Mountain Rescue Aspen’s new facility will help grow its efforts to be there in Hurry for people in danger.
Things just got easier for people who get out of their element. Last fall, Mountain Rescue Aspen opened a brand new, 14,000-square-foot facility outside of town on Highway 82—a big move for an organization that has been around for 50 years, aiding adventures gone awry in Pitkin County since 1965 (though organized rescue has actually been recorded in the area back to the 1950s).
President and rescue team leader, Jeff Edelson, said that the new facility will allow for more efficient equipment storage, mission safety, effective field communication and all-important public education. During all the years prior, the old headquarters was on Main Street in Aspen—in a cramped 2,000 square feet space.
“It’s increased our operational readiness,” explained Edelson. “And has also allowed us to be safer because we can maintain and keep track of our equipment.”
The new building has a training and testing tower, large training room, command communication center, locker room and sleeping area for volunteers. A lobby museum is currently in the process of completion, which is designed to capture the immense history of Mountain Rescue Aspen.
The projections for a new facility began in 2011, after the organization was given a significant donation from Lynda Cameron. In November of 1977, Lynda and her family were in a plane crash in the Aspen backcountry. The private plane crash killed Lynda’s father, C.B. Cameron, for whom the new rescue center is named.
The pilot and five other passenger survived for two nights in the backcountry in winter conditions. The Mountain Rescue Aspen team was involved in their rescue, a mission for which the family has paid their utmost gratitude.
Edleson said their 50-person team is capable of going anywhere in the mountains, providing advanced life support and executing an effective rescue. The organization is an accredited FEMA Type 1 rescue team (the most advanced level), with doctors, paramedics, EMTs and skilled mountaineers who provide on-site support and effective rescues.
“We are an all-hazard team,” he said. “So essentially anything that happens in the mountains, in the backcountry, we have the ability to go out and provide that rescue and bring somebody back.”
What the new facility provides is not only increased space, Edleson shared, but also the ability to educate the public about personal preparation for adventures, and how to not get into life-threatening situations in the first place.
Mountain Rescue has an expectation for all individuals who choose to adventure up mountains and into the backcountry: people should be prepared for the unexpected, and have some extra water, food and layers, and be able to spend a night out in the elements.
“Mountain Rescue is an all-volunteer rescue team, providing backcountry rescue and mountain safety education,” Edleson said. “The one piece we were really lacking with the old facility was the education piece. We are now in the process of developing more public outreach, because we really want to start preventing our mountain rescue calls, instead of just being able to respond to them.” mountainrescueaspen.org