Hiker dies at National Park while climbing tallest mountain in 50mph winds

Landscape at Guadalupe Mountains National Park, USA
(Image credit: Getty)

A hiker died at Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas, while attempting to tackle the state's highest mountain. The person, who hasn't been identified, was found on New Year's Eve, and although fellow park visitors attempted CPR and alerted staff, the hiker sadly passed away.

The National Park Service (NPS) hasn't given a cause of death, but noted in a press release that a high wind warning was in effect on the day, with gusts of up to 50mph forecast and wind chills well below freezing presenting serious hazards for hikers.

"Guadalupe Mountains National Park staff are saddened by this loss," said park superintendent Eric Leonard, “and our entire park community extends sincere condolences to the hiker's family and friends."

Why is wind so dangerous?

The NPS describes the Guadalupe Peak Trail as "extremely strenuous", but hiking anywhere in strong winds can be dangerous. According to the National Safety Council, high winds were the second biggest cause of weather-related injuries in 2020 after tornadoes, and are a common reason for mountain rescue callouts.

Perhaps the most obvious risk of hiking in high winds is the increased chance of being knocked off your feet, particularly on high ground, but there's also a danger of being hit by flying debris, or suffering hypothermia as a result of the wind chill. Hiking in high wind is also more tiring, which might take people by surprise.

According to Mountaineering Scotland, wind can start to affect your gait at 30mph, walking becomes difficult at 40mph, and at 60mph it's downright dangerous to be out hiking.

"When hiking during high winds, you should always be prepared to turn around," advises the NPS. "You should prioritize your own safety above all else in windy conditions. Postpone your hike if the weather is bad." For more advice, see our guide to wind safety for hikers.

Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 15 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better), usually wearing at least two sports watches.