American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fall on Snow, Inexperience — New Hampshire, Mount Washington

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1983

FALL ON SNOW, INEXPERIENCE

New Hampshire, Mount Washington

In late March 1982, Kathy Hamman (25) fell 130 meters to her death while climbing in Connection Gully in Tuckerman Ravine. Her partner, Barry Schempf (26), also fell while trying to reach her but received only minor injuries. He had climbed before but she was inexperienced.

The temperature at the time was - 17°C, with 80 kph winds. (Source: Appalachian Mountain Club)

Analysis

This was the 100th fatality on Mount Washington since 1849. Well over two thirds of these have involved hikers or skiers not familiar with climbing or the severe weather. Half the fatalities have occurred in summer and were a result of exposure; the weather is a significant factor on this mountain. Winds exceed hurricane force an average of 100 days a year, the annual snowfall is close to three meters and the average temperature is -2°C. (Source: J. Williamson and the Appalachian Mountain Club)

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