Denver newspaper editor rescued from Flat Tops | SteamboatToday.com

Back to: News

Denver newspaper editor rescued from Flat Tops

— Holger Jensen would have preferred to eat trout.

But after breaking his ankle Saturday in the wilderness south of Steamboat Springs, he had to settle for two packages of Ramen noodles and coffee.

Jensen was rescues at about 10:00 a.m. Tuesday morning by Routt County Search and Rescue personnel near Surprise Lake.

He was taken to Routt Memorial Hospital, where he is awaiting transfer to Swedish Medical Center in Englewood. He is in fair condition with a severely broken ankle and dislocated left ankle.

He spent 2-½ days in the Flat Tops wilderness west of Yampa before being rescued. The area is about 40 miles south of Steamboat Springs.

Jensen, 51, of Golden, is the international editor of the Rocky Mountain News. He was reported missing after failing to show up for work Monday morning.

He was hiking alone when he injured himself. Jensen had planned to spend the weekend fishing in the area near Surprise Lake, approximately 1-½ miles southeast of Trappers Lake.

He had already set up camp near the lake when the injury occurred.

"I was climbing down into a creek bottom to get some water and I slid in mud and rocks. I heard the ankle go, like a tree branch breaking" he said.

"I crawled back to camp. The first day was the worst."

However, after his anle swelled up, it didn't move around as freely. That helped to ease the pain, he said.

Jensen spent two days and three nights at his camp before being rescued.

"I crawled to the lake once a day to get water," he said. "I cut up my Rocky Mountain News T-shirt to make knee pads."

He estimated the distance from his camp to the lake at about 50 yards. "It was a long crawl. It took two hours on (on Tuesday)," he said.

Because he had planned to eat the trout he expected to catch, Jensen had only brought packages of Ramen noodles with him.

"I had two packages (after the accident), and they ran out on Sunday," he said.

He survived on coffee and water until being discovered Tuesday.

" I thought I might have to spend the week" he said.

Jensen was skeptical that he would be found quickly after seeing only one person on Sunday.

" My biggest fear was that people didn't know where I was going", he said. " But I figured after I missed a day of work, they'd be looking for me."

Jensen's pickup truck was spotted by U.S. Forest Service personnel at about 5 p.m. Monday, Routt County Sheriff John Warner said.

Although Jensen was presumed to be in Garfield County, Routt County teams responded because of their proximity to the search area, Warner said.

Approximately 20 Routt County Search and Rescue volunteers began looking for Jensen at 6 a.m. Tuesday.

A search and rescue team reached Jensen's pickup at about 9:00 a.m. Approximately an hour later, after a ground and air search, one of the ground teams reached Jensen, Warner said.

Although Jensen said he was an experienced woodsman, he will do things a little different next time.

"I'll be a little more specific about where I am going", he said.

But as a Vietnam veteran and a former war correspondent who worked in Ethiopia during its civil war, Jensen was able to put this experience in perspective.

"How can you compare breaking an ankle to awaiting execution in an Ethiopian jail?, he asked.