Boston hiker’s body recovered from Tuckerman Ravine crevasse

By Terry Karkos, Sun Journal
Posted May 23, 2012, at 6:02 a.m.

PINKHAM NOTCH, N.H. — The body of a Boston hiker who fell into a deep crevasse last month in Mount Washington’s Tuckerman Ravine was recovered Monday.

Due to rescuer safety in the deep subterranean channel and waterfall, recovery operations for Norman Priebatsch, 67, were suspended the day after his April 1 fall, Tiffany Benna, White Mountain National Forest spokeswoman, said late Monday afternoon in a report.

Conditions in and around the crevasse were actively being checked for changes that would allow additional recovery efforts.

Then, a few days before Monday’s operations, a different tunnel connected with the main crevasse into which Priebatsch fell seven weeks ago had melted out, Benna said.

After an evaluation revealed it would allow safe entry during Monday’s brief window of opportunity, forest service snow rangers decided to go for it, she said.

Four snow rangers set up technical rope systems to remove Priebatsch and for their own safety while working at the recovery site.

The technical extrication took about two hours and was completed by 11 a.m., Benna said.

When the rope work was finished, Androscoggin Valley Search and Rescue, the Appalachian Mountain Club, and the Mount Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol joined the forest service in carrying Priebatsch in a rescue litter down to Hermit Lake from the ravine floor, she said.

His body was transferred to a six-wheeler and driven 2.5 miles down to the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center on Route 16. Benna said the entire recovery was completed by 1:30 p.m.

On April 1, Priebatsch was hiking near the Lip area of Tuckerman Ravine when he fell and slid into the crevasse. He was hiking with his 23-year-old son and others at the time.

Benna said last month that Priebatsch fell about 20 feet over a rock band, then slid several hundred feet before entering the crevasse.

Snow rangers with the U.S. Forest Service responded to the call for help. A ranger was lowered 40 to 50 feet into the crevasse to try to find the hiker.

But about 30 feet below the rescuer’s lowest point, the slope angle changed and the crevasse constricted to a narrow tunnel with water running through it.

That night, rescuers decided to suspend rescue efforts to descend farther because it was too hazardous due to large hanging icicles, running water and snow collapse above.

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http://bangordailynews.com/2012/05/23/news/state/boston-hikers-body-recovered-from-tuckerman-ravine-crevasse/ printed on December 27, 2014