Warning to hikers after High Peaks rescue

Local News

(NEWS10) — The rescue of four Saratoga teens from one of the high peaks of the Adirondacks is a warning to other hikers as winter conditions persist in the higher elevations.

The teens were not equipped for the challenging trail or the weather conditions. Number 11 of the high peaks 46ers, Mount Colden is no place for beginners, and this week four of them were stranded on the summit.

“I feel bad for the rangers because they go out with increasing frequency, and they certainly put their own lives at risk to go out and rescue folks, and it’s really unnecessary,” said avid hiker Ray O’Conor.

A State Police helicopter helped forest rangers rescue the teens. One of them had a leg injury and the other had hypothermia. O’Conor has climbed Mount Colden and says the weather up there can be unpredictable.

“Down here in the low country you won’t find a flake of snow, but up in the higher elevations you have plenty of snow,” he said.

Winter conditions can last well into spring and even an experienced hiker can be caught off guard by a snow storm. O’Conor carries about 30 pounds of equipment with him on a day hike. He wears crampons and micro-spikes for traction. Snowshoes are required on hikes above 3,000.

O’Conor blames an increase in rescues on one thing.

“People think their phone can save them,” he said.

Instead, learn how to read a map and use a compass. Do your homework, be prepared, and you can enjoy the view.

“There’s always a little bit of magic when you reach the top,” said O’Conor.

He says good place for novices to start is by joining a club like the Adirondack Mountain Club.

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