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Nearly 200 stranded on mountaintop overnight

10:16 PM, Nov 26, 2011   |    comments
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Most people who were stuck were only banking on having dinner up there, not spending the night, which means many didn't have things like medications, heavy cold weather clothes, or snacks to eat.

Carolina Vega-Neff said she never expected to go through such an ordeal. She had been planning on having a holiday meal with her kids and their friends, the youngest being two years old.

"The kids were super excited. It was a beautiful day," she said. "We headed up there, had a nice dinner, and half an hour before we were done saw the wind pick up outside."

The wind only got worse from that point.

"It was snowing a little bit and we found out that the gondola had been shut down," Vega-Neff said.

She said it took a while for reality to set in.

"We weren't really worried," she said. " The kids thought this is fun - you always want to get snowed-in so I think they were super excited at first, doing board games, talking to people."

But then she said minutes started turning into hours.

"I think people just kinda started coming together to figure out who had Tylenol, little things you don't think of," Vega-Neff said.

Jim Blumenthal, another stranded guest, said trying to sleep was nearly impossible.

"People put chairs together and tried to sleep on chairs, some people sleeping on the floors, and they did have some blankets that they handed out," he said. "Come 5 o'clock, the wind was still howling and they had no idea what they were going to do."

But sometime in the early morning the winds started to die down.

"They put us on the gondolas roughly a little after 6 a.m. and we were on one of the first gondolas down," he said.

Only after multiple trips was everyone off the mountain , most heading home exhausted and frustrated - but with a story to tell, and a lesson learned.

"Always be prepared 'cause you don't always know," Vega-Neff said.

In a statement, representatives from Keystone Resort said "We would like to apologize for any inconvenience and thank everyone for their patience and understanding. We are very thankful that everyone is safe."

They also said all of the guests were provided with blankets, and food and water to last the night. Representatives from the resort also said they weren't able to send Snowcats or other vehicles up the mountain because visibility was so bad.

Vega-Neff said she was contacted by Keystone on Saturday and was told the resort is currently working on a way to compensate all of the people who were stranded.

(KUSA-TV © 2011 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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