Teenage climbers escape death after getting stranded on 14er

Tommy Hendricks and Matthew Smith

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Two Colorado Springs teens are lucky to be alive after getting lost in a snowstorm while hiking the 14er Mt. Of The Holy Cross.

Tommy Hendricks and Matthew Smith are experienced climbers, so they set out to do a technical climb of the tough 14er, but dangerous weather that was supposed to come in midday Tuesday had other plans.

“It came in late Monday night about 6:30, 7:00, right when we were summiting the mountain, and that’s when stuff really started to get real,” said Hendricks.

They did what they had to do.

“Headed on down maybe about 400 feet, found this over hanging rock, just to kind of shield us from the snow and blizzard as much as we could,” said Hendricks.

Winds brought temps to an estimated negative 14 degrees, which caused frostbite.

At this point, their parents had search and rescue looking for them, but they still had to stay positive.

“Fear is the epitome of doubt and if you doubt yourself in the mountains you’re screwed,” said Smith.

On the way down from the peak, the fresh snow from the storm got them lost, which made it hard to find them.

“They flew directly over us and they didn’t see us, so I said, ‘I’m giving them an hour and a half, but I’m not wasting any more daylight, or my time, or your time, on a maybe rescue,” said Smith.

With only two granola bars left, they gave the situation to God.

“We’re totally surrendering this situation to God and I think when we did that is when we really started to do our best out there,” said Smith.

On the fifth pass, the helicopter saw them, signaling the end of their ordeal.

“That was definitely the greatest amount of euphoria I’ve ever had,” said Hendricks.

Hendricks and Smith are lucky. They aren’t losing any toes or fingers from frostbite.

They said this is giving them a new outlook on life and they want to give back to less fortunate.

They also still plan on climbing again after giving their guardian angels a little break.

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