Rocky Mountain National Park Rangers Rescue Backcountry Skier Who Tumbled 900 Feet

Rangers prepare to load an injured backcountry skier onto an ambulance at the Bear Lake Trailhead in Rocky Mountain National Park. NPS photo.

A skier who survived a roughly 900-foot tumble in the backcountry of Rocky Mountain National Park was in a hospital Thursday after rangers spent a long afternoon rescuing him.

The 55-year-old Chicago man was skiing with two friends near the east face of Flattop Mountain on "The Drift" when he fell between noon and 1 p.m. Wednesday, according to park officials. A cellphone call alerted the park's dispatchers to the plight, and rangers were sent out to the site at roughly 10,600 feet to rescue the man.

The rangers, battling extreme cold, "high winds, and white-out conditions," reached the man around 3:00 p.m., a park release said. After stabilizing him, the rangers headed back down the slope and snowpacked trail with the man in a sled-type litter at 4:50 p.m.

They reached the Bear Lake trailhead about 6:30 p.m., where a waiting ambulance took the unidentified man to the Estes Park Medical Center. He then was flown to the Medical Center of the Rockies, according to park officials.

There was no immediate word on the extent of his injuries.