On Thursday, officials reported the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center received an alert about the overdue hiker in his 20s. They say he was able to send a text message and make a 10 second phone call to his roommate.
The hiker believed he was 2-3 miles away from the trailhead.
A National Cell Phone Forensics Team at Civil Air Patrol was able to to launch software which sent a message to the hiker. By clicking on a link in the message, the hiker provided location information — GPS coordinates with an accuracy of approximately eight meters.
That GPS information showed the hiker was, in fact, 6 1/2 miles from the trailhead.
“We would have been searching in the wrong place without those coordinates,” said Paul “Woody” Woodward, a mission coordinator with the Alpine Rescue Team. “It was a game-changer.”
The hiker set off on the hike at 8:30 a.m. and got lost at around noon. Rescuers reached him at 1 a.m. They say they faced avalanche conditions at 11,600 feet with light snow and wind speeds up to 40 mph.
The hiker was uninjured, but cold. After warming and feeding him, the team began their hike down. They returned to base at 7:30 a.m.