Hiker Trapped: Mauna Loa Volcano Adventurer Slept in Snow for 2 Nights

Friday, 31 Jan 2014 03:35 PM

By Morgan Chilson

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A hiker was trapped on Hawaii's Mauna Loa volcano for two nights after white-out snowstorm conditions.

Alex Sverdlov, 36, of New York trekked to the top of Mauna Loa, arriving near the peak Tuesday. He had dropped his gear off at a lower elevation and was starting the hike back down to his pack when a fast-moving storm blew in with heavy snow and high winds, a Hawaii Volcanoes National Park release said.

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In the extreme weather conditions, Sverdlov couldn’t find his pack and finally just hunkered down in the snow until daylight, with just the clothes he had on and a frozen water bottle. The next day, he was able to locate his pack but still couldn’t travel over the snowy trail, so he spent another night on the side of the volcano.

Sverdlov had bought a backcountry permit, so park rangers were aware he was out there. They found his vehicle on Tuesday. When the car was still there Wednesday, the release said they decided to send out a search and rescue helicopter.

“I’ve done many crazy hikes, but this one pretty much tops the bill,” Sverdlov said in the release. He also said he was worried he’d die on the mountain and was happy to hear the helicopter.

In an interview about his ordeal, Sverdlov told KITV that he slept directly in the snow that first night.

“I was shivering all night, but I didn't die,” he said. “The second night I had my sleeping bag, so I did the same thing except in the sleeping bag and it was warmer in the sleeping bag.”

Sverdlov told the TV station that hearing the helicopter was the “best moment of my life.”

“Essentially, if I had to walk down I probably would have made it, but it would've been another three or four days and those would've been a horrible, horrible three or four days."

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