Rangers come to aid of experienced 46er from South Glens Falls
By Rick Karlin
NORTH HUDSON — State forest rangers say a South Glens Falls woman is lucky to be alive after tumbling hundreds of feet down the side of a snowy Adirondack High Peak, forcing her to spend a harrowing night in freezing rain perched on a ledge until she was rescued.
Rangers learned of the trapped woman at 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 26 and had her call 911 so they could get her location through cellphone coordinates.
It turned out that she was clinging to a small spruce tree above a cliff on South Dix Mountain.
The hiker had grabbed the tree as she slid down a steep rockslide after slipping on ice at the top of the remote peak.
“She quite honestly thought she was going to die,” Ranger Jamison Martin said in a video released by the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
“She was cliffed out,” he added, describing her perch above a steep precipice.
As Martin and another ranger, Andrew Lewis, started the hourslong slog into the Dix Range to find the woman, they instructed her to try to stay warm by making small movements while clinging to the mountain. Temperatures were in the 30s and it was raining — prime hypothermia weather, Martin said.
Luckily, the woman was an experienced hiker: a two-time “46er,” the term for someoe who has ascended all 46 of the Adirondack High Peaks over 4,000 feet high. She was equipped with a “space blanket,” an emergency wrap that one uses if trapped in the outdoors.
Rangers struggled up the mountain amid wet or freezing conditions, fighting rain and wet brush on the peak, which has no marked trail but only “herd paths,” or informal foot paths beaten down by previous climbers.
“We call it ‘car wash,’ ” Martin said of conditions in which hikers can’t avoid getting wet, either from the rain, the brush or from the sweat they generate while climbing.
They reached the woman at 1:30 a.m., gave her warm fluids and dry clothes, and made their way down the mountain, reaching the trailhead at 6:30 a.m.
She had been working on her third round of climbing all 46 peaks, and said she had never experienced a crisis like this.
“She came to the realization that night that she had been lucky all those other times,” Martin said.
While popular, the Dix Range area is remote and challenging, and has trapped or stymied numerous hikers and climbers in the past.
In the summer of 2022, rangers rescued a hiker from Singapore who had spent three days wandering in a nearby area known as Dix Swamp after losing his compass and becoming disoriented. He, too, was an experienced backcountry traveler and bicyclist who was used to physical challenges.
“It’s no joke back there,” said Martin.
Photo at top: Dix Range as seen from Boreas Mountain. Explorer file photo by Phil Brown.