MOUNT WASHINGTON, N.H. (AP) – Two Massachusetts hikers lost the trail in a whiteout on Mount Washington, but did not lose their lives, because they were prepared to deal with the changing weather.

Daniel Molloy, 51, of East Sandwich, and Nilton Motta, 31, of Plymouth, had planned a day hike to the summit on Sunday. By 4 p.m., they were caught in a whiteout somewhere above treeline. Blinded by driving snow, they lost the trail and found themselves slogging through brush and snowdrifts.

Eventually, they dug a deep hole in the snow and hunkered down, using extra gear and broken branches to insulate themselves from temperatures near zero and winds near 70 mph. At dawn Monday, they got their bearings and hiked off the mountain as searchers began looking for them, Fish and Game Officer Mark Ober said.

Molloy said until they got into the hole and out of the wind, he was concerned about his hiking partner.

“He went into what looked to me like hypothermia,” Molloy told WGIR radio. “He was shivering and a little bit despondent.”

Molloy dug their shelter with a pan they had intended to use to make some cappuccino at the summit.

Ober said neither man needed any medical help because they were prepared with extra gear and clothing, as well as food, water, lights, a cooking stove and climbing gear.

“Being prepared with good gear and basic survival knowledge, these men were able to spend a night in inhospitable conditions and come out of the situation with no more than a chill,” he said.

Molloy said the sudden snowstorm was unpredictable and unexpected.

“We were in the wrong place at the wrong time with the weather,” he said.

AP-ES-02-05-08 1444EST


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