Frozen on the Mountain: Army veteran Kenny Pasten, his dog, Rex, and friend Tiffany Finney were hiking in the San Bernardino National Forest near Big Bear, planning to scale the 11,500-foot summit of San Gorgonio. Pasten brought along a flag he received for being an Honor Guard serviceman that he planned to take photos of at the top. The weather was nice that day, but suddenly the skies turned and the trio was facing whiteout blizzard conditions.
With no trees around, Pasten found a bush and they hurried to dig a foxhole under it. He and Finney snuggled together with Rex and covered themselves with the flag. In the morning, they began to move in an effort to save themselves, despite the fact that Finney was in and out of consciousness, and hoped to get cell reception at the tallest point of the mountain and call for help. Eventually, Pasten was forced to leave Finney, but left Rex next to her to keep her warm.
Pasten took Finney’s phone with him and when he finally made it to the peak, with three percent battery power remaining, had a signal to call 911. Although the rescue helicopter couldn’t see him initially, Pasten sent a desperate text to 911 dispatch with his GPS coordinates just before the phone died.
Once the rescuers found Pasten, they went in search of Finney, who also miraculously survived. The two suffered severe cases of frostbite, and Finney lost a pinky. When a seasoned hiker heard about Pasten’s amazing survival story, he and his father went up the mountain in search of the still frozen flag, and finished Pasten’s mission to get it to the top.
“20/20: In an Instant” is executive produced by Maria Awes and Andy Awes for Committee Films in association with ABC News’ Lincoln Square Productions. Rudy Bednar is executive producer on behalf of Lincoln Square Productions.
Series: In An Instant Season 3 Episode 4
Air Date: Saturday, July 08, 2017
Time Slot: 8:00 PM-10:00 PM EST on ABC