SALT LAKE CITY – Three 19-year-old hikers were rescued on Oct. 23 after severe weather conditions stranded them on the summit of Utah's Mt. Olympus.
Rising over 9,000 feet high, Mt. Olympus hugs the eastern edge of Salt Lake City in northern Utah. Its height, combined with severe weather on the mountain, contributed to the harrowing nature of efforts to rescue the hikers.
"At one point we had a helicopter, but they had to stop that rescue because ice began forming on those rotors," said Sgt. Melody Cutler of the Utah Police Department of Greater Salt Lake. She added that high winds also prevented the rescue helicopter from flying safely.
Aerial footage from the helicopter shows a snow-covered mountain top as a rescue attempts to descend onto the mountain.
Complications caused by the severe, cold weather conditions endangered the lives of the young hikers and their rescuers, according to Cutler. Rescuers even questioned the feasibility of meeting the hikers on the summit versus meeting them at a basecamp below the summit.
Fortunately for the hikers, a break in the weather allowed the Utah Department of Public Safety to reach the summit and complete the rescue – what the sheriff is calling a "miracle."
Cutler reminds hikers to always be prepared. For example, she recommends hikers make sure their cell phones are fully charged, as the GPS locators on phones are "phenomenal" at helping rescuers find people.
She also recommends that hikers recognize that they may have to spend the night on the mountain and to prepare accordingly. The three rescued hikers only brought along light rain jackets, which became insufficient in the cold, snowy conditions higher up the mountain.