Mountaineers Help Rescue Climber

Club helps transport stranded hiker who was suffering from rib damage

Members of the Harvard Mountaineering Club (HMC) assisted an injured climber on Mt. Washington, New Hampshire last Saturday.

The group, who traveled to New Hampshire to teach new members about winter camping and hiking, was on its first winter trip of the season when the climber was hurt in the vicinity of Huntington Ravine near the HMC-operated cabin.

The climber lost his footing due to a gust of wind and fell about 125 meters down the snow slope, according to Justin Preisendorfer, a snow ranger at the White Mountain National Forest. The climber suffered fractures to his arm and rib damage resulting from the fall, HMC President Lucas T. Laursen ’06 wrote in an e-mail.

After the accident, one of the injured climber’s partners went down to the HMC-operated cabin and told its caretaker, Jon Husson ’06-’07, what had happened. Husson then informed the rest of the people at the cabin, a group of college and graduate students from Harvard and other local schools, according to Laursen.

Preisendorfer praised the efforts that HMC made to help the climber.

“More than 30 people participated in this difficult rescue that lasted late into the evening,” Preisendorfer wrote.

While half the group stayed at the cabin and prepared food and water for the rescue personnel, the other half helped transport the injured climber through the difficult terrain between Huntington Ravine and the HMC cabin, Laursen wrote in an e-mail.

Twenty-six HMC members assisted in the rescue, according to Laursen.

When Laursen learned that there had been an accident, his initial concern was that it involved an HMC member.

“With that many HMCers on the mountain, I figured it had to be one of ours,” Laursen wrote in an e-mail. “I was relieved when it turned out not to be an HMC member, but obviously still concerned for the climber.”

Once the rescue team brought the climber to the HMC cabin, an ambulance took him to a local hospital for further medical care, HMC Secretary Caroline L. Pihl ’08 wrote in an e-mail.

Laursen expressed his sympathy for the climber.

“His injuries were pretty serious, and bumping along in a sled for six or seven hours in 10 degrees Fahrenheit can’t be comfortable,” Laursen wrote in an e-mail. “A strong gust of wind on snow like that can catch even an experienced climber off guard.”

Pihl said that she was glad that group was able to help.

“We were all very pleased with the way we were able to respond to the situation,” said Pihl, “It’s nice to know that with our cabin on Mt. Washington we can be supportive of the climbing community and provide assistance to the rangers and local search and rescue teams.”