Dillon resident Kelsey Malin was skiing at Monarch Ski Area for the first time on Jan. 25 when she and her friend made a fateful decision: Without ducking a rope or seeing any sign that they were leaving the ski area, she said, they dropped into a powder stash on the back side of the mountain.
What followed was a grueling 52 hours lost in the wilderness with no survival gear, food or water. When the pair was finally rescued, they were delirious with hypothermia and severely frostbitten but had managed to survive two nights of subzero temperatures by huddling in snow caves.
Help eventually found them, when a backcountry skier stumbled upon Malin’s friend and alerted rescuers. Ski patrol soon arrived in a snowcat and took them to a hospital in Salida, where they were initially told they would lose their toes and possibly parts of their feet.
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