80-year-old survives night stranded in snowstorm

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LAKE TAHOE (KOVR) — It is a survival story for the ages. 80-year-old Wendel Murdock spent a terrifying night trapped alone on a mountain in a Sierra snowstorm.

“I said many times, ‘I can do this, I can do this,’” Murdock said.

Murdock was only supposed to be snowshoe hiking for an hour when he got turned around in a storm on a Sierra trail and one hour turned to two, and then three.

“The light started changing, and I’m starting to think, ‘I don’t know which way to go from here,’” Murdock said.

As darkness set in, he called the sheriff’s department for help and saw his cell phone was nearly dead.

“My phone only had 6 or 7 minutes left on it,” Murdock said.

Murdock, dressed in jeans and a parka, says he chose to stay in the same place where he placed the call for help.

Still, he knew he needed to move to keep his circulation flowing in the freezing temperatures.

“I packed out about a 25 or 30-foot little path, and when I wasn’t standing shivering, I was walking kind of slowly jogging,” Murdock said. “I still had my snowshoes on.”

Surrounded by darkness into the overnight hours with no food until he felt something in his pocket.

“I had four or five little dog treats,” Murdock said. “It had probably been in there a long time. So I thought ok, (motions eating). They were dry. It was like sawdust.”

Murdock spit them out but he says he did eat some snow to stay hydrated. Finally, after standing up in deep snow and freezing temperatures all night, daylight arrived and Murdock saw a helicopter overhead.

“I’m waving frantically and I see an arm stick out the side of the chopper and I think, ‘they saw me,’” Murdock said.

A search and rescue crew located Murdock after a night in a snowstorm alone on a mountain.

“I survived,” Murdock said.

This experience isn’t discouraging Murdock from his life as an outdoorsman. He says he’s already been snowshoeing and mountain biking since the rescue earlier this month.

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