(SEATTLE) — A 60-year-old hiker was rescued this week after surviving more than 24 hours in the snowy, mountainous wilderness of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest in Washington state, according to the Chelan County Sheriff’s Office.
Wally Fosmore, 60, had been snowshoe hiking by himself this past Tuesday when he reached an area known as McCue Ridge and went down the wrong side, said Rich Magnusson, public information officer for the Chelan County Department of Emergency Management, which is part of the sheriff’s office.
Fosmore got lost after he encountered a snow squall that caused whiteout conditions, Magnusson told ABC News Friday.
The 60-year-old was reported missing later Tuesday night after he failed to return to the Scottish Lakes High Camp in Leavenworth, Washington — the retreat where he and his family had been staying, Magnusson said.
Unfortunately, the sheriff’s office could not send out a search-and-rescue team until the next morning because of dangerous conditions that night in the area, according to Magnusson.
The area that Fosmore hiked down “is actually a known avalanche chute,” Magnusson said. “It wasn’t safe to put out our search-and-rescue team because of the danger of a possible avalanche and the fact that it was black out and had just snowed.”
But on early Wednesday morning, the search-and-rescue team was able to make phone contact with Fosmore, who “advised he was in good condition and was able to make a temporary shelter overnight,” Magnusson said.
The sheriff’s office then sent out a helicopter, which was able to locate Fosmore and drop him a bag filled with food, water and directions to a trail they could meet him at, Magnusson said. The helicopter wasn’t able to rescue Fosmore directly because it did not have a winch or hoist, and the deep snow in the area made it impossible to land, Magnusson added.
Search-and-rescue team members on snowmobiles located Fosmore at around 4 p.m. that day and reunited him with his family by 5 p.m., according to Magnusson.
“Amazingly, he was in pretty good condition, given what he went through,” Magnusson said. “He was obviously very tired, but he wasn’t injured at all.”
Magnusson said that he credited Fosmore’s “preparedness” with the happy ending to this story.
“Though he had only planned to snowshoe hike for a few hours, he took all the required equipment you’d need in case of an emergency,” Magnusson said.
Fosmore told ABC News Friday though he “understood the gravity of the situation, he “never felt in a panic or obliterated.”
“I was focused and I’d say, measured, in my energy,” Fosmore said. “It was definitely challenging because I knew that every step I took had to be a good one.”
Fosmore hopes his story encourages “everyone who goes into backcountry to take their 10 essentials with them” — extra clothes, extra food, a plastic shelter, map, compass, matches, candle, knife, first aid kit and flashlight.
“If I hadn’t had those things with me, and if I hadn’t found that makeshift shelter that night, I don’t think I would have lasted the night,” he said.
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