COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — A Colorado Springs man had to have his legs amputated below the knee after he suffered extreme frostbite while climbing a 14,232-foot peak.
Nick Noland reached the summit of Mount Shavano near Salida on Tuesday and began climbing down.
While descending the 14er, Noland — an experienced climber — mistakenly went off the main trail.
“My feet had started to go numb. I loosened up the laces on my shoes to free circulation and I didn’t even realize when I lost my first shoe,” he said.
The situation worsened after dark.
“I was yelling and screaming and trying to listen too, but I never heard any response and couldn’t hear anything,” Noland said.
Search teams were deployed, but they could not find Noland, a husband and father of two boys.
“My feet were starting to feel like blocks of ice. I did the best I could to protect my hands. Every time I stopped just to wait, my life went away from me. I knew I had to keep moving. I was afraid of what would happen if I stopped,” Noland said.
Noland was able to make it down the mountain on his own about 5 a.m. Wednesday.
He got to his truck and called 911. He was then taken to the Denver area for treatment.
At UC Health University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora, he had both legs amputated below the knee due to severe frostbite.
Noland’s hands were also burned by the cold, but he expects them to recover.
“I’m going to be here for a while. They are going to help me, plan for the next steps of my life. I have every intention to get back out there and be in the places I love to be,” Noland said.
Noland is sharing his story in the hope of preventing something similar from happening to someone else.
“I don’t mind being a poster child for a warning if it helps someone else — or even better — saves a life,” Noland said.
Noland is unsure how long he will remain in the hospital.