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Colo. rescuers find missing hiker seeking refuge in avalanche chute

Rescuers in Chaffee County were sent to rescue an ill-prepared hiker trapped by a snowstorm


Chaffee County Search and Rescue North/Facebook

By Cliff Pinckard

CHAFFEE COUNTY, Colorado — Rescuers searching for a missing hiker managed to spot footprints in deep snow, eventually leading them to an “unusual rock” that turned out to be the hiker huddled in a fetal position.

The hiker, whose name and age were not released, was “very hypothermic” but alive when found by rescuers with the Chaffee County Search and Rescue North team. Rescuers spent about three hours warming the hiker at that location before beginning a “long, steep, arduous extraction.”

A news release from the rescue team says it was notified of the missing hiker at about 7 p.m. on Nov. 8 . The hiker had climbed a 13,000-foot mountain but then was caught without water, food and wearing only a cotton hooded sweat shirt as poor weather moved in.

The hiker decided to head down an “avalanche chute” in hopes of reaching a road more quickly, the news release says. Although the hiker had a phone, it did not provide a GPS location. The hiker told rescuers that they were in an avalanche chute east of Cottonwood Lake .

Rescuers told the hiker to keep moving down the chute as about 25 members of rescue team began their search during the snowstorm. Rescuers searched several avalanche chutes but were unable to locate the hiker.

A team spotted footprints in 6 to 8 inches of new snow at about 12:42 a.m. They were following the prints when they spotted an “unusual-looking rock” at about 2 a.m. The rock turned out to be the hiker, who was covered in snow, sitting upright in a fetal position.

At 5 a.m. , rescuers began lowering the hiker down using ropes. At about 6:15 a.m. , the hiker told rescuers they were able to walk down and reached an ambulance by 7 a.m.

No information has been reported on the hiker’s condition.

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