A 62 year old Brookline, MA man was reported missing to USFS personnel at 11pm Saturday night, Feb 20, 2021, when he failed to return from a summit hike via Boott Spur or one of the Lion Head Trails. Temperatures on the summit were -6F with northwest winds 35-50 mph when the subject was found. Avalanche danger on Saturday was listed as Moderate with the possibility of an increase in danger to Considerable overnight. The first paragraph of the day’s avalanche forecast stated,
“A sketchy mix of hard, icy surfaces and poorly bonded, reactive wind slabs exists in prime avalanche terrain. Long sliding falls on the icy surface and new wind slabs vie for the dubious honor of being at the top of the list of hazards today. If venturing into steep terrain, bring an ice axe and crampons (not just microspikes) in addition to your beacon, shovel and probe. Natural avalanches aren’t likely during daylight hours, but human-triggered avalanches are possible with slabs 1-2’ thick in isolated areas; large enough to bury a person.”
Mount Washington Volunteer Ski Patrollers found him on a steep, icy slope above an area known as Lunch Rocks in Tuckerman Ravine at approximately 2:45am. The subject of the search had taken a long sliding fall down Right Gully after taking a wrong turn off the Lion Head Trail at about 4:30pm. The climber had plenty of hiking and snow climbing experience but chose to leave his crampons and ice axe behind and carried no headlamp. The microspikes he wore on his mountaineering boots did not provide adequate traction during his descent. He sustained non-life threatening injuries during the fall but was able to walk down to Hermit Lake with assistance. A team of 6 Mountain Rescue Service and four Androscoggin Valley SAR and 2 MWVSP personnel assisted AMC and USFS staff in delivering the patient to Pinkham Notch, arriving at 5:30am Sunday.