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Hiker caught in Mauna Loa snowstorm rescued

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 07:00 p.m. HST, Jan 30, 2014

A hiker stranded on Mauna Loa after a snowstorm struck on Tuesday was rescued by park rangers this morning.

According to a press release issued by Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, rangers conducting a helicopter search found Alex Sverdlov, 36, sunburned and wind-whipped, at 9 a.m. The New York resident, is an experienced hiker who successfully hiked the 18-mile trek to Mauna Loa's 13,677-foot summit last winter.

Sverdlov began the ascent on Sunday, starting at an elevation of about 6,660 feet at the top of Mauna Loa Road. He reached the summit on Tuesday, after dropping his gear at a lower elevation, according to a press release. The storm struck as he was on his late-afternoon descent. 

Unable to find his pack, Sverdlov hunkered down in the snow until daylight -- protected from the elements only by the clothes he was wearing.   

The park's management closed the mountain to visitors on Tuesday due to the dangerous weather. Sverdlov was the only registered hiker, and park rangers were unable to reach him by phone and found his car still parked on Mauna Loa Road Wednesday afternoon. 

The hiker found his pack on Wednesday morning, but deep snow made it impossible for him to gain much ground in his descent, and he spent a second night on the mountain. 

Park Ranger John Broward, who spotted Sverdlov during this morning's helicopter search, said in the release: "Even the most experienced and prepared hikers can get into trouble in the park." He continued, "What saved Alex is that he had a backcountry permit so we knew he was up there, he is extremely fit, and he stayed calm. We're all fortunate this had a happy ending."

Sverdlov, who told park officials today that he we was worried that he would die on Mauna Loa and was astonished when he heard the helicopter, said in the release: "I've done many crazy hikes, but this one pretty much tops the bill." 

This afternoon, Sverdlov applied for another backcountry permit, for the park's remote coastal area. "This time I'm going to the sunny part of the park," he said.

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nitpikker wrote:
gotta be a rarity, stuck in a snowstorm in hawaii.
on January 30,2014 | 04:07PM
Tarakian wrote:
I'm sorry, but this is too funny! Can you read this story on the mainland newspapers! Too funny! Hiker gets caught in snowstorm...in Hawaii! Too funny! After all the snow and cold on the eastern parts of the mainland, people will confused with this story. I'm glad all went well for the hiker and thanks to the rescue workers! Too funny!
on January 30,2014 | 04:07PM
copperwire9 wrote:
Not funny. He could easily have died.
on January 30,2014 | 06:33PM
50skane wrote:
He caught in a Hawaii polar vortex!
on January 30,2014 | 07:10PM
jeffhonolulu wrote:
And I am going to be stuck with the bill to pay for his rescue!! Don't you think if he wants to go on dangerous hikes he should fork over the money it cost to save him??
on January 30,2014 | 08:31PM
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