Injured hiker rescued from Humphreys trail

Photo: azdailysun


An injured hiker was rescued off Humphreys Peak by Coconino County Search and Rescue and Arizona Snowbowl Monday, November 12, with assistance from multiple other agencies.

At about 9:20 a.m., the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office received a call about an injured hiker above the Humphreys Saddle on the Humphreys Peak Trail.

A party of three hikers from Flagstaff said they were hiking the trail when one slipped on some ice, injuring their shoulder, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

The hikers reported the injured person could not walk and requested a helicopter to pick them up. As search and rescue teams were responding, the Arizona Department of Public Safety Northern Air Rescue helicopter responded and located the hikers. However, the helicopter was unable to assist with the rescue due to the high winds.

The temperature on the ridge at 12,000 feet near where the hikers were located, was 17 degrees with winds of 56 miles per hour.

Search and Rescue and Guardian Medical Transport personnel were driven on Snowbowl Snowcats to the Midway Catwalk to access the Humphreys Peak Trail.

Rescuers reached the hiking party at about 12:30 p.m. and began to treat the injured hiker. The injured hiker’s arm was splinted and emergency services personnel helped the injured hiker down the trail to the Snowcat. The hikers were then transported from the Midway Catwalk back to the Agassiz Lodge. The injured hiker refused additional medical care.

The hikers were identified as 24-year-old NAU student Salvatore Bonanno, 20-year-old Christian Matthew and 19-year-old Ethan Murray, who both attend Coconino Community college. The Sheriff’s Office could not however identify which of the three had been injured.

The three hikers said they had started the hike at 4:30 am and said they had checked the weather and felt prepared for the hike. The hikers had minimal outer wear, clothing and gear for the conditions they faced, according to rescue personnel.

The Coconino County Sheriff’s Office asks those hiking in the winter backcountry to be prepared for the conditions.

Hiking on the San Francisco Peaks can involve encountering snow, ice, and windy conditions on the trail and especially above tree line. Appropriate clothing and equipment is necessary to recreate safely in these conditions. Cotton clothing should not be worn as when it gets wet it does not dry easily or quickly and can lead to hypothermia for the wearer. Instead, synthetic or wool clothing should be chosen.

Appropriate footwear is also a necessity. In addition to quality hiking boots, crampons may be needed for hard packed and icy conditions. An ice axe may be needed to assist in travel on steep and icy slopes.

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