4/4/2011: A group was descending the Lion Head Winter Route, when one of the member of the group lost control of his glissade. He slid an unknown length, impacted trees along the way, and came to rest wedged between two trees just above the first steep pitch on the route ( atop the “rock step”). The party was able to reach 911 via cell phone, and also local caretakers from the AMC heard their voices while skiing and went over to assist. Due to the unfortunate location of where he came to rest, stabilization and extrication was difficult and took longer than usual for accidents in this area. The patient was eventually packaged on a backboard in a rescue litter, which was lowered by rope through the steep sections of trail. He was loaded into the USFS snowcat and transferred to an ambulance at Pinkham Notch Visitor Center. Overall the rescue involved 2 Snow Rangers, 2 caretakers, one bystander, and a handful of people from the group. The total time from injury to when he was transferred to the ambulance was approximately 4-5 hours.

Although this patient’s injuries were caused by impact with trees, we would like to remind everyone that glissading while wearing crampons is a dangerous activity. Every year people are injured doing this. You are better off staying on your feet if you are wearing crampons. If you do want to glissade, we recommend removing your crampons first. The Lion Head Winter Route is a steep route that requires the ability to self arrest to navigate safely. We recommend hikers should not only have an ice axe and crampons, but be experienced in how to use them effectively.

3/15/2011: A group of people were snow shoeing in Tuckerman Ravine in the bottom of Right Gully when one of them slipped on an icy surface and began a head first sliding fall toward boulders.  His friend, who was below him, got in his fall line and stopped his fall.  This successfully kept his friend from injuring himself, but the person who stopped the fall suffered a broken lower leg in the process.  The caretaker from the Harvard Cabin and three local guides were in the area.  They provided first aid and began transporting the patient with some assistance from bystanders.  Snow Rangers responded to help and the patient was lowered down the Little Headwall and transported to Pinkham Notch via snowmobile where he was transferred to an ambulance.

3/10/2011: Shortly after 10:30am, a 31 year old man fell approximately 1150′ after triggering an avalanche in Pinnacle Gully. The avalanche deposited him at the bottom of the area known as the “Fan” about 50 feet below the debris pile. He sustained significant injuries but was able to call 911 from his cell phone alert authorities of the accident. USFS Snow Rangers were notified of the accident by the Androscoggin Ranger District at approximately 10:45 and arrived on scene with rescue equipment around 11:15. After the patients injuries were stabilized, he was packaged into a rescue sled and transported behind a snowmobile to an ambulance waiting at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center.

The avalanche danger for Pinnacle was Considerable, based on new snow being blown in on southerly winds around 40-50mph. Between 7.3″ and 8.0″ of new snow was recorded from the storm before it changed over to rain on Friday. It is unclear how much snow had fallen at the time of the avalanche, but we estimate about 4″ had fallen. The avalanche was triggered in new snow sitting on top of a rain crust and was classified as D2R3. The climber described his location as being “about 3/4 of the way up” the climb when the slide was triggered. He stated his belief that he was the trigger for the avalanche.

Due to unfavorable weather conditions, a rapid trauma assessment and extrication were conducted in the field. The patient was treated for a possible fractured femur. Other injuries noted, but not immediately treated, included an angulated wrist and superficial facial contusions and abrasions.

The Avalanche Advisory for 3/10/2011 is here.

Analysis from the Weekend Update can be found here.

We’ll continue to post more information as it becomes available.

Previous report:

At approximately 10:30 am, a solo ice climber triggered an avalanche in Pinnacle Gully. He was carried over the ice down to the bottom of the Fan. Significant injuries were sustained but he was not buried. He was able to call 911 to report the accident. USFS Snow Rangers provided first aid and transported the climber to an ambulance at Pinkham Notch Visitor Center.

The avalanche danger on this day was rated Considerable.

We will post more details in the near future.