To the Editors of the CRIMSON:
In recent years there have been almost forty fatalities on the slopes of Mount Washington. The three main causes of there accident have been: 1. the inexperience of the climbers involved: 2. severe weather conditions; 3. dangerous snow formations. In the tragedy last weekend in which Philip Longenecker and Jacques Parysko were killed, all three of these factors were combined. In hopes that the chance of future accidents may be somewhat reduced, the Mountaineering Club wishes to point out certain details concerning this mishap.
Due to heavy snowfall and high winds during the last week snow conditions on Mount Washington are about as dangerous now as they possibly can be. In spite of this danger Longenecker and Parysko built their igloo on the exposed floor of Tuckerman ravine directly under the towering cliffs loaded with snow ready to avalance. This was the first error in their conduct, for there are, just a short distance down the mountain from where they camped, several shelters that are in safe locations and are equipped for winter use.
It would appear that after taht avalanche had occurred, and Playsko had miraculously escaped without being buried, the handicap of his inexperience immediately became apparent. In descending the mountain for help he passed by no less than three emergency telephones, two first aid caches containing blankets and chemical heat pads, and the Tuckerman Ravine ski Shelter which, although unoccupied at the present time, is available for climbers in distress. The final irony of fate is that he dies just a few yards beyond the Spur Cabin of the Harvard Mountaineering Club where people were staying at that time.
The Harvard Mountaineering Club wishes to make an urgent appeal to all those who to climb or ski on Mount Washington (or any other out of the way area) to consult with us or any qualified organisation such as the Appalachian Mountain Club, the Mount Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol, or best of all, with Joe dodge at Pinkham Notch for advice as to where safe skiing and climbing conditions are to be found. (The HMC is located in Winthrop F-33; telephone KI 7-5284).
In is pure folly that this slaughter of well-meaning climbers should continue when it may be so easily avoided. Mount Washington is not an inherently dangerous mountain in spite of the many accidents that inexperienced climbers will bot heed the warnings of those who know the mountain well, and are aware of the dangers that await the person who is not prepared for its rigors. John S. Humphreys '54, President, HMC, Harry S. Francis '54, Chairman Safety Committee, H. Erich Helnemann '53, Chairman, Rock Committee.