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Texas hikers rescued from Quandary Peak after 13-hour rescue mission

Hikers were stranded on a cliff band as worsening weather conditions kept them from descending Quandary.
Credit: Summit County Rescue Group technical team
Zac Cohen on the summit of Quandary PeakCourtesy: Summit County Rescue Group

SUMMIT COUNTY — Two hikers from Texas were rescued from Quandary Peak after they became stranded on a cliff band.

Summit County Rescue Group said it took 13 hours to get the 26-year-old woman and 31-year-old man off the mountain.

The couple began their hike at 7 a.m. Friday. They told rescuers they had planned to take the East Ridge Trail to summit Quandary, but they were not familiar with the area and ended up on the West Ridge Trail.

The West Ridge Trail is a more technical hike, according to Summit County Rescue Group.

The rescue group was called just after 2:15 p.m. about the stranded hikers. The hikers were stuck at around the 13,800-foot level and were unable to ascend or descend the mountain.

The couple told rescuers that as they were hiking up, temperatures dropped and snow began falling which made them change their plans. They decided to descend the mountain, but the worsening weather caused the hikers to drift off trail where they got stuck in some cliff bands.

Credit: Summit County Rescue Group technical team
Devon Haire preparing technical evacuation routeCourtesy: Summit County Rescue Group

Rescuers coming up the West Ridge Trail weren't able to spot the stuck hikers immediately. Due to waning daylight, rescuers decided to call in Flight For Life to help find the hikers. The chopper spotted the hikers just after 4:45 p.m.

Flight For Life dropped in two members of the Summit County Rescue Group and climbing gear on Quandary's East Ridge at about 13,000 feet. The rescue climbers summited Quandary and began descending the West Ridge. They met up with other rescuers who were coming up the West Ridge. They located the stuck hikers at 7:05 p.m.

Rescuers said the stuck hikers were experiencing the initial stages of hypothermia when they were found.

Credit: Summit County Rescue Group technical team
Summit County Rescue Group Technical Team setting up hand lines for the evacuation of stranded hikersCourtesy: Summit County Rescue Group

As the hikers and rescue crews were moving back to the main trail, another snow storm moved through the area. The storm produced lightning and wind, which increased the challenges for the rescuers and hikers who were on an exposed ridge line

Crews and the hikers were finally able to get back on the West Ridge Trail at 9:40 p.m.

In all, 18 members of the Summit County Rescue Group responded to the rescue.

The rescuers and hikers were off the mountain at 2:15 a.m. Saturday.

Weather in the area was overcast with light to heavy rain, sleet and snow, with gust winds, and temperatures in the 30s.

Rescuers said the hikers did not have cold weather clothing.

Quandary Peak is the highest summit of the Tenmile Range in the Rocky Mountains of North America. It has nearly the same elevation as Castle Peak and Mount Evans and is about 2 hours from Denver.