LAS CRUCES, N.M. (NewsNation Now) — Twenty-four hikers were rescued by multiple New Mexico law enforcement agencies after they became stranded in the Organ Mountains.
According to the Las Cruces Fire Department, the hikers were attempting to climb The Needle, a challenging ascent in the Organ Mountains.
Since the hikers ranged in age and experience, some members fell behind during the climb, separating into smaller groups. Some groups took different trails, further splintering the hikers and they couldn’t reconnect.
The hikers, originally from El Paso, Texas, began at 4 a.m. Sunday morning and were stranded once the sun set that night.
Several organizations came to the hikers’ aid, including Las Cruces Fire Department’s Technical Rescue Team, Mesilla Valley Search and Rescue, the Dona Ana County Sheriff’s Office and the New Mexico State Police. The groups started searching for the hikers after receiving several 911 calls from them.
Only one woman had injuries that required her to be transported off the mountain. She was eventually carried off in a “Stokes basket,” according to Las Cruces fire officials. The 47-year-old woman’s injuries were not life-threatening, officials said.
The other hikers were located over time and escorted off the mountain with minor injuries including scrapes, bruises and minor dehydration.
Las Cruces fire officials provided several tips for all hikers attempting to climb any mountains this summer:
- Know your capabilities and the terrain for which you will be hiking.
- Plan your trek carefully and take into consideration weather reports, the expected duration of your trek and other conditions which may be faced during your adventure.
- Never hike or backpack alone.
- Keep groups together unless it’s absolutely necessary to separate.
- Follow all signage and refrain from straying from established trails.
- Carry a fully charged cellular or satellite phone in case of an emergency. Avoid depleting a cell phone’s battery by overusing the camera function.
- Carry a flashlight and extra batteries.
- Tell a friend or relative where you are going and when you expect to return. If you have not returned by the designated time, they should know to contact authorities.
- Take plenty of water and food to sustain you during the trek.
- Keep in mind, warm daytime temperatures and relatively high elevations expend energy quickly.
- Wear proper attire for the trek. It’s best to dress in layers that can be easily removed – or added – depending on conditions.
- Wear a hat or proper head covering.
- Wear boots or hiking shoes that are comfortable and suitable for the terrain to be covered.
- Be aware of changing weather conditions and the potential for flash floods from rains that occur upstream from your location.
- Beware of snakes that are more active during warmer weather and as daytime temperatures rise. Snakebite victims should seek help immediately.
- Beware of wild animals that are known to frequent the Organ Mountains and other areas nearby: bobcats, mountain lions, coyotes, foxes, deer and African oryx. Never approach or attempt to handle a wild animal.
- If hiking with a dog, take into consideration its needs and safety requirements for the trek.
- Dispose of waste properly and use the “Pack it In, Pack it Out” motto to help keep wild areas pristine.
The fire department said that they have engaged in three rescue mission in the Organ Mountains so far this year.