Utah County authorities worked to rescue three men stranded near the top of Mount Timpanogos in freezing temperatures on Monday night.
Deputies with the Utah County Sheriff’s Office were dispatched to Mount Timpanogos on Monday at around 6:45 p.m. after receiving reports the men — aged 19, 20 and 21 — were stuck and freezing near the top of the mountain, unable to get down on their own, according to the Utah County Sheriff’s Office press release published Tuesday.
Search and rescue worked alongside helicopter crews with the Utah Department of Public Safety and Intermountain LifeFlight to remove the men from the mountain.
After contacting authorities for help, the men began working their way down the west side of the mountain. When Utah County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue arrived at the Battle Creek trailhead, they used GPS coordinates to locate the men.
“For these men, conditions were critical,” according to the press release.
Search and rescue officials identified nearby cliffs that put the men’s safety at great risk. Authorities told the men to stop where they were while help came to them.
While search and rescue officials made their way toward the men, Utah Department of Public Safety and LifeFlight helicopter crews dropped a “care package” for the stranded men, which contained hand warmers, snacks and a two-way radio, included to help improve communications as the ‘ phones were low on battery and nearing 11% power.
Utah Department of Public Safety crews then hoisted each of the men into the helicopter and flew them to the command post where they were evaluated by paramedics with Pleasant Grove Fire Department.
“DPS and LifeFlight are invaluable assets in helping to bring these kinds of life-threatening situations to a successful resolution,” the press release read.
At least one of the men was taken to the hospital by friends, having sustained serious frostbite to his hands. Each of the three men experienced hypothermia.
“While they did sustain serious frostbite from the sub-freezing conditions, the outcome could have been much worse,” according to the press release.
Search and rescue crews wait until daylight to help stranded hikers and climbers in the summer months as it is safer to fly to them or active ground crews to help them down. However, in the winter months, conditions can be more serious or life threatening.
During the colder times of the year, search and rescue use two or more approaches to help stranded hikers and climbers. The best and quickest way, according to the press release, is to hoist them off of the mountain via helicopter. While the helicopter makes its way toward the recreationalists, ground crews also hike to the last known spot of the stranded individuals.
The two-pronged approach “saves precious hours” in case one of the two strategies fails.
“It is important when engaging in activities like this to be well-prepared with equipment that will enable you to stay overnight in any conditions should that become necessary,” according to the press release. “These men, while prepared for some things they encountered, were not well prepared to stay longer, even overnight, on the mountain should that have become necessary.”
All three men were safely off of the mountain by 10:40 p.m.