Fall on Snow, Faulty Use of Crampons, Unable to Self-Arrest, New Hampshire, Mount Washington, Lion Head

Publication Year: 2011.


New Hampshire, Mount Washington, Lion Head

On March 6, a hiker was descending the steep section of Lion Head trail when snow had balled up in his crampons and he fell approximately 50 feet, injuring his lower leg. While bystanders began to haul him down the trail, the Snow Ranger that was returning to Hermit Lake from the first incident rerouted to respond to the incident. The patient’s injuries were stabilized and he was transported to Pinkham Notch by snowmobile as well.


The Lion Head Winter Route is a steep trail where conditions change quickly from day to day or even during the course of a single day. We recommend that an ice ax for safer travel on this route. (This assumes the ability to use this equipment properly.). In this instance, the patient had ski poles rather than an ice ax. For the purposes of arresting a fall in steep terrain, an ice ax is a far more effective tool than just regular ski poles. Self-arrest ski poles, such as Black Diamond’s Whippet would serve as a good compromise.

Wearing crampons on descent in the kind of snow that will ball up is not recommended. If the snow is firm enough to use crampons on descent, then the climber will be facing sideways or in. (Source: www.mountwashingtonavalanchecenter.org and Jed Williamson)