A Colorado Springs man has had his legs amputated below the knee after he got lost and suffered extreme frostbite while climbing 14,232-foot Mount Shavano near Salida, CO.
Nick Noland reached the summit of Mount Shavano on Tuesday and began his descent. As daylight started to fade and temperatures were dropping he tried to take a shortcut, leading to him losing the main trail and getting lost.
“My feet had started to go numb. I loosened up the laces on my shoes to free circulation and I didn’t even realize when I lost my first shoe,” he told KDVR. “I was yelling and screaming and trying to listen too, but I never heard any response and couldn’t hear anything,”
Search and rescue teams were deployed, but they could not find Noland.
“My feet were starting to feel like blocks of ice. I did the best I could to protect my hands. Every time I stopped just to wait, my life went away from me. I knew I had to keep moving. I was afraid of what would happen if I stopped,” Noland said.
Somehow he managed to survive the night and made it back to the trailhead around 5 am the following morning. He got to his truck and called 911, where was then taken to the Denver area for treatment. He had suffered major injuries from the freezing temperatures.
He was immediately transported to Denver Burn Unit for severe frostbite on both feet and had both feet amputated. A second surgery will soon remove both legs below the knees because of further damage. Noland’s hands were also burned by the cold, but he expects them to recover. Noland is unsure how long he will remain in the hospital.
According to his wife, Maggie Noland, his survival instinct pushed him to keep fighting.
Despite being an experienced hiker, an Eagle Scout, and an Appalachian Trail thru-hiker, Noland wants his story of survival to be a message of safety for others.
If you plan on hiking make sure you know your trail, that people know where you are heading and you are properly prepared for the weather.