“This is a hell of a Thanksgiving present.” – Dan Smith Vail Mountain Rescue Group Aviation Coordinator
A pair of teenagers are home safe for Thanksgiving after two frigid nights lost in the Eagle County wilderness after summiting Mount of the Holy Cross as reported by The Denver Post . Tommy Hendricks (18) and Matt Smith (17), students at Coronado High School in Colorado Springs, were spotted by from an airplane after zeroing in on their footprints leading from Holy Cross’s peak (elevation 14,009ft).
They were found 4,000 feet below and a few miles from the summit after a coordinated search involving 35 rescuers with use of an airplane and a Colorado Army National Guard Black Hawk helicopter. Dan Smith of Vail Mountain Rescue Group credits their survival in near whiteout snow conditions and 7 degree temps to the boys headlamps and fire making abilities.
They were briefly hospitalized and released with minor frostbite on the toes. Tommy’s mom, Peggy Hendricks was overjoyed when they were found and returned safely:
“It’s the greatest Thanksgiving ever. We’ve gone from absolute worry, and in my case, despair, to elation.”
Spokeswoman for the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office, Jessie Porter, wants people to get the message that this incident ended well but could have gone differently:
“They are very lucky. Very, very lucky, based on the weather that we’ve had. Summiting the Mount of Holy Cross at 7 p.m. alone is scary. They will have a story to tell, that’s for sure.”
[images from The Denver Post]