American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

New Hampshire, Mt. Washington

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1970

New Hampshire, Mt. Washington. On 27 January Robert Ellenberg (19), C. Neale Yoder (25), and Scott Stevens (19), apparently were descending Huntington Ravine between Central and Damnation Gullys. The reason for the fall was not known, but it is presumed that one of the party slipped and as they were roped together the others were pulled down the slope. All were killed in the fall. When the rescue party arrived in the ravine, they found the bodies roped together and spread out along the fall line. The first body was downhill 50 feet from the second and the third above the second by about 12 feet. They were all roped by an 11mm perlon rope. The first was missing the left boot which was lying close at hand. There was also a rock hammer just above the body. A crampon was tangled in the rope about six feet above. He had around his waist a sling with three ice screws and several carabiners. He was adequately dressed for the season. The second was badly tangled in the rope and had several carabiners with him. He was also well dressed except that his gloves were missing. The third was well dressed, missing one glove, but had a pack. One glove was found about 30 feet east of the bodies. After untying the victims, they were placed in litters, roped onto the back of the snow vehicle and taken to Pinkham Notch.

The site of the accident was examined on the following day by a group of experienced persons. About halfway up the slope, two ice axes and a crampon were found as well as a pair of pliers and a screw driver. None of these items slid very far and it is presumed they had become separated from the falling party and remained in the approximate spot where the separation had occurred. There were no traces of blood found farther than one quarter of the way up the slope. At the very top of the slope the terrain became too steep and Sloat and Bailey, two of the examiners, started their descent. It was noted during the descent that pockets or depressions approximately 1½ inches deep in the hard crusted, icy snow appeared along the fall line approximately 10 to 15 feet apart. These pockets continued to about the middle point of the slope and then disappeared. This indicated that the boys were tumbling and bouncing very rapidly at the top of the slope, but as the slope became more gradual they tended merely to slide. Although blood was found on one or two projecting rocks, these rocks were nearly filled with snow behind and probably not a cause of any additional injuries. The fall must have started somewhere above the top of the snow slope between Central Gully and Damnation Gully. The reason for the fall could not be established.

Source: Alan Corindia.

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