Park rangers in a helicopter yesterday saved a New York man from the bizarre fate of dying from a Hawaiian snowstorm. Hiker Alex Sverdlov, 36, became stranded when a snowstorm hit, creating blinding white-out conditions as he was descending from the 13,677-foot summit of the Mauna Loa volcano on Tuesday, Big Island Now reports. He had taken off his backpack for the final ascent and was unable to find it in the storm, and was forced to spend the night protected by just his clothes. Sverdlov found his pack the next day but couldn't make much progress amid the deep snow, and spent a second night on the volcano, this time with a sleeping bag.
Sverdlov—an experienced hiker who had completed the 18-mile summit trek last winter—says he feared he would die on the mountain, but he was saved when the park's search-and-rescue coordinator launched a helicopter search, reports the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. He was the only registered hiker on the volcano at the time. "I've done many crazy hikes, but this one pretty much tops the bill," says Sverdlov, who plans another hike in a sunnier section of the park. (Click to read about another much hotter tale of survival.)