Deffenbaugh injured his left leg in a fall that was stopped after maybe one-hundred feet by a snow-covered "pile of decomposed rock and dirt."
He was lucky, said Berg. "Most of the time," when climbers fall from where Deffenbaugh's fall began, "they achieve such a velocity that they can't be stopped.
"We've been up there many, many times," he added, in a somber tone, to retrieve the bodies of climbers unable to "stop tumbling down a thousand feet or more."
Westminster resident Deffenbaugh and his 18-year-old son, Jonathan, used their cell phone to call 911 Friday, June 16, at approximately 12:15 p.m.
Rescuers encountered their first stumbling block when requests to both the National Guard and the military for helicopters drew the response that "there were no ships available" on either Friday or Saturday, "I guess because of wildfires," said Berg.
Berg said he was not surprised when, on his initial tour of the accident site via fixed-wing aircraft, there was no viable landing site close to the accident scene, so that the rescue, by necessity, would be staged from below.
By 3 p.m., helicopters from Olathe and Durango had been obtained, and by late afternoon the team of 12 rescuers sheriff's deputies Brian Beckham, Todd Rector and Norman Squier and SAR volunteers Keith Herrmann, Kim Havell, Tor Anderson, Mark Neyens, Leah Hall, Brooke Mallette, Josh Rappaport, Tim Hendricks and Mark King was ferried, two at a time, to a staging area 2,000-3,000 feet below where the victim lay to begin a technical ascent, without ropes, in an area where a fall would almost certainly be fatal.
Because the situation was so delicate, Berg enlisted Sheriff Bill Masters as co-commander for the rescue. "I wanted Bill to come up and apply critical thinking to my decision-making," Berg explained, "because one mistake up there kills not only the victim but the rescuers, too."
As rescuers drew near, however, rising temperatures and "horrific" winds not to mention the fact that "when you stepped off the skid, there was nothing to step onto on the ridge below" mandated a nighttime rescue, when a ten-to-fifteen degree temperature drop, from midday temperatures of 35 degrees, would make "loose rock and ice melt" problems more manageable.
Through the night, rescuers picked their way down to the staging area, over three cliff bands, "lowering the patient down on ropes," and finally loading him into a Bell 47 Soloy helicopter, piloted by Devin Felix, of Olathe Spray Service for a Saturday morning takeoff, just before 8 a.m. The rescue's total price tag will hover "somewhere between nine and twelve-thousand dollars," a cost that is passed on to Dolores County, whose Sheriff Jerry Martin requested San Miguel County's SAR. (Bob Bowker, of Durango New Air Helicopters, was the second pilot.)
Berg said the two climbers, who "had some food and clothing, but did not have raingear or sleeping bags, etcetera, may have survived the night, but they would have been very uncomfortable."