Tourist rescued from Mauna Loa, survives two days in coldUPDATED 7:36 PM HST Jan 30, 2014Video Transcript
Good evening, I'm Paula Akana. And I'm Yunji De Nies. A hiker stranded on Mauna Loa on the Big Island waged a 2-day battle with the elements... And WON! It's a KITV-4 exclusive interview. Andrew Pereira joins us with more on this story of survival. Andrew? Yunji, Paula... Alex Sverdlov has been hiking most of his life, but a quick moving storm on Mauna Loa almost did him in. mauna loa snow vid in cherry 6pm bin At 13,677 feet above sea level... Mauna Loa is both beautiful and foreboding. As this time-lapse video shows ... The weather can turn on you in an instant.. bringing freezing temperatures, white outs and altitude sickness. On Sunday, 36-year-old Alex Sverdlov of New York was about to find out during his 18-mile trek to the volcano's summit. When Sverdlov began hiking back down Mauna Loa late Tuesday afternoon, a snow storm moved in with high winds... creating white- out conditions. ALEX SVERDLOV: "IT WENT FROM LIKE BARELY DRIZZLING SNOW TO LIKE MAYBE TWO FEET OF SNOW WITHIN LIKE LITERALLY AN HOUR." Sverdlov couldn't get cell phone reception... And was resigned to spending a cold, miserable Tuesday night on the mountain. ALEX SVERDLOV: "THE FIRST NIGHT I ESSENTIALLY JUST... WITH ALL THE CLOTHING ON MY BACK, I JUST SLEPT IN THE SNOW. I WAS SHIVERING ALL NIGHT, BUT I DIDN'T DIE SO IT'S GOOD GEAR." On Wednesday, Sverdlov located his backpack about two miles down the volcano, but snow up to his waist prevented him from getting all the way down. He spent another night in the cold and snow. ALEX SVERDLOV: "THE SECOND NIGHT I HAD MY SLEEPING BAG. SO, I DID THE SAME THING EXCEPT IN THE SLEEPING BAG, AND IT WAS WARMING IN THE SLEEPING BAG." Park Ranger John Broward knew Sverdlov might be in trouble after finding his car on Mauna Loa Road Wednesday afternoon. A rescue mission launched Thursday morning, and by 9 a.m., a helicopter spotted the stranded hiker. JOHN BROWARD: "WE JUST FOLLOWED THE TRAIL ALL THE WAY UP TO THE SUMMIT AND WE FOUND HIM JUST BELOW THE SUMMIT. HE JUST GAVE ME A BIG HUG AND SAID, 'THANK YOU,' YOU KNOW" ALEX SVERDLOV: "OH, THAT WAS THE BEST MOMENT OF MY LIFE. ESSENTIALLY, IF I HAD TO WALK DOWN, I PROBABLY WOULD OF MADE IT, BUT IT WOULD'VE BEEN ANOTHER THREE OR FOUR DAYS, AND THOSE WOULD'VE BEEN A HORRIBLE, HORRIBLE THREE OR FOUR DAYS." Sverdlov's face is sun-burned and wind-whipped, but he's undeterred by his near- death experience. The native of Brooklyn applied for another hiking permit for the park's remote coastal area. Sverdlov said this time he's going to the "sunny part of the park."