Rescuers find Appalachian Trail hiker stuck in waist-deep snow inside Smoky Mountains

·2 min read

A California man lost in heavy snow along the Appalachian Trail had to be rescued from a remote spot inside Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

It happened Tuesday, Jan. 18, and the hiker was identified as Andrew Burtzloff, 28, of San Diego, according to the National Park Service.

The Tennessee Army National Guard found him in a ravine, standing “in waist deep snow,” officials said in a release.

Burtzloff was showing symptoms of hypothermia when a UH60 Army Blackhawk helicopter transported him from the ravine to a Tennessee hospital.

Park officials say they learned at 8:20 a.m. Tuesday that the hiker “had become disoriented and lost while hiking along the Appalachian Trail due to heavy snow.”

The hiker was found waist-deep in snow at a spot off the Appalachian Trail.
The hiker was found waist-deep in snow at a spot off the Appalachian Trail.

Mountains along the Tennessee-North Carolina border saw as much as 20.5 inches of snow over the weekend. Great Smoky Mountains National Park says as much as 18 inches fell there, forcing rangers to close major roads “due to hazardous conditions.” Backpackers were alerted as the storm front approached.

“The park developed a search and rescue plan using location data provided from Burtzloff’s cellphone,” officials said. “Data indicated that (Burtzloff) was well off trail, in a ravine, and deep within the park’s backcountry near Gregory Bald.”

Park rangers called in the Tennessee Army National Guard after realizing it would take up to eight hours to reach Burtzloff by ground.

“After a brief search by air, the crew located the stranded hiker in waist deep snow,” the park said.

‘’Unable to land due to trees and terrain, the air crew lowered two medics to the hiker. After receiving initial medical evaluation on the ground, the hiker and two medics were hoisted safely aboard the hovering aircraft.”

Burtzloff was taken to the University of Tennessee Medical Center in nearby Knoxville, officials said.

His condition was not released.

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