ALAMOSA COUNTY, Colo. (KRDO) — Authorities and as many as 40 volunteers from eight search and rescue teams spent a fifth straight day Wednesday searching for a female hiker who went missing in near the Sand Dunes.
Joy Cipoletti, 60, was reported overdue by her family after she hiked to the 14,000-ft. summit of Ellingwood Point near Zapata Falls and the South Zapata Lake trail.
Authorities said she texted her daughter around 3 p.m. Saturday to notify her that she had reached the summit.
“She’s an experienced hiker with no health issues and dressed appropriately,” said Alamosa County Undersheriff Shawn Woods. “But 3 p.m. is a bit late to be descending the summit. It gets dark sooner, and it’s easy to get lost then. She could have fallen and been hurt. She was wearing a GPS tracking device but it hasn’t led us to her. People have to realize this is a vast area we’re searching.”
Around 40 volunteers from 8 search and rescue teams are participating in the search.
Woods said the trail to the summit is particularly steep, rocky and rough.
Authorities have used aircraft to assist in the search but strong wings grounded those planes Wednesday.
Down here at the command post the winds are mild and it’s warmer,” Woods said. “But up there, it’s much windier and colder.”
Experts recommend that even the most experienced hikers avoid going alone.
“The biggest thing about being out in Colorado’s mountains is to tell someone your plan,” said Crystal Wilson, of Alamosa Search and Rescue. “If you’re hiking alone, a good tip is to leave a map on the front seat of your car, with your desired route. Say when you’re supposed to be back.”
Some experts say hikers should wear fluorescent clothing to make it easier for rescuers to find them.
Cipolleti is described as 5’3″, 140 pounds, and having curly brown and gray hair. She was last known to be wearing a light purple or green jacket and maybe a white hat.
Anyone who may have seen Cipoletti should contact the Colorado State Patrol at 719-589-5807 or Search and Rescue at 773-456-2927.
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