Colorado Guides Receive National Bravery Award For Saving Climber's Life On Denali

Colorado Guides Receive National Bravery Award For Saving Climber's Life On Denali

Climbing

Colorado Guides Receive National Bravery Award For Saving Climber's Life On Denali

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I’ve got a fantastic story to share with all of you today. It’s a feel-good, warm-and-fuzzy-heart-warmer that brightened up my day. I hope it does the same for you.

Multiple members of Mountain Trip, a climbing guide service based in Telluride, CO, were recently honored by the US Department of the Interior (DOI) for their heroics in saving a life on Denali, AK back in 2017.

The guides were awarded the Citizen’s Award for Bravery at the Department of the Interior’s 76th Honor Awards Convocation Ceremony in Washington, DC on Thursday, September 8th, 2022.

Keep reading for the details of their bravery:

Mountain Trip guides, Allen, Welter and Laine were leading a team of climbers up the West Buttress of Denali, North America’s highest peak, on Monday, June 5, 2017.

The team was sleeping in their tents at Camp 1 (7800ft) on the Kahiltna Glacier after midnight when they heard someone outside asking for help. An international climber who didn’t speak much English reported that his partner had fallen into a crevasse without a rope and vanished.

The guides quickly packed their gear, roped up and went down the glacier to look for the fallen climber. When they reached the edge of the crevasse, they saw a hole in a snowbridge over a crevasse where someone had punched through and heard some barely audible groans coming from deep in the crevasse below, but couldn’t see the victim down in the crevasse.

They set up an anchor and Allen rappelled down the extremely narrow crevasse, which could only accommodate one person at a time, while Welter and Laine set up a rescue hauling system on the surface of the glacier. Martin Takac of Slovakia was found badly injured and wedged tightly in the narrow blue ice walls about 40 feet (12.2 meters) down.

Allen was able to clip Takac into a rope to prevent him from slipping any further into the crevasse which was just the beginning of a challenging rescue involving several guides and the National Park Service (NPS) Ranger crew.

The team took turns descending into the crevasse in an effort to free Takac, counting on the rescuers on the surface of the glacier to bring them back up from the cold cramped workspace.

A NPS ranger rescue team had to be flown in by helicopter and eventually, armed with power tools, they were able to free Takac from the ice. It took crews 14 hours to free Takac, who was then flown to a hospital in critical condition with suspected trauma injuries and hypothermia.”

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Pretty incredible stuff, right? The fact that they left the safety of their camp in the middle of the night, and risked their lives to save another’s is downright badass. There’s no other way to describe it.

Kudos to Allen, Welter, and Laine and the entirety of the Mountain Trip team. They seem like a group of excellent people.

Here’s a little bit more about the Mountain Trip guides that were honored, and about the company itself:

“Denali is a multi-week expedition that requires complex glacier travel, route finding and crevasse rescue skills in arctic, high-altitude conditions.

Safety and survival necessitate all team members have previous expedition experience. As one of the original permitted concessionaires on Denali, Mountain Trip has helped more climbers reach the summit of Denali than any other expedition leader.

Mountain Trip’s lead guides are required to have several years of experience on Denali, professional guide training through the American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA), and current medical certifications.

  • Mountain Trip co-owner, Bill Allen has successfully climbed all of the Seven Summits (Everest, Aconcagua, Denali, Kilimanjaro, Elbrus, Vinson, and Carstensz Pyramid) multiple times, stood on top of Mount Everest 3 times and has guided over 30 expeditions on Denali.
  • Mountain Trip guide, Karl Welter started outdoor guiding with backpacking expeditions for teenagers in the Brooks Range of Alaska in 2007. He lives in Telluride, Colorado, where he works with the Telluride Ski Patrol and Snow Safety Team, as well as an active volunteer with the local SAR team and devoted paraglider pilot. Karl first climbed Denali in 2015 and has led 8 expeditions for Mountain Trip.
  • Guide Erin Laine grew up in the high peaks and windy planes of Southwest Colorado. Following her passion for a life of mountain guiding, mountain rescue and mountain safety education, she lives in Silverton, the heart of Colorado’s San Juan mountains.

About Mountain Trip
Based out of Telluride, Mountain Trip is the only guide service in Colorado that can take you from the San Juan Mountains to the Seven Summits.

Since 1973, Mountain Trip has built a reputation as a world-class guide service by leading more Denali expeditions than any other company, climbing Mount Everest and the “Seven Summits”, and providing homegrown adventures and courses in Colorado’s iconic San Juan Mountains.

Mountain Trip is the only Colorado guide service accredited by the AMGA permitted to offer trips on both the Ouray Via Ferrata and Telluride Via Ferrata. Learn more at mountaintrip.com.

All Photos Courtesy: Mountain Trip

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