Mt. Washington a deceptively harmful mountain climbing vacation spot | Editorials

When in comparison with taller peaks in Alaska, California and Colorado, our Mount Washington is a relative pipsqueak. Nestled within the White Mountains of New Hampshire and clocking in at a decidedly modest 6,288 toes, it even has an auto street to the summit, the place you possibly can snap a selfie and revel in a concession stand sizzling canine.

That accessibility — it is a morning’s drive from Boston to the trailhead — makes it an alluring choice for informal and day hikers from throughout New England and the better northeastern United States.

However make no mistake. Mount Washington is likely one of the deadliest mountains in North America. Alpinists from world wide have been identified to coach for Mount Everest on its slopes. It usually doesn’t get the identical respect from native hikers, and that places lives in danger. Greater than 160 individuals have died on the height since 1849.

“It is dwelling to a number of the worst climate on this planet, and Saturday it lived as much as its fame,” Lt. Bob Mancini of the New Hampshire Fish and Sport Division advised WCVB-TV Monday.

It was Saturday, on the cusp of summer time, that Mount Washington was at its most harmful. Its summit was coated with snow and rim ice. Temperatures have been nicely beneath freezing, and 80-mph winds had the wind chill within the single digits. Earlier within the day, the vaunted Mount Washington Street Race, the place tons of of runners race up the auto street to the summit was stopped on the midway level; Race organizers properly decided it was far too dangerous to go all the best way to the highest.

But dozens of individuals have been above treeline anyway, having ignored the forecast, or having figured they may overcome it.

A type of hikers, Xi Chen of Andover, perished after falling sufferer to the weather. Chen, 53, was an skilled hiker however was trying a tough solo Presidential Traverse, a grueling 20-mile trek in one of the best of climate.

Chen’s power progressively gave method to the climate because the day progressed, his texts to his spouse changing into shorter and extra alarming. She known as New Hampshire Fish and Sport officers a bit of after 6:30 pm, sparking a determined rescue try. One staff left at 9:30 pm, adopted by a second an hour later. They struggled by the darkish, the rain and sleet and snow and located Chen above treeline, “hypothermic and unresponsive,” in accordance with a Fish and Sport launch. Rescue groups carried him to the summit of the mountain, the place he was taken down the auto street by truck, then by ambulance to an area hospital the place, “after life-saving efforts have been tried for a number of hours,” docs pronounced him lifeless.

Chen was an skilled hiker, having summited peaks throughout New England and the world. However he was nonetheless overcome. He wasn’t the one one which weekend. Different hikers discovered themselves needing rescue, with a couple of coming perilously near Chen’s destiny.

“The forecasted climate situations, significantly for the upper summits, was not heeded by many hikers’” Fish and Sport stated in its launch. “A number of discovered themselves unprepared for the harmful situations above tree line, and as an alternative of turning again or bailing out to safer elevations, they continued on and finally known as 911 anticipating a rescue.”

And there is the rub. Each name for assist in perilous situations places a number of different lives in peril. Dozens of extremely skilled rescuers risked their very own lives to assist Chen and others that weekend. That Chen, a husband and father of three, misplaced his life is a tragedy. That the tragedy may have been compounded is unthinkable.

It’s one thing for all hikers to contemplate as they head into the woods this summer time.


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