Broadmoor guests' afternoon hike turns into all-nighter 

Midnight mission

click to enlarge Search & Rescue was called to help lost Cloud Camp hikers. - EL PASO COUNTY SEARCH & RESCUE
  • El Paso County Search & Rescue
  • Search & Rescue was called to help lost Cloud Camp hikers.

What started out as a Saturday afternoon hike for six Broadmoor-owned Cloud Camp guests and their guide turned into a midnight rescue in Cheyenne Mountain State Park, including a Flight for Life helicopter used to spot the hikers from aloft.

They were obviously very thankful for the assistance,” El Paso County Search & Rescue Operations Director Patrick Kerscher tells the Independent, “and enjoyed the food and water we brought to them. We gave them extra clothing. They were all able to walk out.”

Kerscher says the call for help came in at 5:43 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 5, and three Search and Rescue teams, totaling 17 people, mobilized by 6:20 p.m. The hikers were located at 12:08 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 6, and the mission was completed by 6:47 a.m.

The hikers reportedly were guests at the exclusive Cloud Camp resort, a wilderness property that sits atop Cheyenne Mountain on a site once occupied by Broadmoor founder Spencer Penrose’s 1920s adobe lodge. All-inclusive packages start at $875 a night, according to The Broadmoor’s website.

“We were able to locate them via a cell phone signal when they called 911,” Kerscher says.

But the rescue crews encountered difficult terrain as night fell, making for a long mission.

“What made it difficult was there are not significant traveled trails in that area,” Kerscher says, noting that three rescue teams approached the hikers’ location from different approaches, including a so-called social trail that turned into a bushwhacking exercise.

“It was very lengthy, and it was lengthy due to the terrain and lack of trails,” he says. “It was crossing over dead trees, through ravines, and at night you have to go slow so you don’t break anything. They [hikers] had a cell phone with them, so we could talk to them and let them know we were coming. We are very lucky nobody got hurt.”

A Flight for Life helicopter came down from Denver to help pinpoint the hikers’ location, using night vision technology, but didn’t make a landing. If necessary, the helicopter, which assists under a cooperative agreement, would have picked up the searchers and dropped them elsewhere, but that maneuver wasn’t needed.

The Search and Rescue team that finally located the group traveled up a creek bed. The guide was found in another location after the hikers were located. The guide earlier had climbed to a lookout point in an attempt to determine their position. The guide, too, walked out without injury, Kerscher says.

All seven hikers are from Colorado, according to Kerscher and the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office. The incident report isn’t considered a public record and releasable, so the Indy was unable to interview any of the hikers.

When rescuers brought the hikers to the trail head, vehicles were waiting to drive them away, he says.

The 55-member El Paso County Search & Rescue operates under the auspices of the Sheriff’s Office and is an all-volunteer organization that relies exclusively on donations. To donate, go to epcsar.org. Kerscher says there was no charge for the rescue.

The Broadmoor didn’t return a phone call seeking comment about the incident.

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