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Two mountain rescues for lost, injured hikers last week

Ranger Report

Forest rangers navigate icy terrain in the Dix mountain range during a rescue last week. (Photo provided by DEC)

Forest rangers with the state Department of Environmental Conservation made two mountain rescues last week in the Adirondacks: a pair of lost hikers on Whiteface Mountain and an injured hiker in the Dix range.

Lost hikers on Whiteface

It was 8:19 Monday morning, Jan. 13, when DEC’s Ray Brook dispatch received a call from the Lake Placid Police Department regarding two hikers who had not returned to their hotel in Lake Placid after leaving to hike Whiteface Mountain.

Ranger Kevin Burns responded to the area and located the hikers’ vehicle at the Connery Pond trailhead in the town of North Elba, northeast of Lake Placid. An additional eight rangers responded with UTVs and began sweeping the trail past Connery Pond toward the Whiteface summit.

The 38-year-old male and 33-year-old female hiker from Ithaca had intended to summit Whiteface via the Connery Pond trail but never made it to the summit, according to DEC. After losing the trail and hiking through waist-deep snow, they kept moving throughout the night and found the trail again at 8 a.m.

At 10:55 a.m., Ranger Robbi Mecus located the hikers just past the wilderness gate at Connery Pond, approximately a mile from the trailhead, and walked out with them. The hikers reached the trailhead at 11:30 a.m. and were assessed for possible cold injuries. Both hikers declined further medical assistance and were cleared of the trailhead at 11:45 a.m.

Injured hiker

in icy Dix range

It was the middle of the night, 3:21 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 14, when Essex County 911 transferred a call to DEC’s Central dispatch reporting an injury in the Dix mountain range in the town of North Hudson. The caller stated that his hiking partner, a 67-year-old male from Towaco, New Jersey, had broken his shoulder after a short fall on the Macomb Slide. The caller had to leave the injured hiker alone on the slide to walk out for help.

Four forest rangers entered the woods at 5:40 a.m., with a six-wheeler and cold-weather gear. The slide is approximately four miles from the trailhead, and rangers encountered icy conditions on difficult, remote terrain.

The rescue crew reached the injured hiker at 8:34 a.m. Rangers warmed the hiker and waited for a second rescue crew to establish an evacuation method. Once the second crew was on scene, it was determined that the hiker would be carried/walked out due to weather conditions. The hiker was belayed in a harness by Ranger Benjamin Baldwin and carried 450 feet up on the steep-angle terrain covered in loose rock and solid ice. Once off the slide, rangers walked with the hiker to staged all-terrain vehicles for evacuation to the trailhead.

Essex County ambulance providers transported the hiker to a local hospital.