In the summer outdoor enthusiasts’ flock to the Colorado National Monument to take advantage of rock climbing and hiking, but not all are prepared and experienced. Thankfully Mesa County Search and Rescue has a technical rescue team.
When a climber gets stuck hundreds of feet up in the air, or a hiker gets stuck on the edge of a cliff; the 11 volunteers that make up the high angle technical rescue team drop everything.
Jose Iglesias is the team’s technical director and one of its founders.
Iglesias is one of only a handful of climbing guides in the US with the highest level of international certification. He says it takes five years to be a guide; one must master ice climbing, alpine climbing, rock climbing, canyoneering, and backcountry skiing.
Iglesias takes more than 20 years of experience climbing the nations and the world’s highest peaks; right here to Mesa County. He lead rescue missions using techniques he's crafted and mastered with professional mountaineers in the European Alps, the Himalayas, and the Andes, where he says 20 rescues a day is common.
The team is in the monument training for its next mission. Two team members climbed up the tower 30 feet away and almost five hundred feet up to set up a zip line they could use to get an injured climber over to the other side. Iglesias and his team have even made their own gear that is manufactured by well-known brands.
The team hopes they never have to come looking for you, but if you're in need of help they'll be there.
If you want to climb with the team, you can join them for the Independence Monument climb on July 4th for $125. The event is a fundraiser for the team.