Backpacker in Zion rescued from immobilizing winter weather conditions

backpacker rescued Zion...

Flight officers prepare to transfer the rescued hiker to an ambulance for transport to Cedar City Hospital, Kolob Canyons, Iron County, Utah, Jan. 10, 2022 Photo: Washington County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue, St. George News

ST. GEORGE, Utah — A stranded backpacker was rescued from Zion National Park on Monday after she became stuck in the snow. 

Sgt. Darrell Cashin with the Washington County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue told the St. George News the woman was hiking by the arch in Kolob Fingers where there was 2-3 feet of snow. On her second day of backpacking, she became physically stuck when 15 degree temperatures “practically immobilized her legs.”

Search and rescue crews were able to find her with the help of a SPOT device the woman had on her. SPOT shares geolocation info with emergency personnel. With the device, the backpacker was able to send a text requesting help.

Frozen in snow and having difficulty thinking straight

The search and rescue team boarded vehicles adapted for winter terrain. However, conditions were so rough that they had to hike a mile in order to reach the woman. 

Crews reached her after an hour and a half at which point the backpacker had reported going in and out of consciousness and seemed to have trouble thinking straight, reported the St. George news

The search and rescue team got the backpacker out of her frozen solid boots and into warm clothes and a sleeping bag. 

backpacker rescued Zion

Search and rescue deputies had to hike in the last mile to reach a woman stuck in the snow in the Kolob Canyons region of Zion National Park, Washington County, Utah, Jan. 10, 2022 Photo: Washington County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue, St. George News

The Utah Department of Public Safety/Utah Highway Patrol rescue helicopter flew from Salt Lake City to lift the woman out and transport her to an ambulance. The ambulance brought her to Cedar (City) Hospital. 

“She got lucky,” said Sgt. Cashin, “had she not been able to use a SPOT, she may have never made it out.”

Contributing: Heather Kelly

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