New Hampshire man survives Mount Washington avalanche

By Terry Karkos, Sun Journal
Posted March 12, 2011, at 6:52 p.m.

PINKHAM NOTCH, N.H. — A New Hampshire man survived a 1,300-foot fall Thursday morning after triggering an avalanche while ice climbing in Mount Washington’s Huntington Ravine, a White Mountain National Forest spokeswoman said Friday.

Tiffany Benna said the 31-year-old man (who was not identified) suffered significant injuries. He called 911 for help at about 10:45 a.m., she said.

She said the man was ice climbing alone in the ravine’s Pinnacle Gully when he began to climb down because of unstable snow.

“While descending, the slope fractured and avalanched, carrying him down the gully through the approach area named ‘the Fan,’ to the ravine floor,” Benna said.

Snow rangers with the U.S. Forest Service were notified and responded with the caretaker from the Harvard Mountaineering Club cabin.

Benna said rangers arrived at 11:15 a.m. after traveling through Tuckerman Ravine on snowmobiles with rescue equipment.

The man was “packaged” into a rescue sled and taken behind a snowmobile to the Pinkham Notch Visitors Center for an ambulance ride to Memorial Hospital in North Conway.

Benna said the avalanche danger for Pinnacle Gully on Thursday was rated “considerable,” meaning natural avalanches were possible and human-triggered avalanches were likely.

Snow rangers recommend that climbers, skiers and hikers check the current advisory and weather forecasts before traveling in avalanche terrain.

Friday morning’s avalanche advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington ravines was listed as high, due mostly to rain.

“Very dangerous avalanche conditions exist,” said snow ranger Christopher Joosen.

“I’m usually an advocate for getting outside and toughing out some unpleasant weather to get some exercise, but today is a good day to sharpen some edges in your basement and watch a movie,” Joosen said.

More information on the North American Avalanche Danger Rating System and the daily avalanche advisory can be found at www.mountwashingtonavalanchecenter.org.

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http://bangordailynews.com/2011/03/12/outdoors/new-hampshire-man-survives-mount-washington-avalanche/ printed on December 27, 2014