It was supposed to just be an eight-hour hike, but 19-year-old Samuel Frappier instead found himself perched precariously on a ledge at 13,000 feet overnight.
The red circle indicates where Frappier was stranded on Longs Peak . (Credit Rocky Mountain National Park)
"Very steep slope. I had a little rock and last night I spend all night shivering on the small rock,” Frappier told sister station KCNC after he was rescued from Longs Peak in Rocky Mountain National Park. "All of my clothes were wet."
The teen, who hails from Quebec, Canada, started his hike up Longs Peak Tuesday with a friend, but somewhere along the way the pair was separated. Frappier made it to the top of the top of the 14,255-foot mountain, and on a map spotted a route down that looked faster. The shortcut turned out to be far more treacherous than the route he had used to climb up.
"It became very, very steep," Frappier said.
Frappier reached a point on the mountain called Broadway Ledge, and realized he couldn't go any further.
"If I would have slipped one foot more I would have fallen to the my death. So I just stopped right there."
Clad in running shoes, carrying little gear and with little mountaineering experience, the teenager spent the night sitting more than 2 miles high in what a Rocky Mountain National Park spokesperson called a "horrible spot." The one thing Frappier fortunately was carrying was his cell phone--and 13,000 feet up in the middle of a national park he was able to get service. Frappier called for help.
“The first time I called I said, ‘I’m stuck. I can’t go up, I can’t go down. I’m stuck here, I don’t know what to do.’ I was standing in snow, just as the snow falls off it was a long way down,” said Frappier. “It was a stupid idea.”
That started a lengthy ordeal to get Frappier down from the mountain Wednesday. KCNC reports that the rescue involved more than two dozen people, including other hikers on the ground. A helicopter used to rescue hikers from Grand Teton National Park was flown in, but struggled to reach Frappier.
“The helicopter was trying to get near but it was so steep it couldn’t get near. It tried three times and I thought I was going to sleep another restless night and I looked for a spot for the helicopter to land and then I saw the rescuers,” Frappier described his rescue. “I met them at the helicopter spot and walked down.”
Those rescuers battled deep snow and ice to reach Frappier, and after he was safely down had to be flown out themselves. Frappier acknowledged the rescuers risked their lives to save him.
"I'm lucky it ended well, very lucky."
Frappier was taken to a hospital and released the same day. He says he'll never get himself in that position again.
"It was stupid...I'll never do it again."