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Search for 2 missing hikers hampered by Colo. floods

1:30 PM, Sep 13, 2013   |    comments
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Two Maine women who desperately pleaded for help from atop Colorado's Long Peak early Thursday remain stranded Friday. Search and rescue operations were hampered by flooding and stormy weather conditions.

Suzanne Turell and Connie Yang were last heard from at about 7 a.m. Thursday, when Turell tweeted "we need help. at the top of longs peak.' Turell, who also tweeted her coordinates, said the couple were not injured, but icy conditions put them at risk of hypothermia. Their cellphone battery went dead minutes later.

The York, Maine, couple was socked at the 13,400-foot level by snowy, icy conditions on the south ridge of Long's Peak in Rocky Mountain National Park. Rescue efforts have been hampered by flooded roads and stormy weather conditions, said Mike Sullivan, vice president of NEMO Equipment, a New Hampshire-based camping and outdoor gear manufacturer where Yang and Turell work.

Park officials could not be reached Friday morning but have told Sullivan -- frustrated by the lack of rescue efforts -- that they planned a rescue mission for Friday morning. Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith says telephone and cell service to Estes Park remains down.

Yang and Turell, both NEMO designers, were among the first employees among a tight-knit, 21-employee company, spokeswoman Kate Ketscheck says.

"They're very experienced back country travelers,'' Ketscheck says. "They wouldn't have called for help if they didn't need it."

It's possible that the stranded couple could have begun hiking down Long's Peak Friday morning, she said.

Turell's mother, Barbara, told USA TODAY that her daughter, a graduate of Princeton University, was supposed to return from her trip Friday.

"Sh's been hiking since she was a tiny little girl -- the Pacific Crest Trail, the Appalachian Trail, New Zealand," Barbara Turell says. "She's in good condition. If they could make headway down the mountain, they could have left."

USA Today

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