Rescuers pluck hikers off 14er |

Rescuers pluck hikers off 14er

Steve Lynn
Vail correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
Mike Snapper, father and stepfather of two men who were stranded on Mount of the Holy Cross, waits with members of the Vail Mountain Rescue Group near Minturn while his sons were being rescued Monday. (Kristin Anderson/Vail Daily)

EAGLE COUNTY – Two men who were stranded on a ridge on Mount of the Holy Cross were rescued Monday night, authorities said.

A helicopter reportedly flew to the 14,005-foot peak’s summit, from which rescuers climbed down to the men.

Rescuers and the men hiked up to the helicopter and flew to a parking lot north of Minturn where the men’s father was waiting, said Greg Burkhardt, of the Vail Mountain Rescue Group.

“It was pretty emotional at first, but once (the father) knew everything was going to be OK, it was OK,” Burkhardt said.

Jeff Snapper, 28, and Adam Van Essen, 23, started their hike at about 6 a.m. Monday and called 911 on a cell phone at about noon saying they were at a point where they could not descend or ascend the mountain, authorities said.

The men lost the Half Moon Trail, which leads to the summit of the peak, and got stranded on a rocky ridge in the southeast portion of the Angel Couloir, authorities said.

The two stepbrothers, on vacation from Michigan, were uninjured.

“They just got very scared,” Burkhardt said.

They were tired and unprepared for an overnight stay on the mountain, according to Sgt. Greg Daly of the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office.

Rescuers could have spent hours in the dark searching for the men, but the Colorado Air National Guard helicopter sped up the operation, Burkhardt said.

“Everything went right,” he said.

Authorities also were considering having rescuers hike down the mountain with the men or having the men stay on the mountain overnight, Daly said.