Sliding Fall Hillman’s

The victim was snowboarding down Hillman’s Highway when he lost his edge and fell. He tumbled head over heals then was heading face first when he went over a rock drop off. He went approximately 200′ before he was able to stop himself by grabbing onto a clump of bushes. The victim sought assistance from the Forest Service and was treated by the Mount Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol. He had numerous abrasions and a possible concussion. The victim was able to walk out to Pinkham with his friends. This incident took 2 people 1/2 hour.

The previous day we received rain on the snowpack which then froze overnight. Conditions in Hillman’s Highway were very hardpack, icy and unforgiving. Skiers and riders should think twice about venturing onto slopes when conditions are such that without an ice axe you will not be able to stop a fall. One of the victims that fell was wearing snowshoes. Snowshoes are great for deep snow in rolling terrain but they are not intended for steep icy gully climbing. The snowshoe crampon system is designed to float over snow, not ice climb. Having the appropriate equipment for the terrain is essential for being safe in the mountains. Know your equipment, the advantages and limitations before you venture out into the backcountry.

Sliding Fall Huntington Ravine.

The victim was performing a seated glissade with crampons on in Huntington Ravine. Once he moved from soft new snow to the older hard icy surface he lost control and began cartwheeling. He tumbled about 150 to 200 feet before stopping in the rocks. Students from Lyndon State College were in the area and assisted the victim and called 911. The Gorham Ambulance service was called who relayed the information to the Forest Service Snow Rangers. Additional rescue resources were called. The victim was placed in a litter and lowered 600′ down the Fan, slid to the Sherburne ski trail where he was placed on the USFS snowcat. Due to icy conditions on the ski trail, the litter was belayed down the two lower hills and slid to a waiting ambulance. The victim suffered three fractured vertebrae, broken ribs, hand and ankle. This rescue took 22 people approximately 4.5 hours to complete.

Sliding Fall – Huntington Ravine

A party of three was hiking in Huntington Ravine, approaching O’Dell’s Gully when one of the individuals was knocked off his feet by a wind gust. He was unable to self arrest and slid and tumbled approximately 400’ into the rocks. The victim’s partners got him down the slope on two lowers. Then one of the partners ran down to the Harvard Mountaineering Club cabin to report the accident. Forest Service Snow Rangers were notified and additional rescue resources were called to the mountain. The victim was placed in a litter and carried down the Huntington winter access trail to the Tuckerman Ravine trail and over to the Sherburne ski trail where the litter was then slid down the trail to Pinkham and a waiting ambulance. The victim suffered facial injuries, fractures in both arms and a dislocated shoulder. Personnel from Mountain Rescue Service, Androscoggin Valley Search and Rescue, the Harvard Mountaineering Club, and the Appalachian Mountain Club worked with the Snow Rangers on this rescue. The rescue took a total of 34 people and 7.5 hours to complete

Long Sliding Fall. Left Gully Tuckerman Ravine

The victim dislocated his shoulder during a sliding fall in Left Gully in Tuckerman Ravine. When a Mt. Washington Volunteer Ski Patroller arrived on scene the victim was becoming hypothermic. He was treated by four Mt. Washington Volunteer Ski Patrollers and assisted down to Hermit Lake where he was reassessed. After warming up at the Snow Ranger Cabin, the patient walked down to Pinkham Notch with the aid of two friends.

Sliding Fall

A hiker took a sliding fall into Lunch Rocks and injured her knee. She was treated by two Mount Washington Volunteer Ski Patrollers and assisted to Hermit Lake. From there she was transported to Pinkham Notch on a snowmobile by a USFS Snow Ranger.

Long Sliding Fall Chute

The patient fell while climbing up the Chute in Tuckerman Ravine. During the long sliding fall, he dislocated his shoulder. He was treated by a Snow Ranger and a Mt. Washington Volunteer Ski Patroller and assisted to Pinkham Notch by his friends. The incident took 2 people 1/2 hour to complete, not including the time it took the part to hike out.

Long Sliding Fall – Central Gully

At around 1200 hours, the victim was attempting to ski in Central Gully in Huntington Ravine below the “ice bulge” when he fell. He slid on hard neve snow for 200 ft before hitting the rocks face first at the top of the fan. He had severe pain on his left side from his shoulder down to his leg. After assessing the victim, his partner went for help. Forest Service Snow Rangers were contacted and reached the victim at approximately 1335. The victim was put in a litter and lowered about 1200’ to the floor of the ravine. From there numerous climbers helped carry the litter to the Forest Service snowcat. He was then transported via snowcat to an ambulance at Pinkham, arriving at 1730. The victim suffered a dislocated and fractured shoulder, fracture humerus/elbow and muscular injuries of the right leg. This rescue took 19 people and up to 4 hours to complete.

Long Sliding Fall – Right Gully

The victim was climbing up Right Gully to ski when she fell. Due to the hard snow conditions she went into a high speed uncontrolled slide into the rocks at the bottom of the gully. She suffered contusions on her right arm, hip and knee. Her helmet was dented from the impact. Her arm was put in a sling and she was able to walk out of the ravine to Pinkham. This rescue took 2 people 3 hours.

Long Sliding Fall

After receiving a report of an overdue hiker and finding the hiker’s car at the Pinkham parking lot, Forest Service Snow Rangers initiated a search with the help of NH Fish and Game, AMC, MRS and AVSAR. After searching numerous areas, the individual was located on the floor of Huntington Ravine. The hiker ascended the Lion Head Winter Route to the Summit of Mt. Washington on January 27, 2004 with the intent to descend through the Ravine. The attempted descent through the Ravine resulted in a fatal fall. He was well equiped for winter weather in the mountains with appropriate clothing, food and water. He was using crampons and ski poles but did not have an ice axe.

Sliding Fall – Left Gully

The victim and a friend had just started up Left Gully to snowboard when they decided to turn around due to the hard frozen snow surface making climbing difficult. As they were descending, both fell, with the victim hitting a large rock with his leg. His friend notified the AMC caretaker. The USFS snow ranger, AMC & HMC personnel and volunteers responded. They put him in a traction splint, loaded him into a litter and belayed him down the Little Headwall to Hermit Lake. From there he was loaded into the USFS snowcat and transported to Pinkham and a waiting ambulance. He suffered a broken femur of the left leg. This rescue took 8 people approximately 3.25 hours to complete.

Long Sliding Fall – Hillman’s Highway

The victim was hiking up Hillmans Highway to snowboard. He fell approximately 200-300 feet on the icy surface suffering multiple abrasions. He was lowered by the Mount Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol about 400 feet with a boot/ice axe belay and then walked to the USFS cabin where his wounds were treated. Victim was able to walk down to Pinkham on his own.

Sliding Fall – Right Gully

The victim was climbing up Right Gully to ski when a rockfall occurred above her In her attempts to get clear, she lost her footing on the steep snow and began to slide. The victim was unable to self-arrest as her poles and ice axe were on her pack at the time. The victim slid into the Lunch Rocks at the bottom of Right Gully. She struck multiple rocks along the way, and was airborne and tumbling. Victim suffered a boot-top fracture of the right leg After her injuries were assessed and the damaged leg splinted, members of the Mount Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol, AMC staff and USFS Snow Rangers and other skiers commenced her evaucation from Tuckerman Ravine. The litter was lowered for 600 feet on belay to the floor of the Ravine. The litter was carried and slid over snow to the parking lot at Pinkham Notch. The rescue took about 4 hours and required 20 people.

Downclimbing Headwall

The victim was downclimbing with crampons and an ice axe on the Headwall when he fell about 3-400 feet. Victim suffered a broken wrist, broken ribs and a head laceration. His injuries were treated by the Mount Washington Valley Ski patrol. He walked down to Hermit Lake and was then transported to Pinkham in the USFS snowcat.

Climbing Accident Huntington Ravine

On March 5, 1999 a serious climbing accident occurred in Huntington Ravine on Mount Washington.

The Mount Washington Observatory reported very strong winds and cold temperatures for the day. West winds at 70-85 m.p.h. and temperatures ranging from -5 to -8 degrees F. made travel above treeline extremely difficult and dangerously cold. Snow conditions were very firm, the result of a mid-winter rain event.

QL and his partner AB completed a successful ascent of Odell’s gully, a moderate snow and ice climb on the south side of Huntington Ravine. Upon reaching the top, they encountered extremely high winds. They decided to descend via the Escape Hatch, a low angle snow gully which is the standard descent from climbs in Huntington Ravine. Battling the strong winds, the pair made their way east along the rim on Huntington Ravine. At times, the wind forced them to crawl on hands and knees. The winds had the effect of gradually pushing them closer and closer to the edge of the Ravine. At approximately 11:00 AM, a gust of wind blew QL off his feet. He was literally blown off the mountain. QL began sliding down the top of South gully. He attempted to self-arrest, but was unable to do so. He slid and tumbled down the entire length of South Gully, a fall of approximately 1200 feet.

AB suddenly noticed that QL was no longer with him. AB continued to make his way toward the Escape Hatch. Successfully descending the gully, he found QL at the bottom of South Gully, where he began to attend his injuries and initiate a rescue. Fortunately, another climbing party had arrived on the floor of Huntington Ravine. Another stroke of fortune for QL, as the party consisted of an orthopedic surgeon, an EMT and a registered nurse. They provided emergency medical care, and evacuated QL to the Harvard Mountaineering Club cabin at the base of Huntington Ravine. QL was transported to an awaiting ambulance via the US Forest Service Thiokol snow machine to Pinkham Notch.

QL suffered multiple lacerations and abrasions, a dislocated right elbow, and other internal injuries,


Climbing Mount Washington in winter can be a very serious undertaking. In addition to cold temperatures, hurricane force winds are measured on a regular basis. The climbing gullies of Huntington Ravine are somewhat sheltered from the full force of strong winds so common to the mountain. Climbers may be unaware or unprepared for what awaits them as they top out, where full exposure to the winds are experienced. Several climbing accidents have occurred in the past when climbers, upon reaching the top of the route, have been blown back down the gully. After a climb under high wind conditions, seasoned Mount Washington climbers will take care not to stand up until safe terrain is reached.

Conditions were quite severe above tree-line when the pair left to make their climb. winds were ranging from 70 to 80 m.p.h. on the summit of Mount Washington. The safety of an ascent should have been re-evaluated.

Several alternative options for descent should be considered under such difficult conditions. One option is to descend/rappel the gully to the base, rather than risking an above treeline traverse to the Escape Hatch. Climbers of Odell’s or Pinnacle gullies can also traverse east below the rim of the ravine to South Gully, providing a more sheltered descent option under high wind conditions.

QL was literally blown off the mountain attempting to descend. Climbing and traveling under such extreme conditions can be very difficult, and climbers have a narrow margin of safety in the event of an accident.

A word must be said about the tremendous fortune of having an orthopedic surgeon, EMT and RN on the scene in such a short time. A better scenario for care and evacuation under such conditions from this location is difficult to imagine.
The rescue required 6 persons and 13 person hours.

Glissading – Sliding Fall

On 2-15-99, BM was involved in a serious accident on the summit cone of Mount Washington. At approximately 1500, BM and his partners left the summit of Mount Washington, descending the southeast snowfields. The slope angle varies from 30 to 35 degrees where the accident occurred. About half way down from the summit, BM began glissading the snowfield. He lost control, gained speed, and caught his crampons on the surface. The slide was estimated to be approximately 200 feet, with many boulders hit along the way.

BM suffered an angulated boot-top fracture of the right leg, and swollen painful deformities of the right hand and right chest area. A lengthy rescue followed, which was not completed until 2:30 AM the following day. The rescue involved 7 pitches of raising over steep snow via a counter balance haul system. BM was raised to the summit and brought down the Mount Washington Auto Road with the assistance from the Mount Washington Observatory snow vehicle.


BM was glissading with his crampons on. Climbers must remove their crampons to glissade steep snow covered slopes. There have been several accidents on Mount Washington this winter where climbers began to glissade on their backsides without removing the crampons. Several of these accidents have resulted in fractured legs and ankles and lengthy rescue efforts.

The surface conditions at the time were extremely hard and icy, making self arrest difficult. Glissading steep, icy slopes without a good runout can be very dangerous.

Any accident in winter on Mount Washington can become life threatening given the notoriously harsh winter weather. Fortunately for BM and the rescuers, the weather was reasonably mild. BM was well equipped and had warm outerwear which helped keep him comfortable during the lengthy rescue, and may have prevented additional damage to his leg. Climbers, hikers and skiers would do well to prepare for the worst when climbing the mountain in winter.
The rescue required 15 people and 120 hours.