More Trouble At Tuckerman Ravine, NH -- Skier Falls In Waterfall Hole

Tuckerman Ravine - Credit: jjvoll [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
This Mount Washington Avalanche is reporting another issue, this time at Tuckerman Ravine. Thankfully, this time the story ends as a "close call" with the victim coming out okay.

On Monday afternoon, April 22, a skier fell over the Tuckerman Ravine headwall and slid into one of several waterfall holes. Bystanders in the area were able to begin a rescue, as well as call 911 for emergency response. The skier's actual location under the snow was not known, so a beacon search was also initiated. After approximately 20 minutes, the skier was able to free himself, appearing from a different hold and sliding down to rescuers.

Although the victim had spent those 20 minutes in cold, flowing water, he was alert, oriented, and able to walk. He was reported to be in some pain, however, due to impacts suffered from the fall. Rescuers were able to change the victim into dryer clothes and begin to walk him out of the area. As the rescuers and victim walked out of the area, U.S. Forest Service Snow Rangers were on their way to the area and met the rescue group on the way down. From there the victim was taken the rest of the way down via snowcat.

The Mount Washington Avalanche Center has said they would like this to be a learning experience to anyone who might be venturing into the backcountry this spring. From their own news release;

"This positive outcome should be regarded as quite lucky and be taken as a warning for all who travel on steep snow slopes in spring conditions in our mountains. Had the subject, who was a strong athlete and also a climber, been unable to self-extricate himself from the waterfall hole the outcome could have been far worse. Many of these deep holes in the snow are impossible for even the strongest individual to climb out of. Extricating a person from these holes can be very dangerous for rescuers and is difficult to accomplish in a sufficiently timely manner to save a life. We know the subject would urge you to learn from this accident, giving potentially deep holes and glide cracks in the snow a wide berth and taking care to not fall above one.
The rescue initiated by partners and bystanders of the subject was a positive example we would also like you to learn from. Partners were paying attention to each other and able to quickly initiate a rescue. They had sufficient dry clothing and emergency supplies to provide proper care for the subject. Several emergency medical professionals observed the accident and immediately helped rescue efforts. Rescuers had knowledge that a litter and hypothermia wrap materials were available in nearby Connection Cache and used them. All individuals on the scene had avalanche rescue gear, as large wet slab avalanches were forecast as unlikely but not impossible that day. While a call was made for professional rescue, this group realized that they could provide timely aid to the subject and took appropriate action that could have resulted in an effective evacuation had professional rescue been delayed or unavailable. This self-reliant level of accident response is commendable. It is also the level of response that everyone traveling in the backcountry should be prepared for, every time you’re out.
Please learn from this accident to have a safer spring ski season, and see you on the hill!"
Please, take heed of this lesson and make sure you are as prepared as you can be when entering the backcountry and make sure you take some friends along with you. They could be the ones that save your life or make sure that someone else is able to.


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