A hiker who was caught in a snowstorm on a Colorado mountain while wearing only a hoodie to protect their top half is lucky to be alive, after rescuers initially mistook them for an unusual rock formation.
The “rock” turned out to be the missing hiker sitting in a fetal position beneath the snow.
And they only found the unnamed hiker by following their footprints in the snow.
Chaffee County Search and Rescue (CCSAR) set out on the rescue mission after receiving an urgent distress call last week on 8 November.
“A hiker […] had bushwacked to summit a 13er earlier in the day,” said the CCSAR in a press release. A 13er is a mountain with a peak between 13,000 and 13,999ft. “When inclement weather moved in, the hiker found [themselves] unprepared; out of water, with no food, wearing only a cotton hoodie and no way to warm [themselves].”
The hiker became stranded on a peak near Cottonwood Lake, south west of Denver, at about 7pm.
The hiker called for mountain rescue but searchers could not find their GPS coordinates, rescuers said. The hiker could only tell them that they were trying to descend from the peak using an avalanche chute (a natural snow course created by avalanches).
“At approximately 12:42am the team descending into the gully from the ridge in approximately 6in to 8in of new snow located what appeared to be footprints,” revealed the CCSAR. “This team continued to follow the footprints until they came upon an unusual looking rock at approximately 2am. Upon further investigation it was determined it was not a rock but the subject sitting upright in a fetal position covered in snow.”
The hiker had severe hypothermia, but after warming them up, they took him down the mountain using ropes.
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