Hiker Trapped On Mauna Loa Rescued

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It was like a nightmare scenario turned Hollywood movie, but it was all too real....and it happened to Alex Sverdlov.

The 36-year-old Queens, NY was at the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park this past week with the intent of trekking to the top of the Mauna Loa volcano. Sverdlov made the 18 mile trip up to the peak and reached the summit on Tuesday.

And then everything went terribly wrong.

During his descent, the New York native found himself blindsided by an unexpected snowstorm. Sverdlov found himself battered by freezing winds and blinding snow. To make matters worse, much of his gear had been left behind during his trip up the volcano.

Sverdlov didn't anticipate needing the heavier gear and thanks to the horrible, "white-out" conditions, he was unable locate his pack. He had no choice but to survive the frigid conditions overnight with scant supplies: The thin wet clothing he wore and a frozen water bottle. Sverdlov found the rest of his gear the next day, but the snow had made it impossible for him to get down. He would have to suffer through another night on Mauna Loa in freezing conditions.

Luckily for Sverdlov, park rangers were aware of his hike.

“What saved Alex is that he had a backcountry permit,” said park ranger John Broward. "We knew he was up there."

When he failed to come back down for his car, which was still sitting untouched on Wednesday, the park rangers had guessed that Sverdlov had been caught in the terrible storm.

Sverdlov was rescued by helicopter on Thursday morning. He was reported to have said of his nerve-wracking experience that he'd, "done many crazy hikes, but this one pretty much tops the bill."

The ordeal hasn't squashed his love of hiking and he immediately applied for another permit. However, Sverdlov insists that this time he will be sticking to the "sunny part of the park."

No one can fault him for that decision.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

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