Hawaii Volcanoes National Park rangers said Alex Sverdlov, 36, of New York, was the only registered hiker on Mauna Loa when the mountain was closed to visitors due to the dangerous weather on the summit and lower elevations Tuesday.
Sverdlov, who rangers were unable to reach by phone, said he reached the 13,677-foot summit Tuesday and was unable to locate his heavy gear, which he left at a lower elevation, due to the white-out conditions of the snowstorm. He said he had little choice but to spend the night in the snow with only his clothes and a bottle of frozen water for supplies.
Sverdlov said he was able to locate his pack Wednesday morning, but the weather conditions prevented him from making progress toward getting back down the mountain.
Park Ranger John Broward located Sverdlov before 9 a.m. Thursday during a helicopter search.
"I've done many crazy hikes, but this one pretty much tops the bill," Sverdlov said.
Broward, the park's search-and-rescue coordinator, said he was relieved the incident had a happy ending.
"Even the most experienced and prepared hikers can get into trouble in the park," Broward said. "What saved Alex is that he had a backcountry permit so we knew he was up there, he is extremely fit, and he stayed calm. We're all fortunate this had a happy ending."