On May 9th, at 9:00 am, the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue Unit responded to a report of a hypothermic adult male hiker on top of Mt. Elden. The weather at the time was moderate to heavy snow with approximately 3-5 inches of snow on the ground. the US Forest Service was contacted by the Sheriff’s Office to determine if the Elden Lookout Tower was staffed. It was determined that a lookout was at the tower and he was asked to look for the hiker near the base of the tower. The lookout located the hiker and assisted him to shelter while waiting for search and rescue to arrive. Upon search and rescue arrival the hiker was warming up at the lookout tower and his condition was improving. Ultimately the hiker received a ride home from friends who had also responded to assist.
The hiker, a 30-year-old male resident of Flagstaff had gone for a day hike. He had planned to hike to the top of Mt. Elden and arrive there by a certain time to qualify for a free pizza sponsored by a local business. The hiker was either unaware of the weather forecast or disregarded the forecast and set off ill prepared wearing shorts and light clothing.
The Search and Rescue Unit would like to remind hikers that spring weather in Northern Arizona can change rapidly. Hikers should familiarize themselves with the weather forecast prior to setting out for a hike. Hikers should also carry the “Ten Essentials” which include water, food, extra warm clothing, navigation equipment, headlamp/flashlight, first aid kit, shelter material (space blanket or large leaf bag), fire starting kit, pocket knife/multi-tool, and signaling equipment (whistle and mirror). Carrying a cell phone is also a good idea although there are still locations in Coconino County that do not have cellular service. Hikers should always leave a detailed itinerary for their hike with a trusted person in case they do not return as expected.