Wintry weather hinders backcountry communication


By Clayton Chaney
Staff Writer

Last week’s late-summer snowstorm may have caught some off guard, but it serves as a reminder of how important it is to properly prepare before embarking on a wilderness adventure. 

According to an email sent to The SUN from Archuleta County Sheriff’s Office (ACSO) Deputy Director of Emergency Ops Christina Kraetsch, “as a result of the winter storm that hit our region… we received multiple calls for service in the backcountry.” 

The late-summer cold front brought “a drop in temperature, decreased visibility, and a significant amount of snowfall covering the trail system,” according to Kraetsch. 

Kraetsch indicated that “majority of backcountry recreationalists had prepared themselves adequately to deal with the sudden change,” but still had issues. 

Although folks were prepared, the storm interrupted many two-way GPS communication devices, Kraetsch explained.

Not having communication while out on the trials can be a dangerous situation. As Kraetsch stated, “there is always inherent danger when recreating in vast and remote wilderness.” 

Kraetsch indicated that this is why it is very important to have a “robust trip plan.” 

Having a detailed itinerary and sharing it with someone else “exponentially increases the chances of success in situations like this,” according to Kraetsch. 

In regard to the emergency calls received by ACSO this past week,  Kraetsch stated that search and rescue teams were “able to contact everyone and connect them back to family and friends without incident.” 

If you are planning on adventuring into the wilderness, Kraetsch’s advice is to “call early, call often, and always let someone else know what your plans are.”