American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

New Hampshire, Mt. Washington

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1965

New Hampshire, Mt. Washington. On 31 January Peter Catelli, Peter Bradford, Craig Fournier, and Robert Koppe left the Glen House for a three day trip above timberline. Their planned route was to traverse the range from Mt. Madison to Crawford Notch. On 3 February they had not appeared and all possible check points revealed no contact with the individuals. The weather had progressively deteriorated from 1 February. Because of this rescue operations were started. Repeated attempts to climb above timberline to various shelter areas were unsuccessful because of snow and bad weather. On 6 February, a clear day, the party was sighted at Edmands Col where they had remained in the emergency shelter for about five days. Contact was made and the party walked to Monticello Lawn where they were evacuated by helicopter.

Source: Appalachia 35, 175-178, 1964; Forest Service Report of V. R. Lonn, Assistant Ranger.

Analysis: Once the four students got into trouble they used their heads and made no serious errors in judgment. They did budget their food; they did seek shelter and stay put; they did keep together and not panic; and finally, they did obey all orders when sighted. However, a thoughtful review of this trip suggests that this was an overly ambitious one to attempt in winter, particularly when the unfamiliarity of the group with the entire route is considered. Prudence should have dictated that they not proceed on Saturday (1 February) in the face of bad weather and that a campsite should have been selected that offered an escape route nearby.

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