Two teensFamily and friends welcomed two teen-age boys with pupus and drinks at Kuliouou Neighborhood Park yesterday afternoon after the boys were plucked by a rescue helicopter from the Kuliouou mountains.
Firefighters collect the boys,
who spent Sunday night
atop Kuliouou Ridge
By Janine Tully
Alan Morrow and Chris Lee, both 17 and students at Waldorf High School, were reported to be in good condition after spending Sunday night shivering on a mountain ridge.
The teen-agers left Sunday about 8 a.m. for a day hike along Kuliouou Ridge Trail but got into trouble when they went off the beaten path, and Morrow slipped nearly 20 feet down a steep ravine while holding on to a rope. The rope caused cuts and blisters in his hands, making it impossible for him to climb up the mountain.
"We could not hike back," Morrow said. The blisters were painful, but in that situation, "you don't think about the pain," he said.
The boys, both experienced hikers, had wanted to get a closer look at the waterfalls flowing down into the valley but were not prepared for the steep 300-foot drop they encountered. "We knew we couldn't continue," Lee said.
The teen-agers, who had rappeled down the slope, tried to climb back to the ridge, but that was when Morrow slipped. By then, it was getting dark and they knew they were not going to make it home by dusk.
Instead, they decided to find a comfortable spot to spend the night and use Lee's cellular phone to call his mother.
Lee couldn't get a signal, so he decided to climb to the ridge for a better connection.
"This was the scariest part of all," Lee said. "It was pitch black, even though I had a head lamp on."
Lee managed to climb to the ridge and call his mother, who had been waiting by the phone, at 6:30 p.m. He told his mother they couldn't get off the mountain and that Morrow's hands were hurting, but that they would try to find their way down in the morning.
The boys huddled together under an emergency blanket that retains body heat. At one point during the night, Morrow's watch registered 46 degrees, Lee said. "It was cold," he said.
Barbara Lee, a teacher at Waldorf, waited the following day to get a call. By 11 a.m., she got worried and called Nigel Lumsden, a fellow teacher and friend who knows the trail well.
Lumsden volunteered to go look for the boys, but also recommended she call the Fire Department's search and rescue.
Two engines, a helicopter and 12 firefighters were involved in the search operation, which took about 2 hours.
Pilot Erik Iwanaga spotted the boys at the top of a ridge. Gusty winds made the rescue challenging, said Iwanaga, who first dropped off two rescue specialists to help lift the boys.
"We probably could have come down ourselves," Morrow said. "But we were very glad to have the ride down."
Fire Department spokesman Capt. Richard Soo said he's glad the boys escaped harm, but he recommends not leaving marked trails.
"The boys put themselves in a precarious situation by deviating from the trail," Soo said. "It's lucky that the boy didn't slip down the 300-foot waterfall."