Arizona hiker nearly dies trying to earn a free pizza

A hiker in Arizona recently found himself suffering from “mild stages” of hypothermia after embarking on a quest for free pizza.

The 30-year-old man, who has not been named, was taking part in a contest organized by Pizzicletta pizzeria in Flagstaff, Ariz., which had challenged patrons to meet at a peak on nearby Mount Elden in exchange for a “golden ticket” worth one free pie.

But during his trek to the top on Tuesday morning, the hiker, who was reportedly wearing only shorts and a tank top, found himself stuck near the snowy summit, reports AZCentral.

“We never want anyone to risk their life for pizza,” said Caleb Schiff, the owner of Pizzicletta, in a phone call to KPNX-TV. “It’s certainly not worth it.”


Schiff says he originally issued the challenge as a way to encourage patrons to lead healthy, active lifestyles, but hoped that his contestants would be wary of the changing weather conditions and prepare themselves accordingly.

“In truth, what we really want is people to make great decisions about their health and be active,” Schiff said.

But according to the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office, the 30-year-old hiker raced to the summit despite heavy snow conditions.

"The weather at the time was moderate to heavy snow, with approximately 3 to 5 inches of snow on the ground," the Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.

Schiff, who was also climbing the mountain, admitted that the storm “escalated pretty quickly,” but made it to the top with a separate group.

By 9 a.m., the hiker had called for assistance, and an employee with the U.S. Forest Service retrieved the man and brought him inside a lookout tower.

Sgt. Aaron Dick, the search and rescue coordinator for the Sheriff’s Office, also confirmed to KPNX that the hiker was “shivering heavily and probably at mild stages of hypothermia.”

The man was later escorted home by a friend after warming up, authorities say.


As evidenced by the pizzeria’s Instagram account, Schiff has continued to stage his contest in the days following the incident. (There were at least six different opportunities to participate in the challenges.) That said, he’s quick to caution participants on taking the correct safety precautions.

“We always encourage people to not get in over their heads, to make smart decisions,” said Schiff.