One Person Injured In Snow Collapse At Tuckerman Ravine, New Hampshire

It would seem that the dangers of the backcountry snow at Tuckerman Ravine in NH are still very much in play during the month of July. One person was injured when an arch of snow collapsed on them, which was reported to be an avalanche, at first.

It was at approximately 1:30 P.M. this past Saturday, July 18th, that a 911 call was received reporting that a person was caught in an avalanche in Tuckerman's Ravine Trail, according to a NH Fish & Game Department news release. The call that was received was transferred to a Conservation Officer, who gathered as much information as possible. Part of that information included the possibility of more than one person being caught in the avalanche.

However, as more information was collected by the Conservation Officer, it was realized that the incident was not an avalanche, but an actual collapse of a snow formation known as The Tuckerman Snow Arch

NH Fish & Game Conservation Officers, along with members of the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) and Androscoggin Valley Search and Rescue were called in to respond for the rescue. During this response time, it was confirmed that only one person had been caught in the snow collapse.

"A coordinated response was organized and hikers were relayed up the Sherburne Ski Trail to Hermit Lake Shelter where they hiked up to the victim’s location. Due to the rescue being on the White Mountain National Forest, US Forest Service contributed resources including ATVs and hikers in order to assist with the rescue." - NH Fish & Game News Release

The victim, 28-year-old Alphonse Riang of Quincy, Massachusettes, had gone off-trail and under the snow arch to take a video of the area. The arch collapsed while Riang was underneath. Witnesses described the scene as having "a basketball court size amount of snow" and that "it sounded like a sonic boom when the snow arch collapsed and landed."

Though it is unknown how long Riang was under the snow and ice, other passing hikers who saw the incident were able to stop and help Riang out of the snow and to safety. AMC personnel were the first to arrive on the scene after Riang had been moved. As more rescue personnel arrived it was determined that Riang had received serious, but non-life-threatening injuries. Though seriously injured, it was decided that a slow, assisted walk down the trail was just as safe as a carryout. Riang was assisted down to Hermit Lake shelter where he was then loaded onto an ATV.

Rescuers brought Riang down the Sherburne Ski Trail and arrived at the Pinkham Notch Visitor's Center parking lot at approximately 6:45 P.M. Riang was then loaded into a Gorham Ambulance and taken to Androscoggin Valley Hospital to be treated for his injuries.

"Authorities said that Riang is very lucky to be alive and this incident should act as a reminder to stay on the trail and not go on or under any suspended snow bridges or arches of any kind, especially in the summer months when all snowpack is losing its structural integrity due to the sun and temperature." - NH Fish & Game News Release

Photo: The aftermath of the snow arch collapse. - Credit: NH Fish & Game Dept.


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