Four people rescued on snowy San Francisco Peaks in past week
The Coconino County Sheriff’s office has rescued two sets of people who got lost in the snowy San Francisco Peaks over the past week.
It’s a reminder to outdoor adventure-seekers to be cautious and prepared if traveling Arizona’s backcountry during the winter months.
Two hikers called 911 as evening approached on Jan. 10 when snow cover made a trail on Humphrey’s Peak hard to follow. The adult male and female could not find a trailhead around 4:45 p.m. and were getting cold at 10,750 feet. A search and rescue team led by the sheriff’s office and Arizona Snowbowl found the couple using snowcats. They were taken back to the Agassiz Lodge by 9 p.m.
A day later, Arizona Snowbowl Ski Patrol alerted the sheriff’s office about two lost snowboarders he left the ski area boundary. One snowboarder was found by search and rescue, and the other hiked back to a parking lot were he was found and reunited with the other snowboarder and friends.
None of the four rescued required any medical attention, but Coconino County released the information to alert the public of the dangers of exploring wilderness areas, especially when snow can cover trails.
The sheriff’s office said map reading, and compass and GPS skills are necessary, as are the 10 essentials of hiking the backcountry: water, food, extra warm clothing, navigation equipment, headlamp/flashlight, first aid kit, shelter material/space blanket, fire starting kit, pocket knife/multi-tool and whistle/signal mirror.
The winter backcountry essentials are an avalanche shovel, avalanche probe, and avalanche beacon. A cell phone is a good item to carry but backcountry travelers should be aware that cellular service may not be available. Even if your cell phone does not indicate that it has signal, if you have an emergency you should still attempt to call 911. All backcountry travelers should leave a detailed trip plan with a trusted person who can contact emergency services in the event that the traveler does not check in or return by a specified time.
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