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Rescuers get hikers ‘out of a pickle’

SHARE Rescuers get hikers ‘out of a pickle’
Marc Thompson hugs his son, Taylor, after Taylor and three others were rescued from Mount Olympus.

Marc Thompson hugs his son, Taylor, after Taylor and three others were rescued from Mount Olympus.

Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News

Marc Thompson sent his son a text message just after 5 p.m. Sunday to find out when he should pick up Taylor and his friends after an afternoon hike. The reply he got back was "not sure yet — we're trying to work ourselves out of a pickle."

Taylor Thompson, 21, had planned to hike near Mount Olympus Sunday with his friend Zach Hatch, 20, and roommates Justin Casteel, 22 and Brent Tello, 21.

They started out at the Neff's Canyon trailhead Sunday about noon and had made arrangements for Taylor's father to pick them up on Wasatch Boulevard. Instead, they spent the night in a crevice and were rescued from the mountain by Salt Lake County Search and Rescue.

"We're not sure how they got up there, but they were in a bad spot," said Salt Lake County Sheriff's Lt. Brent Atkinson.

Thompson said the young men had taken a wrong turn somewhere along the way and then tried to recover. However, they ended up in an area where they could no longer go up but couldn't go down either.

Atkinson said the call went in to dispatch about 8 p.m. A Department of Public Safety helicopter flew into the area to look for them. Using infrared equipment and the LED light from Casteel's cell phone, the hikers' location was spotted by search teams at the trailhead, and a rescue team started out on foot.

With all their skill and expertise, it took nearly two hours for them to hike in to where the young men were waiting.

"There was not an established trail there," said Atkinson.

By 1:30 a.m., the search team was within about 250 feet of the crevice where the boys had found shelter. Although they were within voice range, rescuers made the decision to camp there overnight because it was simply too dangerous to bring them down in the dark.

"I spent the night staring at the mountain," said Taylor's father.

On Monday morning, each of the hikers was rappelled down the mountain and then they walked the remainder of the way. They were hot and tired, and anxious for showers, but uninjured.

Casteel said this experience would not keep them from trying again.

"I'd definitely do it again but do it right," he said.

Taylor and his friends had not gone entirely unprepared. They all packed sandwiches and about a gallon of water for each of them. Casteel even carried a small bag of dog food for his dog, who joined them on the hike.

E-mail: amacavinta@desnews.com