20-Year-Old Hiker Missing in Frigid Subzero Temperatures Two Days After Embarking on Solo Hike

by Taylor Cunningham

Authorities are on the hunt for a missing 20-year-old hiker who vanished in sub-zero wind chills over two days ago.

Emily Sotelo was dropped off at Lafayette Place Campground in Franconia, New Hampshire, by her mother around 5 on Sunday morning (Nov. 20). She was planning on trekking Mount Lafayette, Haystack, and Flume in the White Mountains, according to the New Hampshire Fish and Game Law Enforcement Division.

Sotelo never returned from her hike, however. And authorities are now considering her “overdue.” They’re asking anyone who may have seen her along her route to “notify NH State Police Dispatch at (603)271-1170.”

“Sotelo is described as 5’3, 115 lbs, brown hair, blue eyes,” the post describes. “She was last seen wearing a brown jacket, and exercise pants.”

Three crews with the Pemigewasset Valley Search and Rescue Team headed out on Sunday night when she didn’t return because the “temperature along the ridge [where she was hiking was] about zero.” There were also 30 to 40 mph winds and a “chill factor of -30 degrees.”

By Monday night, crews still found no trace of the missing hiker. In a statement, Pemigewasset Valley Search and Rescue Team said that it had “over 60″ people combing her planned route, which can reach elevations of 5,000 feet. It also has air support and incident command, representing multiple governmental agencies and NH SAR teams” on the scene.

“[We] wish we had good news to report, but there is no news,” the team shared. “The missing hiker has not been located as of 5:00 pm EST … we will all be out again tomorrow.”

Missing Hiker is an Experienced Primitive Camper

Colonel Kevin Jordan with the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department said that around 20 search teams that include both staff and volunteers, were looking for the young woman. And he admits that while it’s “a challenging place to find people,” he still hopeful that Sotelo will turn up alive.

“We still hang onto hope,” he said. “The good news is, the trail system is probably the most popular one in that section. There’s a lot of foot traffic there year-round.”

Her mother noted that Sotelo was not dressed for the overnight conditions she had to endure. However, the family is hopeful that “she was able to build a shelter.”

Officials are concerned that she wasn’t traveling with the equipment necessary to start a fire or build a shelter. Her father, Jorge, said that she had done primitive camping before, but she has no experience camping in winter conditions.

“Emily loves the outdoors,” he said.

“She was an experienced hiker for summer conditions,” her mother, Olivera, added. “Not so much in winter.”