Hiker Rescued From Icy Pacific Crest Trail, Treated for Hypothermia

by Caitlin Berard
(Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)

For long-distance hikers, the Pacific Crest Trail is the pinnacle, the crowning achievement of a life spent experiencing every wonder the great outdoors has to offer. Stretching 2,650 miles in length, thru-hiking this formidable trail takes an average of five months, or the entire snow-free season.

Because of this, planning your PCT trek down to the day is absolutely essential. If a hiker fails to complete the mammoth trail within 6 months, freezing to death in the wilderness becomes a distinct possibility.

The first winter storms can bury the trail beneath feet of snow as early as late September. By October, trail conditions become treacherous at best and can even be deadly, especially for those without the proper equipment.

This is the terrifying situation Hassan Falsafi found himself in on Friday evening (October 21). The 57-year-old Pacific Crest Trail thru-hiker got caught in inclement weather on the trail in the Diamond Peak Wilderness.

At first, Falsafi thought he could wait out the storm. Before he knew it, however, his clothes, sleeping bag, and his entire pack of supplies were soaked through with rain.

To make matters worse, it was a mere 36 degrees outside and temperatures were only continuing to drop as the night wore on. At 10 p.m., the hiker realized he could wait no longer, recognizing the symptoms of hypothermia, and dialed 911.

Emergency services first contacted Klamath County Search and Rescue. Unfortunately, however, they didn’t have the resources available to assist the hiker. KCSR then reached out to Douglas County Search and Rescue, who set off immediately toward the trail.

Rescue Crew Successfully Saves Frozen Pacific Crest Trail Hiker

After arriving at the Pacific Crest Trail’s Summit Lake entrance, they began hiking north toward Falsafi’s location. Rescuers knew the clock was already ticking, but the situation became even more urgent when the rain turned to sleet, which became hail, and eventually a full-blown snowstorm.

In the time it took to reach the freezing hiker, temperatures dropped another 6 degrees, officially plunging the forest below freezing. As rescuers fought their way toward Hassan Falsafi, the storm grew in strength, coating the ground with close to an inch of snow in just twenty minutes.

With little time to spare, rescuers finally arrived at Falsafi’s location at approximately 4:15 a.m. on Saturday morning (October 22).

The stranded hiker was found to be suffering from moderate hypothermia, meaning his body temperature had dropped below 90 degrees. At this stage, he was likely experiencing a decline in his breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, and reflexes as well.

Douglas County Search and Rescue were able to treat the hiker for hypothermia on-site. They first gave him dry clothing and helped warm him. Once his conditions had improved enough to move him, rescuers helped him to a warm vehicle. From there, he was transported to Roseburg to await his family.