Avalanche in Pinnacle Gully

Shortly after 10:30am, a 31 year old man fell approximately 1150′ after triggering an avalanche in Pinnacle Gully. The avalanche deposited him at the bottom of the area known as the “Fan” about 50 feet below the debris pile. He sustained significant injuries but was able to call 911 from his cell phone alert authorities of the accident. USFS Snow Rangers were notified of the accident by the Androscoggin Ranger District at approximately 10:45 and arrived on scene with rescue equipment around 11:15. After the patients injuries were stabilized, he was packaged into a rescue sled and transported behind a snowmobile to an ambulance waiting at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center.

The avalanche danger for Pinnacle was Considerable, based on new snow being blown in on southerly winds around 40-50mph. Between 7.3″ and 8.0″ of new snow was recorded from the storm before it changed over to rain on Friday. It is unclear how much snow had fallen at the time of the avalanche, but we estimate about 4″ had fallen. The avalanche was triggered in new snow sitting on top of a rain crust and was classified as D2R3. The climber described his location as being “about 3/4 of the way up” the climb when the slide was triggered. He stated his belief that he was the trigger for the avalanche.

Due to unfavorable weather conditions, a rapid trauma assessment and extrication were conducted in the field. The patient was treated for a possible fractured femur. Other injuries noted, but not immediately treated, included an angulated wrist and superficial facial contusions and abrasions.