Footprints lead to stranded hiker buried in snow on Colorado mountain, rescuers say

Chaffee County Search and Rescue

Rescuers seeking a hiker stranded by a snowstorm on a Colorado mountain followed footprints to an “unusual looking rock,” searchers reported.

The “rock” turned out to be the missing hiker sitting in a fetal position beneath the snow, the Chaffee County Search and Rescue team said in a Saturday, Nov. 11, news release.

Rescuers found the hiker had severe hypothermia, the release said. After warming up the hiker, they began descending from the mountain using ropes.

The hiker, wearing a cotton hoodie, became stranded without water or food by a severe snowstorm on a peak near Cottonwood Lake at about 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 8.

The hiker called for rescue but searchers could not find their GPS coordinates, rescuers said. The hiker could only say they were trying to descend from the peak in an avalanche chute.

Rescuers spent hours searching avalanche chutes until they found the hiker at 2 a.m. Nov. 9, officials said.

The hiker was eventually able to walk out with rescuers at 7 a.m., the release said.

Cottonwood Lake is about 130 miles southwest of Denver.

How to be prepared while hiking

If you’re planning to hike, the National Park Service says there are 10 essentials you should take:

  • Navigation: Pack a map, compass and a GPS system. Make sure you study your route beforehand and understand how to use the tools.

  • Sun protection: Sunglasses, sunscreen and a hat can help protect your skin and eyes from UV rays.

  • Insulation: A jacket, hat, gloves, raincoat and thermal underwear can help you be prepared for rapidly changing weather conditions.

  • Illumination: A flashlight, lantern and headlamp can create light if you get stuck in the dark — and don’t forget to pack extra batteries.

  • First-aid supplies: It’s a good idea to have a first-aid kit on hand while hiking. Check the expiration date on items before you pack them.

  • Fire: Matches and a lighter can help start fire to act as an emergency signal in times of need.

  • Repair kit and tools: Duct tape, a knife, screwdriver and scissors can be helpful if items break during your hike or you need assistance.

  • Nutrition: You should pack an extra day’s worth of food in case something goes wrong. Park officials recommend having “salty and easy to digest snacks.”

  • Hydration: You should drink water often and before you feel thirsty if you’re hiking in hot weather. Keeping your body hydrated is “of utmost importance,” park officials said.

  • Emergency shelter: Packing a tent, space blanket, tarp and bivy can help you be prepared if severe weather breaks out or your plan takes a turn.

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