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search and rescue teams guide stranded hiker off la plata mountain


The Chaffee County Communications Center was notified late Tuesday afternoon that a hiker on a difficult trail on La Plata Mountain was unable to proceed.  The hiker, Wei Lim, 27, of Grand Rapids, Michigan, had apparently exceeded his skill level on the climb.  His friend, Zach Miley, 25, resident of San Francisco, California, had accompanied the man on the hike.  Miley told the dispatcher that he had been unable to coax Lim into moving any farther down the trail.  Miley finally left his friend on the trail, descended to a point at which he had cell phone service, and called the communications center for help.

Search and rescue personnel were paged and established a mobile command post at the trailhead at about 10:30pm.  Due to the late hour and darkness, the difficulty of the terrain, and the relatively temperate weather conditions favoring the stranded hiker, rescuers delayed their ascent of the trail until 3:10am the next morning.  Three experienced climbers took to the trail at that time, followed at 5:30am by another team of five SAR volunteers.

Rescuers finally contacted Lim at about 7:30am and were able to guide and support him down a steep and exposed scree-filled gully to the valley floor.  All reached the trailhead at approximately noon (Wednesday).  None of the rescuers or Lim sustained any injuries.

In all, eleven SAR members participated in the mission, including three from SAR-South.