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Montevideo Mother And Son Get Stranded On Colorado Mountainside, Survive Night Of Bitter Cold Temperatures

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) - A Montevideo mother and son are counting their blessings after they got stranded overnight on a mountainside.

"It's very beautiful. You go out there to see the mountains and it's very surreal," said 16-year-old Soren Nelson.

Soren and his mom Heather Nelson are no strangers to the Colorado mountains. Sunday was the last day of a snowmobile trip, and they decided to make one more pass before heading home.

"We just planned on going in and out. Riding out of the lodge," said Heather Nelson. "I didn't consider it super dangerous or aggressive in terms of technicality."

But trouble started when Nelson's sled got hung up in a ravine. She hopped on Soren's sled and they started following what they thought were tracks back to the lodge. Unfortunately, the tracks led them to a creek bed where Soren's sled got stuck.

"All the sudden it's like huh, I don't think we are going to get out of here tonight. Let's not panic. To be honest, I was a little panicky," said Heather Nelson.

Soren and Heather Nelson
Soren and Heather Nelson (credit: The Nelsons)

The two were sweating from trying to pull the sled out and from walking through snow that was waist-deep. As night fell and the temperature dropped, the cold became a real concern.

"I had faith in my mom that she knew what to do," said Soren.

They didn't have cell phone service and Heather was mad at herself for not bringing a fire starter. What they did have was food, water, each other, and . . . an idea.

"Obviously digging a hole in the side of the mountain was the best possible scenario just to get out of the elements a little bit," said Heather Nelson.

They lined their handmade cave with pine boughs and backpacks so they wouldn't have to lay directly on the snow. They settled in there for 10 hours.

The temperature dropped to around 10 degrees above zero. As they hunkered down they refused to look at the clock. Instead, they focused on staying warm. Finally, as dawn broke they crawled out and began to walk.

"We saw a helicopter looking for us. We tried to wave them down but they never did see us," said Soren.

But a short time later search and rescue found them. Other than altitude sickness and dehydration, mother and son were okay. They believe they survived because of each other.

"We both think that if we had been alone and hadn't been together, this would've been a totally different story," said Heather Nelson.

Heather's boyfriend Austin, who was also on the trip, said he contacted search and rescue when the two weren't back by dark.

Heather and Soren wanted to thank Colorado Search and Rescue and everyone else who helped look for them.


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