2 hikers rescued from Mt. Adams

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CONCORD, N.H. (AP) – Two hikers were rescued from deadly conditions on New Hampshire’s Mount Adams early Thursday, and an elderly man was found after spending a night lost in the woods in Swanzey.

In the White Mountains, two hikers became disoriented in blinding snow Wednesday afternoon on Mount Adams and called 911, said Fish and Game Lt. Douglas Gralenski. With the hikers’ cell phone dying, Fish and Game determined a general location, then advised the two to hunker down out of the wind and wait for help.

“The temperature bottomed out at 14 below,” Gralenski said. “They were in killer conditions.”

A search team from Fish and Game, the Randolph Mountain Club and Androscoggin Valley Search and Rescue headed out with temperatures dipping below zero and winds blowing at about 70 mph.

They found Wayne Rodriguez, 50, of Westfield, Mass., and Janice Doubleday, 55, of Hiram, Maine, just before 1 a.m., staying warm in a sleeping bag.

“It was a life-threatening situation,” Gralenski said. “They probably would have survived the night, but whether they would have survived the descent down the mountain – that’s an issue we’ll probably never know.”

Gralenski said even though the two were well-equipped, they easily could have fallen victim to hypothermia on their way down, leading to poor decisions and injuries.

The search team hiked with the two to a shelter below tree line, and after some rest and warm food, hiked several hours off the mountain Thursday morning.

Meanwhile, in Swanzey in the southwestern corner of the state, Walter Calkins, 85, suffered mild hypothermia, but otherwise was fine and walking when searchers found him Thursday morning. The search began Wednesday afternoon when he did not return from a hike. Officials believe the layers of clothing Calkins was wearing helped protect him from cold.

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