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Alpine Rescue volunteer out of commission after thief smashes truck window, steals climbing gear

Posted at 8:39 PM, Aug 29, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-29 22:39:00-04

DENVER -- A brazen thief smashed out a truck window and apparently helped himself to nearly everything inside. Because of that crime, Chris Silkwood, an Alpine Rescue Team volunteer, won't be able to continue his life-saving work until the equipment is replaced. He said that could take a couple of weeks.

"It's a little stressful trying to figure out what was taken," Silkwood said.

Late Wednesday morning, the tally included his:

  • backpack
  • team jackets
  • technical climbing gear
  • ropes
  • mountaineering boots
  • glasses
  • head lamps
  • climbing helmet
  • ice axe

Silkwood said he noticed the break-in early Wednesday as he walked out to his pickup truck, to take his daughter to school. He found one of the side windows shattered.

"I knew immediately that they had my gear," he said, "because I keep it in there 24 hours a day."

The rescue volunteer said he's been climbing mountains since he was in college, and has amassed a sizable set of special equipment.

"Last year, I climbed Denali," he said, adding that he used some of the equipment he originally obtained while in college. Equipment that is now gone.

"I know it's just things," he said, "but you kind of associate memories with some of the things you have. You look at the scratches on your climbing helmet and it brings back stories about the good times that you've had, and to have all that stuff just be taken..."

He said what's worse is that he can't help rescue people stranded in the high country without his gear.

"On a typical week, especially in summer, we can have four to five calls," he said, "sometimes multiple calls in a day. There are times you find yourself out all night, sometimes for multiple days, so being prepared is key."

Silkwood was part of the multi-agency team that rescued a teenager who fell down an abandoned mine shaft last December in the Golden area.

"I helped carry the subject down from the mine shaft to the road," he said.

Silkwood said he considers it a duty to "give back to the community and to provide some assistance." That assistance even extends to animals.

Tuesday night, he and his wife found a squirrel that had fallen out of a tree.

"We drove it up to an animal rescue in Brighton," he said, adding that they got back around midnight.

He said the break-in happened sometime between then and 6 a.m. The incident rattled his wife. She said their garage had been busted into before. Now she wonders if they should move.

"My dog was buried here. I don't want to move, but...we have a 9-year-old daughter," she said. "Its frustrating. It's deflating."

The couple is asking fellow residents to keep an eye for any of the missing gear.

They said they don't know if it will show up at any pawn shops, flea markets or even online.

Silkwood estimates that he lost $3,000 worth of gear. He said he'll have to order new equipment and hope it gets here soon.

He said he's not looking for help, but added, if anyone wants to help Alpine Rescue, they're welcome to do so at:

Alpine Rescue Team 
P.O. Box 934, Evergreen, Colorado

For 50 years, the Alpine Rescue Team has responded to wilderness emergencies, providing specialized mountain search and rescue, day and night, 24/7, and never charging for its services.

To meet its mission of saving lives through rescue and mountain-safety education, the team relies upon its dedicated volunteer members and the generous contributions of the local communities.