SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4)– Two climbers were rescued from one of Colorado’s popular 14ers after they became trapped.
The experienced climbers, Eric Hall and Thomas Ferrara, became stuck on Mount Quandary over Memorial Day weekend.
As they made their way up the mountain, conditions quickly changed.
“Because of the heat, the snow was so soft and I think we were expecting it to be cooler and maybe even ice at the top. It was not the case, the avalanche potential was very high,” said Ferrera.
The pair was just 100 meters short of reaching the summit when they realized they had a 50-50 chance of survival. Continuing up the mountain was too dangerous but so was going back down.
“We decided to make the call to search and rescue and said, ‘Hey, we don’t have the tools and equipment we need in case of an avalanche and we would rather not take the risk,'” said Ferrera.
They were 14,000 feet up the mountain with a dwindling cellphone battery… and they waited.
“We had run out of water, we had expected to be done, we are sucking on icicles, encased in ice… it was very cold,” said Ferrera.
A rescue helicopter was sent out but it could not make a safe landing. Rescuers couldn’t safely make the climb themselves. That meant Hall and Ferrera had to spend the night.
“They say ‘You guys are inaccessible, we can’t get there tonight.’ That was disparaging news,” said Ferrera.
Morning couldn’t come soon enough for the climbers who were suffering from exhaustion and frostbite. That’s when the National Guard helicopter came to lift them from the mountain.
As for Ferrera, he says the experience will not stop him from climbing, “We are going to take a little break from climbing. At some point, you get back on the horse and you get back out there.”