A troop of Boy Scouts hiking in Colorado's San Juan Mountains was rescued Wednesday after becoming stuck in deep snow on an ice field, authorities said.
The group of 36 kids and seven adults were reported to be "cold, wet and tired" but were in good enough spirits that they decided to continue on their way after being escorted back to a trailhead in the Red Mountain Pass area of the mountains, Ouray County spokesperson Marti Whitmore said.
"We’ve had a very wet rainy spring, but up in the mountains, at that elevation it’s really snowy," Whitmore said. With recent days of warmer temperatures, some of that snow melted and turned to ice, she said. "It can make traversing that area very difficult and deep."
The group of hikers from Arizona sent a distress signal on Wednesday morning and the the Ouray County Sheriff’s Office was contacted at around 7 a.m. local time with a request to help the stranded Scouts, who were stranded in Richmond Pass at an elevation 12,300 feet.
A first rescue team found a dirt road leading up to the pass blocked by snow, but a second team taking a different approach used a paved road to reach a trailhead and free the group at around 10:30 a.m., Whitmore said.
"The scouts had apparently been hiking and camping in the area for a few days,” the county said in a statement. Only very minor injuries were reported, and the group was led back to the trailhead where they continued on their way, Whitmore said.
The Red Mountain Pass area, located between Ouray and Silverton in the southwestern part of the state, is popular with snow-shoers and cross-country skiers, Whitmore said.
"Most years we don’t have quite that much snow up there," she said.