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 8 February Henry Townsend (52), Deidre Byers (21), and Robert Hall (22), were descending the Escape Hatch on South Gully after a successful climb of Central Gully. One of the climbers slipped and all three plunged 600 feet down the Gully in full view of their rescuers. Deidre Byers made attempts to arrest the fall with her ice axe, but produced only momentary stops before being jerked free of the belay and down the mountain. All suffered head and body abrasions. Two climbers wore hard hats while the third did not, and he suffered serious lacerations to his scalp. The rescue set a record for shortness of time—two hours from Huntington Ravine to Pinkham Notch.

Source: Alan M. Corindia. Appalachia 37, 656-657, 1969.

Analysis: Fatigue and the lack of a belay certainly were possible factors. Hard hats would seem to be indicated even in winter climbing, as the only person who suffered serious head injuries was not wearing a hard hat.

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