Struck by Falling Ice

The victim was skiing in the Ravine, near the Lip, when he was struck on the upper right leg by a chunk of ice. The ice chunk was approximately 2′ wide. He took a sliding fall as a result of being hit by the ice. After being assessed by 2 members of the Mount Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol the victim was able to walk out with assistance.

Broken Ankle

The victim was walking off the porch of the Hermit Lake Shelter on the evening of 3-26-2004 when he rolled his ankle as he stepped on ice. The next morning his ankle was very swollen and his friends reported this to the AMC Caretaker who then contacted a USFS Snow Ranger. The Snow Ranger assessed the ankle, splinted it and transported the victim to Pinkham. His friends transported him to the hospital. He reported that his ankle was broken and required surgery. This accident took 1 person 3 hours.

Lost Climbers

The following is from a press release issued by our office on 3-21-2004: Two climbers who lost their way in white-out conditions above treeline on Mount Washington Saturday were found unharmed Sunday morning as they were descending the Lion Head Trail on the east side of the mountain. KC, 40, of Ottawa, Ontario, and CW, of Arlington, Massachusetts, spent the night in a snow trench covered with their gear and drifting snow while awaiting daylight to continue their search for the trail down the mountain. They had ice-climbed O’dells Gully in Huntington Ravine on Saturday with plans to meet KC’s husband above the ravine on the Alpine Garden and hike back to Pinkham Notch in the afternoon. They did not appear as planned and were reported missing Saturday evening. Temperatures on the Mount Washington summit averaged 14F overnight, with winds peaking at 75 mph. Dan Solari, a meteorologist at the Mount Washington Observatory, noted of Saturday’s afternoon and overnight conditions, “I have never seen worse blowing snow…the freezing fog and falling snow didn’t help either. Visibilities were only about 15 feet or so.” The initial search began late Saturday night with staff from the U.S. Forest Service, Appalachian Mountain Club, and Harvard Mountaineering Club facing darkness, Considerable avalanche danger, and winds gusting to 60 mph. The search resumed early Sunday with about 14 expert winter mountaineers from Androscoggin Valley Search and Rescue, Mountain Rescue Service, and NH State Parks on the mountain, led by three U.S. Forest Snow Rangers. The Mount Washington Observatory’s snowcat transported searchers on the Auto Road, the Appalachian Mountain Club supplied base support from Pinkham Notch, and NH Fish and Game stood on alert to assist if needed. Lead Snow Ranger Chris Joosen of the White Mountain National Forest is gratified to have search and rescue personnel on call when needed. “Most of the searchers today are volunteers who were alerted late last night and were on the ground at first light this morning. We could not do what we do to assist the lost and injured without the expertise and dedication of the local search and rescue community.” A volunteer search team encountered the lost pair on the trail above treeline and accompanied them through steep terrain and drifting snow down the Lion Head Winter Route, and were transported via Forest Service snowcat down the Tuckerman Ravine Trail to Pinkham Notch. Saturday’s mountain forecast called for increasing winds and unstable snow accumulating in the ravines. The daily avalanche advisory posted early in the day by Joosen predicted “Considerable” avalanche danger, approaching “High,” by mid-afternoon, meaning that natural avalanches were possible and human-triggered avalanches were probable. Other climbers reported seeing Churches and Wallace as they climbed, and said that loose snow avalanches were occurring in the Ravine Saturday afternoon.

Climbing Fall

The victim was climbing in O’dells Gully with two others. When on the last pitch of ice his crampon popped off his right foot which caused him to take an approximately 20 foot lead fall suffering a right ankle injury. The party self-rescued using a litter from the Dow Cache once they rappelled/lowered to the bottom of the ice. They pulled the litter to the Harvard Cabin where they met the HMC Cartetaker. The Caretaker contacted USFS Snow Rangers who then transported the victim to Pinkham Notch via the snowcat. His climbing partners then drove him to the hospital. This rescue took 4 people 2+ hours to complete.

Injured Climber

The victim was leading a climb in O’dells Gully when he took a 10′ fall on the third pitch of ice. He landed on a sloping ice shelf and fell backwards suffering an injury to his lower left leg. He was lowered down the ice by his climbing partners and then by USFS Snow Rangers. At the base of the ice he was put in a litter and lowered to the floor of the ravine and the waiting snowcat. He was transported by snowcat to Pinkham and then by ambulance to the hospital. This rescue took 6 people 3.25 hours.

Crampon Injury

The victim was descending from the summit at approximately 3:15pm when he tripped after catching a crampon, injuring his right leg. He was assisted by his guide until a litter arrived. He was lowered down the Lion Head trail by the guide, the HMC and AMC caretakers, a USFS Snow Ranger and volunteers. He was then taken by snowcat to Pinkham and a waiting ambulance. The victim suffered a broken tibia and fibula and a dislocated ankle of the right leg. This rescue took 11 people 5 hours.