Two missing hikers back home

June 24, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
The climbers stranded on Mount Shasta over the weekend, returned to the Bay Area on Tuesday. Salvador Frias and Patricia Giamoni stumbled into the Northern California town of Weed around midnight on Monday night, after three days on the mountain.

Sal Frias and Patti Giamoni can't believe they lived to tell their story. On Tuesday night, they returned to the peninsula happy and healthy.

Frias and Giamoni weren't sure they would ever see their loved ones again. The two arrived in Millbrae Tuesday evening after surviving a harrowing ordeal on Mt. Shasta. That's where they faced unexpected, white out conditions, with extremely high winds, and below freezing temperatures.

"Her water bottle, that was the thing that freaked me out the most. Her water bottle that was at her side, the bottle, the whole thing inside turned to ice, in a couple minutes and I go, 'We're going to die, we're going to die up here,'" said Frias.

Frias and Giamoni quickly became disoriented, and the two ended up going down a different, more dangerous path than the one they used to climb up. At one point, the couple called for help on their cell phones, but they were only able to provide partial coordinates before their battery died. They then turned to their GPS device, which they say, ended up saving their lives.

"We saw on the GPS that there were railroad tracks so we were like, 'Okay, we're going to focus and hit the railroad tracks no matter how hard it gets, we're just going to keep going toward the railroad tracks.' And we just did that for days. The hardest part was at nighttime when we had to huddle up and at one point, I think we had to bury her in sand," said Frias.

Frias and Giamoni finally reached those railroad tracks. The two were exhausted, dehydrated and out of water, but they knew they were close to civilization. And a lucky find, a water bottle, helped them in their last leg.

"It was a full bottle and we opened it up, split half and that was enough for inspiration-wise to get us through three to four hours of walking," said Frias.

Frias and Giamoni have known each other since high school, but the two only recently started dating after reconnecting on Facebook. The Mt. Shasta trip marks not only their first date, but Giamoni's last hiking trip.

"Would you climb again?" asked a reporter.
"No. I have my boys and I'm going home to see my boys and that's all that matters right now," said Giamoni.

Giamoni lives in North Carolina, but she says she'll be back in the Bay Area in August to celebrate Frias' birthday, so there will be a second date.


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