Two women who had been stranded in the Colorado Rockies during an ice storm walked out to safety on their own Friday after rescuers were unable to reach them. Suzanne Turell, 33, and Connie Yang, 32, are experienced mountaineers but got trapped for over two days below the Longs Peak summit.
The Tumblr account set up in service of the rescue efforts reports that the women are reportedly being transported to Grand Lake, CO, though at the time of posting, their families had yet to speak to them.
Mark Pita, a ranger for Rocky Mountain National Park, stated, “They came out on their own. They are in fine condition. They were not injured.” The Park is currently closed due to the heavy rains.
The women were able to send a text message at 7:07 am (MT) on Thursday: “We need help. At top of Longs Peak. 13400 feet. Whiteout snowstorm. No injuries. Iced over risk of hypothermia.” Their phone batteries were dying and after authorities and friends were unable to reach the women, two search and rescue teams were sent out.
The plight of the York, Maine, residents prompted a broad community effort to retrieve them. Text messages flew back and forth to family and friends who contacted Colorado’s congressional delegation and a private aviation firm, Colorado Heli-Ops, which was retained to drop supplies to Turell and Yang. But owner Dennis Pierce said pilots were working on flood-related demands at the time. Rocky Mountain National Park rangers also sent a party in on Thursday that was forced back by flooded roads and closures (photo below of Roaring River flooding in the Park).
Recent storms and flooding hampered efforts to reach the hikers. Weather in the Centennial State is notoriously capricious but current severe rainfall and flooding is breaking records as it targets the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains from Fort Collins in the north to Colorado Springs in the south. Forecasts anticipate showers and thunderstorms will continue to pummel the area through the weekend. So far, four lives have been claimed by the turbulent weather.