A Colorado hiker who got lost while exploring a 14-foot mountain survived by building what local officials called a "makeshift snow cave."
Lake County Search and Rescue (LCSAR) got a call about a "cold and exhausted" male hiker at the intersection of Continental Divide Trail and North Mount Elbert Trail around 1 a.m. on Tuesday, February 6, according to a Facebook post. The hiker told officials he created a snow cave for shelter since he couldn't continue on the trail.
LCSAR said the man started hiking around 7 a.m. on February 5 from the South Elbert Trailhead, summiting later that afternoon. The hiker lost his way on the hike back and had to shift through four feet of snow on the wrong trailhead. The man decided to take shelter around midnight and called for help, the news release states.
Due to the mid-winter snowpack, rescue crews had to take alternative routes to reach the hiker, including a three-mile ride via snowmobile to reach North Elbert Trailhead and a "steep climb up narrow switchbacks" amid avalanche conditions.
A two-man team reached the victim around 4:30 a.m. and started warming him up. Since he couldn't leave on foot, LCSAR called in assistance from the Chaffee County Search and Rescue North. Members from both rescue teams rendezvoused with the two-man team with the hiker, who was transported via a Sked stretcher down the "difficult" terrain onto a snowmobile.
LCSAR hinted at the importance of having proper equipment and checking on weather conditions before hiking on a trail during the wintertime.
"Lack of proper equipment (snowshoes, gaiters, appropriate footwear) and non familiarity with conditions is a constant theme of our winter rescues," officials remarked.