New York City man rescued twice in two days while hiking in Arizona mountains

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A New York City man who needed to be rescued twice on consecutive days while hiking in a northern Arizona mountain range is urging others to pay more attention to winter weather than he did.

“Warning: Unless you are an experienced alpine mountaineer, DO NOT attempt Humphreys Peak in the winter. There is so much snow that it’s difficult to follow the trail and very easy to fall off of it. Moreover, the wind is absolutely brutal,” Phillip Vasto said in an online post.

The 28-year-old Brooklyn man first called 911 at about 7pm last Wednesday to say he had become lost while hiking on Humphreys Trail in the San Francisco Peaks overlooking Flagstaff, Coconino County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.

The statement did not identify Mr Vasto by name but he spoke to the Arizona Daily Sun, telling the newspaper he was an experienced hiker but had underestimated the difficult conditions.

“I was thinking if I start early in the morning, I’ll have all the time in the world to reach the summit,” he said of his second attempt.

Arizona Snowbowl slops
Arizona Snowbowl on the slopes of the San Francisco Peaks near Flagstaff (Alamy/PA)

During the first rescue, tracked vehicles from the ski resort took Mr Vasto off the mountain and he declined medical attention.

But at 5pm the next day, he called 911 to say he needed help after injuring himself in a fall near a ridge on the Humphreys Trail.

An Arizona Department of Public Safety rescue helicopter was sent to pick up Mr Vasto and another hiker who had stopped to help him.

Mr Vasto was “provided with preventative search and rescue education about the conditions on the trail and the approaching winter storm and encouraged to not attempt the hike again”, the Sheriff’s Office statement said.

The other hiker who stopped to help, Phillip Wyatt, said it was “very apparent that he wasn’t prepared for the climate that he had gotten himself into”.

Mr Wyatt decided to stay with Mr Vasto and provided his number to the search and rescue team so that they could make contact in the likely scenario that Mr Vasto’s phone ran out of battery because he had been using it to check his route on a trail locater app.

“I really respect Phil’s perseverance,” Mr Wyatt told the Daily Sun. “I hope that he’s able to make it to the top some time.”

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