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(Posted 10 a.m., Dec. 16)
Local gym owner survives harrowing experience on NY mountain
By Fred Sherwin
OrleansOnline.ca

180 Degree Fitness owner Adrian Delorey was all smiles before he began his ascent of Algonquin Peak in upstate New York. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Canotek Park gym owner Adrian Delorey is happy to be alive after surviving a harrowing experience on the second highest peak in the state of New York.

The owner of 180 Degree Fitness had planned to climb Algonquin Peak in the Adirondacks on Dec. 9 as a warm up for a future trip to Mt. Danali next summer.

In preparation for the Adirondack climb he bought a slew of equipment including a portable power source for his cell phone and a compass. Unfortunately, as things would turnout, he never bothered to acquaint himself with his new gear, especially the compass.

The climb was supposed to be a fairly simple three and a half hour assent and then another three and a half hours back down the mountain to his car.

Things started out well enough. The weather at the bottom of the trail was sunny and calm and the first three-hour hike through the tree line was relatively uneventful.

It wasn’t until he crossed paths with a couple of climbers who had decided to turn around before making the submit due to high winds, that he started to have second thoughts.

“But then I met two more climbers who were heading back down who said it was pretty windy, but they still managed to make the submit,” explains Delorey, whose confidence was renewed by the second encounter.

It wasn’t until he exited the treeline and began the final ascent up the rock face that he realized the challenge ahead of him. The gale force winds had created knee deep drifts across the path, which severely limited his mobility.

“At one point I took a misstep and fell into a hole about three feet deep,” recalls Delorey safe and sound in his Canotek Park gym. “I was still wearing my crampons which turned out to be useless in the snow, so I switched to my snowshoes.”

After extricating himself from the crevice, Delorey eventually made it to the submit, but what is normally a 30-minute climb from the treeline to the top of the mountain had turned into an hour of tough slogging.

With dusk fast approaching, Delorey gave himself a few minutes to enjoy the view before starting his descent. It didn’t take very long for him to realize that getting off the mountain would be a lot more challenging than climbing up it.

“The wind and the snow had completely wiped out my tracks and covered the trail,” says Delorey, “and it was starting to get dark real quick.”

As the conditions worsened and with visibility deteriorating by the minute, the confidence that usually comes naturally to the successful personal trainer and entrepreneur began to deteriorate as well.

“I’m not lying. I started to get pretty scared,” admits Delorey.

A member of the N.Y. Forest Ranger Service (left) gives Delorey some food after making it back to the cover of the treeline. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Lost, cold and with darkness having descended on the mountain, he decided discretion was the better part of valour and called 9-1-1.

“My phone was dying and I wanted to call 9-1-1 while they still could pinpoint where I was using my GPS,” says Delorey.

The 9-1-1 operator transferred the call to the New York Forest Ranger Service which tried to direct him back to the path and the treeline using the compass he had bought. The only problem is that the compass had a design flaw that made reading the directions practically impossible.

The other more pressing issue was his phone. It wasn’t taking a charge from the portable power source because the cord had frozen.

The Forest Ranger dispatcher stayed on the phone with Delorey until it eventually died at 7:30 p.m. He would have to wait another two hours before they eventually found him, thanks to a set of strobe lights he had activated on the portable battery pack.

“I was pretty relived to say the least,” says Delorey.

The Forest Rangers helped guide him back to the tree line under his own power and after taking on some fluids and energy bars, they brought him down to the parking lot. It wasn’t until he got back to his hotel that he whole experience began to sink.

“It was rough. I went through every emotion you can imagine,” says Delorey. “from frustration and anger to fear and panic. It was a constant battle with my own mindset which I teach all the time.”

To say the ordeal was a humbling experience for the usually self-assured Delorey is an understatement, but it was also a learning experience from which he has gained a tremendous amount of personal growth.

“It won’t deter me from other chal-lenges, but I’ll be 100 per cent more prepared and not so naive to think I can do it on my own again,” says Delorey. “It was a very humbling and powerful experience that I will never forget.”

(This story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local business partners.)

 

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