A Queens man is lucky to be alive after a snowstorm stranded the hiker near the summit of a Hawaiian volcano.
He reached the 13,677-foot summit on Tuesday after dropping off his heavy gear at a lower elevation, but, as he was descending, a snowstorm struck, creating white-out conditions.
That night, Sverdlov tried to find the gear he left behind, but was unsuccessful, the NPS said. With only the clothes he had on for protection and a bottle of frozen water, he decided to stay put until sunrise.
Photo courtesy of David Okita
He managed to locate his pack Wednesday morning, but with the deep snow, he didn’t go far, and was forced to spend another night on Mauna Loa. Sverdlov, who had successfully, summited the volcano last winter, was “worried that he’d die” there, said the NPS.
“I’ve done many crazy hikes, but this one pretty much tops the bill,” said Sverdlov.
But the local park rangers hadn’t forgotten about him.
Sverdlov was the only registered hiker on the volcano after park management closed the mountain to visitors early Tuesday because of the weather. Park rangers first tried to call his cell phone, but couldn’t reach him. They then located his car on Mauna Loa Road, and when they saw it was still there Wednesday, rangers launched a helicopter search, locating him by 9 a.m. Thursday.
“Even the most experienced and prepared hikers can get into trouble in the park,” said John Broward, who serves as the park’s search-and-rescue coordinator. “What saved Alex is that he had a backcountry permit so we knew he was up there, he is extremely fit and he stayed calm. We’re all fortunate this had a happy ending.”
Despite the near-death experience, Sverdlov is not giving up his hiking adventures.
The same afternoon he was rescued, he applied for another backcountry permit, for the park’s remote coastal area, the NPS said.
“This time I’m going to the sunny part of the park,” Sverdlov said.