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Lost Hiker Rescued from Flagstaff Peak

Coconino County Patrol MapSedona AZ (April 22, 2016) – On April 21, 2016, at 8:30 in the morning, the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office and Search and Rescue responded to a lost hiker report on Humphrey’s Peak, Flagstaff. The male hiker, 59, was off trail at approximately an 11,700 foot elevation and in an area known as Temptation Gully. He was cold, tired, disoriented, with some underlying medical conditions.

CCSO Search and Rescue personnel hiked into the area and found the man at 12:43 a.m. After assessing his condition, it was determined that the safest route was to hike to the Humphrey’s Saddle and then evaluate options for evacuation. A second search team hiked to the Humphrey’s Saddle and prepared to receive the hiker and provide warm drinks, food, and dry clothing.

Due to the hiker’s fatigue and symptoms of acute mountain sickness, an Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) Air Rescue helicopter from Phoenix was requested to evaluate landing at the Saddle for a flight evacuation. DPS Air Rescue arrived in the area at 3:30 in the morning and attempted to land but was prevented by high winds. A decision was made by Search and Rescue to camp until daylight, out of the wind and off the Saddle, allowing the hiker time to rest and regain normal body temperature. The daylight would also offer increased visibility.

Prepared to assist if the man became unable to hike out on his own due to mountain sickness and fatigue, at 4:15 in the morning, a third CCSO search team equipped with a litter and ropes began hiking to the Saddle.

Arizona DPS Search and Rescue helicopter

Arizona DPS Search and Rescue helicopter

At approximately 6:00 a.m., the hiker and search teams began hiking down Humphrey’s Trail to meet an Arizona Snowbowl snowcat sent to the base area of Pluto ski run. The hiker was then transported and reunited with a family member at the Agassiz Lodge while the Search and Rescue personnel hiked down the mountain and completed their mission by 11:30 a.m.

This incident was another example of the close working relationship between the CCSO Search and Rescue, DPS Air Rescue, and the Arizona Snowbowl to resolve an emergency. Even in the spring, winter-like conditions still exist on the San Francisco Peaks. Hikers on the peaks trails should research the conditions and be prepared to turn around if conditions become hazardous or the trail becomes difficult to navigate. Hikers should also be personally and physically prepared for the hike, including carrying the appropriate equipment and clothing and leaving a detailed trip plan with a trusted person.

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