ESSEX COUNTY – The state Department of Environmental Conservation Friday released new details in the lead up to the rescue of a Schenectady 19-year-old from near the summit of Algonquin Peak last weekend – and cited lessons to take from the incident.
Officials cited start time, clothing and forecast check changes that could have prevented the incident.
The Schenectady 19-year-old, who has not been identified, was rescued early Monday morning from near the Essex County peak after he got lost near the summit and stuck hypothermic in waist-deep snow.
The DEC Friday detailed what led the Schenectady 19-year-old to be alone and stranded on the mountain in the first place.
The 19-year-old had actually started the day hiking with a friend, also 19, officials said.
They started out from the Adirondack Loj center at 12:30 p.m. Sunday, officials said. They intended to climb Wright, Algonquin, Boundary and Iroquois, officials said.
The 19-year-old who was ultimately rescued had small spikes for his boots, not the suggested microspikes for icy conditions, officials said.
He was also wearing hiking pants, but no thermals. He also had an insulated shell over a sweatshirt, officials said. It rained, then snowed with 15-miles-per-hour winds on a trail covered in ice, officials said.
The friends first succeeded in summiting Wright, then returned to the junction to discuss the rest of their plans, officials said. They then started up Algonquin.
The friend, however, soon decided he couldn’t keep up, so he turned around and went back, officials said. The 19-year-old that would be rescued continued on and texted his friend at about 4:40 p.m. that he had made the summit.
As he returned down, though, he became lost. He texted his father asking for a picture of a map to find the closest road or trail to nearby Lake Colden, officials said.
By that point, too, his spikes had broken and he was having trouble continuing on the ice, officials said.
The father called 911 and Forest Ranger Robert Praczkajlo called the stranded 19-year-old and had him call 911 to determine his location.
Rescuers determined he had circumnavigated the north side of the summit and found himself in the waist-deep snow.
The lost hiker was in and out of sleep/consciousness, but Praczkajlo kept him awake on the phone, officials said.
The 19-year-old hiker had been lost between 8 and 11 hours in the High Peaks Wilderness Area when state Department of Environmental Conservation rescuers found him at 4:22 a.m. Monday. The initial call came in at about 8 p.m. Sunday.
The hiker was then led off the mountain and sent to Adirondack Medical Center in Lake Placid, officials said in Tuesday report.
“Starting earlier in the day, wearing proper clothing, and checking the weather forecast could have prevented this incident,” the DEC said in a statement.