CHAFFEE COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) — A hiker was rescued during a snowstorm in Chaffee County after getting stuck in a snowstorm without a jacket.
According to Chaffee County Search and Rescue-North, the hiker had bushwacked to summit a 13er on Nov. 8, but by 7 p.m. found themselves in distress.
The hiker had run out of food and water and was wearing only a cotton hoodie with no way to warm up.
CCSAR-N said the hiker decided to descend down an avalanche chute rather than follow the route used to ascend because it was getting dark.
While the hiker was able to call for a rescue from their phone, a GPS signal was not available. The hiker was able to share an approximate location of the chute used to descend.
More than 30 members of the north and south Chaffee County Search and Rescue teams were involved in the search, 25 of whom were in the field to search during the snowstorm that had moved in.
Several avalanche chutes were searched and at 12:42 a.m. rescuers found footprints in the fresh snow that now measured more than six inches deep.
The rescue team followed the footprints for more than an hour, and around 2 a.m. they discovered what was described as “an unusual looking rock.” That rock ended up being the hiker, who was sitting upright in the fetal position and covered with snow.
The hiker was alive, but very hypothermic according to rescuers. It took three hours to warm the hiker up enough to begin the extraction process, which included the use of ropes to lower the hiker one section of the gully at a time.
An hour later, the hiker was able to walk, and by 7 a.m., reached an ambulance for evaluation.
CCSAR is using this rescue as a reminder for hikers to be prepared for all conditions with the 10 essentials and a communication device that includes GPS that can be transmitted.