falling, but said he was not in distress. He claimed to have 0/0 pain level, and was not in need of any assistance at all. The climber’s companion admitted to blowing the matter out of proportion when he flagged down the passerby and asked him to call 911 for a rescue,” the release adds.