A hiker from New York, 36-year-old Alex Sverdlov, set out last Sunday on an 18-mile trek to summit Mauna Loa at Hawaii’s Volcanoes National Park. A fast-moving winter storm pummeled the island’s peak, trapping Sverdlov for two days, reports Hawaii's National Park Service on Friday.
Sverdlov reached the 13,677-foot peak on Tuesday, but then became trapped on his descent. The experienced climber had left most of his gear at a lower elevation before making the final summit climb, and could not locate his equipment in the white-out conditions upon his return.
Sverdlov spent two nights in the impenetrable snow and frozen wilderness before being rescued by a helicopter search crew. One night was spent in the frigid cold with only his clothes and a frozen water bottle.
The Queens man successfully summited Mauna Loa last winter.
“I've done many crazy hikes, but this one pretty much tops the bill,” said Sverdlov, who incredibly has applied for another backcountry permit, for the park's remote coastal area. “This time I'm going to the sunny part of the park,” Sverdlov joked.
“Even the most experienced and prepared hikers can get into trouble in the park,” said Park Ranger John Broward Broward. “What saved Alex is that he had a backcountry permit so we knew he was up there, he is extremely fit, and he stayed calm. We're all fortunate this had a happy ending.”