Maine hikers rescued from Rocky Mountain ice storm thought they ‘wouldn’t survive long’

Posted Sept. 18, 2013, at 5:25 a.m.
Last modified Sept. 18, 2013, at 6:35 a.m.

Two mountaineers from York, Maine, say they “are truly fortunate to be safe” after they were stranded by an ice storm for two days on one of Colorado’s highest peaks.

Backpackers Connie Yang, 32, a 1999 Parkway graduate who grew up in Chesterfield, Mo., and Suzanne Turell, 33, originally from Maryland, released a detailed, four-page account Tuesday of their ordeal on Longs Peak when they found themselves trapped by an ice storm toward the summit of Longs Peak in the Rocky Mountains.

The women are co-workers for Nemo Equipment Inc., based in New Hampshire, who set out last week on a weeklong hike that circles Rocky Mountain National Park. The women were testing gear for their company, according to Yang’s father, who lives in Brentwood, Mo.

Yang and Turell said they took appropriate gear based on the weather forecast and historical weather conditions but were caught off-guard by unexpected severe ice and rain storms that have caused massive flooding in Colorado and killed several people.

“We had no idea whether the highly unusual weather would continue or even worsen,” they wrote. “Though we were prepared to wait out the storm, we also realized we were one bad event away from complete disaster.”

Before their phone battery died, the women used text messages to inform Yang’s sister in New York City of their situation. Yang and Turell said they hunkered down in their tent and tried to stay warm. Relatives responded by launching a Tumblr website that included a string text messages asking for help.

Meanwhile, Yang and Turell were trying to get through the storm.

“We felt that in the present conditions, we wouldn’t survive long,” they wrote.

They said they caught a lucky break Thursday as some of the ice melted, and they decided to try hiking down the mountain in hopes of reaching a ranger station for help.

After several hours of treacherous hiking, rangers from the station met them with all-terrain vehicles and helped them get out of the park.

They said they are “overwhelmed with gratitude” for their family, friends, coworkers, rescuers and fellow adventurers, hope their story serves as a reminder to others.

“Our story is not unique,” they continued. “Choosing to adventure in the mountains brings risks, no matter how hard you try to keep them under control. … We hope that what we faced will not discourage others from heading to the mountains, but remind everyone of the importance of planning carefully, bringing the right equipment and making careful choices.”

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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