This archived article was written by: Bethany M Peyton
For two years, a couple of Utah State University Eastern students could see a peak north of Helper from campus. They could see the peak close to the Balanced Rock area. One of the students imagined the great pictures he could take of the area from the top of the peak.
When the snow melted, they decided to hike to the peak and take pictures of the area. They scouted the area and prepared to camp overnight on top of the peak. Last minute, their plans changed from an overnight trip to a one-day trip which ended up being more than what they anticipated.
They only took minimal gear as they thought they would not be gone for more than a few hours. With no clear trail, they two set off at 1:30 p.m. near the Gigliotti Pond in north Helper.
Many of the ledges they climbed over, they knew they would not be able to get down the same way they got up. They were convinced that there would be another way down and that if they only got higher up the mountain, they could see a better route. Yet, every time they thought they had nearly reached the top, they found that there was still a ways to go. Before too long, they both realized that they were stuck with no way down.
Despite their pickle, they both remained optimistic that they would soon find their way down. When they saw that the sun was setting, panic began to set in. Every escape they attempted held its own risk; possibly greater than remaining where they were. In their endeavors to travel down the mountain, they became bruised and scratched from rocks and branches; cold and wet from snow and puddles. The temperature was falling steadily. They considered many ways of getting down, even fashioning a rope out of some of their clothing.
After about an hour, they called 911and did what they could to help the Carbon County Search and Rescue team find them. Eventually it seemed that the only way to get down was to continue up. At last they reached the top of the peak and waited for the Search and Rescue team, who worked tirelessly to locate the students and get repelling equipment required to complete the rescue.
They yelled to their would be rescuers in the pitch-black night and heard their own echoes which only gave them false hope. Finally, at 1:45 a.m. and 38 degrees, they saw flashlights; the Search and Rescue found them. After two hours, the students repelled to safety. They anticipated a sharp chastening, but the rescuers were only baffled as to how they climbed all the way up to where they had been.
They returned to campus with bumps and bruises, frostbite and nightmares, but they returned home. The students are now attending classes and healing well. The students who wish to remain anonymous, are thankful for the men who rescued them.
One of the students said, “I kept thinking, ‘this isn’t it, it’s not today. I’m not going to die.’ But I was worried that I would lose something, like my feet. My feet were so cold.”
The other student said, “I still think, ‘wow, that looks easy,’” When he gazes at the peak that held them captive, “But it’s so much different when you’re up there…. Take time to plan it and be a good Boy Scout! Always be prepared!…. I know it sounds so stupid and cliche, but it is so true.”