Four boys from Helper will probably get an earful from worried parents over the next few days, but for now, they are happy to be home and in a warm bed after a harrowing night on the mountain.
Friday night at approx. 8:37 p.m. the Carbon County Dispatch got a 911 call that several people were stranded in the mountain directly behind Utah Railways. The callerвЂ™s phone was dying and they were not sure exactly where they were, but they were stuck on a cliff and could not go up or down.
About that time there were several parents looking for boys, overdue from an afterschool hike. Jenny Cartwright heard that Search and Rescue was being dispatched to try and rescue the hikers and she immediately knew it was her son and friends.
Four junior high boys and a 22 and a 34 year old male had headed up Hardscrabble Canyon to do a little shed hunting after school. They also had a black lab named Thor with them. According to the 34 year old, the dog tired out and the group had to take it slow so they wouldnвЂ™t leave Thor behind. They attempted to come down the front of the mountain to save time, but the cliffs and ledges were too steep and the group got stuck. The oldest member of the party was on a lower ledge with Thor, while the boys and the other adult were above on another cliff.
According to Kerry Jensen with Carbon County Search and Rescue, they were not sure where the group was. The cell phone did have GPS, but was not accurate because the group was cliffed up. The group also was not equipped for night time temperature that began dipping into the 30вЂ™s with wind chill factored in. Knowing time was critical to keep people alive, 11 members of the search and rescue headed up the face of the mountain to reach the stranded hikers.
The team took in heavy winter parkas for each stranded hiker and high angle rescue gear in case they had to rappel down to the group.
Parents waited at the bottom, watching the painfully slow process of the rescuers lights heading toward the glow of a campfire that the 34 year old had managed to light. The group above was not able to get a fire started.
Just before 1 a.m. the parents received calls that the search team had made contact with everyone and all were safe. Cartwright wept as she spoke to her son by cell phone.
вЂњHearing his voice just ripped my heart out.вЂќ she said. вЂњI canвЂ™t wait to see him down off the mountain.вЂќ
She and all the other parents would have to wait four more agonizing hours for that happy ending. Search and Rescue took the safest route off the mountain in the pitch dark night. The parking area was lined with cars filled with anxious parents straining to see headlamps coming down the canyon.
At 5:00 a.m. everyone was brought safely down into Spring Canyon above Helper. Hugs flowed freely and thank-youвЂ™s to the men who risked much to save the group were also abundant. Incident Commander Tony Koss said, вЂњWe get one or two of these every ten years and it is rewarding. A lot of times we just train and wonder if it is worth it, but then this makes it all worthwhile.вЂќ
“It was a dangerous climb up to get them. They (the rescue team) probably took some risks they shouldn’t have, but there were kids involved,” Koss added.
The oldest member of the group apologized to the boys, the parents and the rescuers but said he wouldnвЂ™t leave the dog behind. He was grateful for the outcome of the ordeal.