Injured man spends entire night crawling through backcountry to reach mountain rescue

hiking whistles: mountain rescue
The man had broken his ankle and his cell phone was several miles away (Image credit: Getty)

In an incident eerily similar to climber Joe Simpson's experience documented in the film and book Touching the Void, a hiker recently broke his ankle and spent an entire night crawling through the backcountry for help.

A weekly report from Colorado's Summit County Sheriff's Office detailing incidents between June 10th and 16th states that the man was in the backcountry north of Silverthorne when he fell approximately 30 feet down a snow slope.

Unfortunately, he wasn't carrying his cell phone or a satellite communicator with him at the time, which meant he was unable to alert mountain rescue.

"His camp was several miles away but he managed to crawl back, taking him all night, where he was finally able to get cell phone service and call for help," states the report.

Due to the man's location and injury, crews were dropped off by helicopter to assist and stabilize the man before transporting him to a nearby hospital for treatment.  

Camper holding Garmin InReach Mini device

A more reliable option is a satellite communicator such as the Garmin InReach (Image credit: Garmin)

Satellite communicators in the backcountry

Though we don't recommend relying solely on your cellphone for emergencies in the backcountry, this story is a good reminder that it's worth keeping your phone somewhere you can reach it, such as the chest pocket of your jacket.

If you use an iPhone, the device's SOS feature allows your to signal for help even when you're out of service. A more reliable option is a satellite communicator such as the Garmin InReach, which relies on GPS technology and holds a charge far longer than a cell phone.

Julia Clarke

Julia Clarke is a staff writer for and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.