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Hiker recalls experience after being stranded on Shadow Mountain

Two adult hikers didn’t expect to spend the night on Shadow Mountain on the far west edge of Pahrump or that they would be lifted to safety by helicopter.

Nic Couturr and Sebastian Fronk of Pahrump, both 18, endured a night of temperatures that fell into the 20s and had limited food supply for their night on the hill after the trail the pair were on collapsed behind them on Sunday.

“We were overjoyed when we spotted the helicopter because we were exhausted, hungry and tired at that moment,” Couturr said. “We were weak and all we wanted was just to get down, get home and eat something.”

The Nye County Search and Rescue crews along with a Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department helicopter managed to locate both Couturr and Fronk on Monday with the LVMDP bringing in a helicopter for the rescue. The sheriff’s office said it had made two attempts to rescue the hikers by using two different trails, though unsuccessful, the previous night.

Both hikers came out without injury and declined medical attention.

“I really do appreciate search and rescue and the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department helicopter for getting us down, because without them, we would probably be still stuck up there,” Couturr said.

Couturr said he has experience hiking with friends in the past, but he just recently started back on the trail again.

How the events unfolded

The path to the rescue began with Nye County Search and Rescue teams being dispatched on Sunday to locate the stranded adult hikers, after it was reported that the trail they were walking along had somehow collapsed beneath them, effectively trapping the hikers, according to the Nye County Sheriff’s office.

Couturr noted that he and Fronk met up at the base of the mountain and started hiking up at roughly noon on Sunday.

“It took us about four hours to get where we were,” he said. “While we were going up the right side of the mountain, we were trying to make our way to the left, so we could get to a cave. While we were going, and all of a sudden, all of the rocks started falling behind us. We were freaked out because we were stuck where we were.”

Couturr explained that Fronk “ended up climbing on top of the different areas, and climbing back down to me, because we were trying to find a better way to the cave. I was pretty nervous at the time, but I can’t say I was too scared because I didn’t know that we were stuck until later on. We were looking for a different way around but we couldn’t find one.”

Fortunately, for both, Couturr said he had cell phone service in the area where they were stranded.

“The first person I called was my mom and asked her what I should do,” he said. “She then called my father and they ended up coming off of work and calling Nye County Search and Rescue because I was trying to save the battery in my phone as much as I could. I did let my mom know that we were going hiking, because it’s always good to let somebody know where you are in case you can’t contact anyone.”

The pair had some gear for the night, but their supplies were low. But they had to wait to be rescued and endure the overnight temperatures on the mountain.

“We were properly dressed wearing pants and thin hoodies, and we planned on going down later in the day, but things didn’t work out so well, and it was pretty cold up there,” he said. “We ended up starting a fire and went into a small little cave that we found. When we had the fire going, we ended up throwing rocks in there, so when the fire finally went out, we had some heating to keep us going. We didn’t have anything to eat, plus, we ran out of water when the trail failed.”

Though when lost out on a trail, professional hikers advise to stay put until help arrives, Couturr said he was confident about continuing to seek out a traversable trail.

“I knew where we were, so we did not stay put,” he said. “It’s probably smarter in certain situations, but where we were at first, rocks started falling on our heads because we were on the ledge of a cliff and there was an overhang above us. We thought it was going to collapse, so we decided to shimmy underneath through little cracks in the wall just to get to the other side so we didn’t have a cliff hanging over our heads. It was a bad situation and we think the recent earthquakes caused the rocks to loosen up.”

Contact reporter Selwyn Harris at sharris@pvtimes.com. On Twitter: @pvtimes

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