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Avalanche, Weather, New Hampshire, Willy Slide

AVALANCHE, WEATHER

New Hampshire, Willy Slide

On February 10, 1988, a fresh snowfall of 30 centimeters was followed by 90 kph winds and -35 degree C temperatures the next day. Paul Nicinski (26) and I (29) soloed the first hundred meters. When we started to rope up, the wind was too strong so we decided to descend. We did not rope up. We downclimbed to the left toward the trees. The snow there felt good and we decided to go up. Paul was about ten meters above me and to the left. Paul heard a muffled sound and an avalanche started. He was trying not to hit me. I was not looking up. The snow grabbed me and my crampon snagged—so I was going down head first. I hit a small rock band with my chest, flipped over again, then ended up in the trees sitting up. Paul had an enjoyable ride down. I had a terrible headache and spit up a little blood. I was short of breath. We walked out. I believe I cracked my sternum. Never went to hospital. We estimated that we fell between 125-150 meters. (Soruce: Michael Binder)

Analysis

We should not have climbed at all in this weather. It was definite avalanche conditions and the angle of the climb was perfect for that. We wanted to do one more climb before we left the area. We never climbed in these weather conditions before, and because it was an easy climb, we thought we would check it out. We should have descended to the trees—we were blessed. (Source: Michael Binder)