Hikers rescued after days stuck on Arizona cliff in frigid conditions

SEDONA, Arizona (KNXV) - It was a daring rescue that took days.

Three hikers were stranded on a mountain in Sedona. No one could get to them because of dangerous conditions.

At one point, even the rescue team had to be rescued.

Before the three hikers from Arkansas were hunkering down in a cave, they were enjoying Sedona.

“We came out here to do some rock climbing, hiking and canyoneering,” Scott Brand said.

But the weather had sneaked up on him, his wife and his best friend.

“As we were getting to the second repel point, the blizzard came in,” Brand said.

They called the sheriff’s office and found cover, “a little alcove to shelter in and sat down and tried to wait it out,” he said.

Air National Guard Helicopter arrives after rescuing stranded hikers in Sedona - Several search and rescue ground teams...

Posted by Yavapai County Sheriff's Office on Wednesday, January 27, 2021

And wait they did.

“We called 911 Sunday at 5:30. And we were rescued Tuesday at around 5,” Brand said.

In those 48 hours, the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office tried to fly supplies with a drone, but a propeller broke.

A rescue crew hiked up, but they also got stuck.

“So they had to send up another team to rescue the rescue team,” Brand said.

The chopper couldn’t fly because of conditions.

“Tuesday was kind of the crunch point. We really needed to either get out of there or have some kind of supplies brought in,” Brand said.

The trio, in their mid-20s, hadn’t eaten since Monday morning. Their feet were freezing.

Phones were dead, hope was dwindling and fear was rapidly rising when they heard the hum of the helicopter.

“They flew over us. I said, ‘Oh no, maybe they didn’t see us.’ But they looped around, and we waved at them again. And the crew chief leaned out and waved down at us. And that was the best feeling in the world. We can’t thank everybody who was involved in this enough,” Brand said.

Scott says next time he visits, he’ll pack extra food and socks. He said he’ll be back, but not during the winter.

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