Tuesday, February 24, 2009

It could cost $500 for a 911 call to be taken down from Pikes Peak

The trail up Colorado's Pikes Peak is a tough 12.6-mile climb, rising up 7,500 feet. Some people make it to the top but call 911 for a ride down.

Pikes Peak Highway officials want the Colorado Springs City Council to approve a $500 per-person charge to bring down the increasing number of people who call 911 from the summit and aren't injured, but just don't want to hike down the 14,115-foot peak.

"Some of the people just say, ‘I want to get to the top of this mountain,' and they don't realize they have to get back down," highway manager Jack Glavan said. The U.S. Forest Service owns the land, but the city runs the toll road.

The $500 fee reflects the cost for employees who have already gone home to come back and drive the 19 miles up the mountain, fighting fierce night-time winds and sometimes snow. If they have to plow or call in more people, the fee could be higher.

Under the proposed fee schedule, hikers who call for a ride before workers have gone home would pay $100 each, and hikers who ask for transport from one location to another during regular hours will be charged $20 each.

Glavan said highway rangers and employees aren't trying to become taxis, but they need a fee schedule to get reimbursed from the increasing number of hikers who apparently get summit fever and find themselves high and dry, which happened to five people last year.
Glavan said the council's action would formalize the fees and encourage hikers to plan better. Glavan said. the city will put signs at the base of Barr Trail and at Barr Camp, about halfway up the trail, warning hikers the summit may be deserted after a certain time of day and that a $500 fee will be charged if they call to be rescued. (info from the Colorado Springs Gazette.)

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