A hiker dressed only in a cotton hoodie survived a harrowing seven-hour ordeal in a severe snowstorm without provisions in the Colorado Rockies, officials reported. Attempting to summit a 13,000-foot ridge near Mount Princeton on Wednesday, the unidentified and “unprepared” hiker faced dangerous weather conditions, leading to severe hypothermia.
As darkness approached, the hiker, lacking warmth and facing hypothermia, opted to descend an avalanche chute instead of retracing their steps. Despite having a phone, authorities couldn’t obtain GPS information until 7 p.m. A 25-person rescue team, aware of the hiker’s location in an avalanche chute east of Cottonwood Lake, followed footprints in the snow and discovered the hiker at 2 a.m., covered in snow in a fetal position.
The rescue team spent three hours warming the hiker before descending a steep gully at 5 a.m., using ropes to lower the individual section by section. By 7 a.m., the hiker walked the remaining distance to an awaiting ambulance. Photos of the 12-hour rescue operation revealed the hiker wrapped in plastic for heat conservation while being transported on a sled down the mountain.
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The incident serves as a reminder of the risks in the Rocky Mountains, with a list of “10 Essentials” shared by the Chaffee County Search and Rescue North team on Facebook. The list, compiled by the National Park Service, emphasizes the importance of navigational tools, first aid, and provisions to endure emergencies, sudden weather changes, or unexpected delays. The team stressed the necessity of these essentials for survival even when not planning to face inclement weather.