On 3-17-01 MR was snowboarding over the Lip when he fell and cartwheeled approximately 700 feet down the slope at a high rate of speed. Bystanders in the ravine came to the aid of MR while one person went to Hermit Lake to report the accident to the Forest Service and AMC caretaker. A cell phone call reporting the accident was received at 5pm, at the same time the person from the ravine reported it to the Snow Rangers. MR sustained a fractured femur of the left leg. He was put in a sager traction splint and placed in a rescue litter. Heat packs and a “hypo wrap” were applied to prevent hypothermia.
Due to the time of day and the possible severity of his injury DART medical helicopter was called. MR was littered to the floor of Tuckerman Ravine where he was loaded into the helicopter at 6:15pm.
Skiing or riding steep snowfields and gullys is an inherently dangerous sport. To help minimize your chance of being injured consider: wearing a helmet; using releasable bindings whenever possible; staying well hydrated; and skiing or riding when snow conditions are favorable. A common problem we see in the ravine is the skier/rider who tries to squeeze too many runs into a cold but sunny day. During the early part of the day the snow in the ravine softens due to solar radiation. By mid afternoon, the sun drops behind the ridge and the ravine is in the shade. The snow surface freezes very rapidly when this occurs. Now the skier/rider is at the top of the gully facing having to come down a hard, frozen surface. Having crampons and an ice axe is your best bet to get down the gully safely in these conditions, foregoing that last run down the slope. If you do not have this equipment, pay attention to the sun and the snow conditions and descend before the snowpack freezes up.
Personnel Used: USFS- 2 AMC – 7 MWVSP –1 Volunteer – 3
The rescue effort took approximately 2 hours total.