Lost Hiker Survives Blizzard   

60-year-old Wally Fosmore was snowshoeing in Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest in Washington state when he took a wrong turn and got lost in a blizzard.  He was at one point able to reach his son using his cell phone and was reported missing.  But the rescuers were not able to search for him because the area he was hiking in was an avalanche chute and was too dangerous.  Eventually, a helicopter reached him, but could only drop some supplies and directions where he could meet rescuers because the helicopter was not equipped with a winch, and the snow was too deep to land in.  Fosmore was forced to spend the night in a blizzard, and cross a river covered in snow multiple times before being rescued.  These are some of the lessons that we can learn from his experience.

  • Know the area that you are entering and the dangers that go along with it. Had he not been in an avalanche chute he could have been rescued by snowmobile much faster.
  • Fosmore took shelter under two fallen trees and made a fire to get through the night. Making use of existing shelter first, then making a fire made it possible for him to survive extremely low temperatures and bad weather.
  • Fosmore was a formerly involved in search and rescue. He carried on him a card that listed “10 essential items”.  He made sure to always take these items with him when he went into the wilderness.They are:
  • Extra clothes
  • Extra food
  • A plastic shelter (tarp/poncho)
  • Map
  • Compass
  • Matches
  • Candle
  • Knife
  • First aid kit
  • FlashlightEven though he only planned on being gone on a short trip he still took all these items with him, without which he would not have been able to find shelter at night, start a fire, stay warm, and navigate.

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