Skier rescued by bystanders after falling more than 400 feet through jagged rocks at Tuckerman Ravine

Crank

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But was he wearing skis?

What were his injuries?

I've fallen farther than that at Tucks without helmet or crampons.
 

James

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I was there on Friday. Very, very few people there. Probably a dozen all day, based on people hiking in/out but no more than at a time

“They walked him down a trail”
Yikes. That’s probably 2.5 miles of rocky trail.

B39CF283-BAA6-4BC9-B222-0C885CB52B79.jpeg

Friday.
B0C4CCF0-9F0A-41CE-B235-932F1FCA2373.jpeg

About 2:15pm
 
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James

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I think rescue in winter may be easier with snowmobiles. Now, since it’s mostly grass, possibly you could get a rugged vehicle up the Sherburne trail? Might be too steep.
 

JonathanShefftz

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I think rescue in winter may be easier with snowmobiles. Now, since it’s mostly grass, possibly you could get a rugged vehicle up the Sherburne trail? Might be too steep.
Up (and then down) the ~1900' vertical on the Sherburne via an ATV is relatively easy. Just like any middling intermediate ski trail at a resort.
Getting the patient down ~500' on the TRT from the base of the Bowl to Hermit Lake is the loooong part.
And just getting the patient down from Crunch Rocks to the base of the Bowl requires careful ropework.
 

James

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That’s a good article on the incident. Man, that’s a lot of people that helped out. He’s lucky they were around. On Friday afternoon we might have had 2-3 people at most to help and near the end only 1 of us two.

A chopper came from the Coast Guard. We had lunch on that deck Friday. They moved the tables for the rescue.

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The bulletin board over there is where the avalanche report is posted, plus at the bottom outside the visitors center. Possibly it changed by Sunday, but on Friday, I think the area the father and son were hiking to ski, The Sluice, was marked closed. At least Right Gulley was, and I thought that whole side. For danger of falling rock and ice. Even in the center I passed a rock about 6 x14 inches that had tumbled down recently. It was too far to reach over and get it in my precarious first hike up.

Most people skied the left gulley.

The Tuckerman Ravine trail up to the summit was also closed. You had to do Lion’s Head trail.

345C296E-15EE-4DFE-B221-351537FD58A8.jpeg

  1. Left Gulley
  2. Chute Variation South
  3. The Chute
  4. Chute Variation North
  5. Center Gully South
  6. Center Gully North
  7. The Icefall
  8. The Lip
  9. The Sluice
  10. Right Gully (Lobster Claw, Lion Head Gully 1 2 & 3 further over)
 

JonathanShefftz

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I think that's pretty much the minimum number of people to get a litter down from the base of the Bowl to Hermit Lake...

The annual closure was already in effect at that time:
... and will be for at least a couple more weeks, maybe even longer.
But the (would-be) skiers were not *quite* in the closure area (unless it's interpreted as any snow to the skier's left of Crunch Rocks, but that's not really an area of concern, and instead it's more of way to reference the area of concern).
And the danger is not falling snow/ice (as then the closure would start in April), but rather the undermining, and then later on when that has subsided the snow still covers a very short section of the hiking trail, which would be potentially hazardous for more casual hikers on an otherwise snow-free route.
 

James

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Well I don’t know, I thought it specifically mentioned Right Gully. And rocks, and ice. I was surprised by the ice. (I’d never heard of Right Gully and only heard Left Gully a few hours before.) But none of that is in the avy report online. I should’ve taken a picture of it. But it could be we heard wranings from the caretaker. We weren’t going over there anyway.


There were a couple of root balls with a trsil of dirt that must have come from some height or been completely washed by running water.

Do people hike down the Sherburne trail? That lower portion I might consider.
 

JonathanShefftz

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[...] Do people hike down the Sherburne trail? That lower portion I might consider.
All foot traffic is strictly forbidden.
With no snow, hiking would lead to massive erosion that would in return require much more snow base to make it skiable.
And with snow, hiking trashes the skiing conditions via postholing.
 

Ken_R

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I was there on Friday. Very, very few people there. Probably a dozen all day, based on people hiking in/out but no more than at a time

“They walked him down a trail”
Yikes. That’s probably 2.5 miles of rocky trail.

View attachment 135119
Friday.
View attachment 135120
About 2:15pm

That looks really nasty. Poor "snow" conditions. Looks like punchy refrozen "snow". Undermined snow (possibly icy water flows underneath). Frozen ice flows here and there. Yikes!
 

James

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All foot traffic is strictly forbidden.
With no snow, hiking would lead to massive erosion that would in return require much more snow base to make it skiable.
And with snow, hiking trashes the skiing conditions via postholing.
What’s the technique for transitioning from crampons when hiking up the steep snow in the Ravine? Flat spots might be hard to come by.
In the future I might even want a leash on my skis to get them on/off. With snow soft enough to jam the tails in it’s easier but don’t know about doing it on hard snow.


That looks really nasty. Poor "snow" conditions. Looks like punchy refrozen "snow". Undermined snow (possibly icy water flows underneath). Frozen ice flows here and there. Yikes!
Snow was actually very good where we skied. Bit too much dirt content skiers left, but still nice. Could have easily done laps for hours with a lift. Avoided any sort of gully that showed on the surface.

We did pass on the hike out various people. One mom with her kids, one had a smooth bottom sled. I told him stopping was going to be an issue. There’s no runout with so little snow. They did make it out as wesaw them later.
Another guy with 3 or 4 kids all under say 8 we past on the way down, they going up at like 4:30. Hard to understand that one. We did mention it to the caretaker, and he said he had talked to them.
 
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Crank

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When I hiked/skied it back in the 80's no one wore crampons. There was a defined boot pack going up the ravine and another one over at Hillman's. Everyone went up single file. Everyone left packs stashed at bottom of ravine or at Hojo's and carried skis over the shoulder style. I remember being careful to not lean back as it felt like the weight of my skis could tip me over backwards.

We did Hillman's our second day there and nearing the top a guy with hiking gear asked me if this was a good way down for him. He had crampons and an ice axe. My thought was that in this loose, deep corn snow he would not be able to get any purchase and would slide all the way down. My buddy who was about 10 minutes behind me mentioned seeing some guy with an ice axe sliding, out of control, down the chute. Hmm.

I keep meaning to return. Hike would be a lot harder on me at 64, 65 next spring, then it was at the age of 26. That said, I remember seeing plenty of older guys up there. And some crazy college boys who were hauling a full keg of beer up the trail!
 

JonathanShefftz

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That looks really nasty. Poor "snow" conditions. Looks like punchy refrozen "snow". Undermined snow (possibly icy water flows underneath). Frozen ice flows here and there. Yikes!
Not punchy for your skis -- the snow is very consolidated by this time of the season, and usually even by early April, given all our dense wind slab from the winter.
But definitely punchy for your entire body though given all the undermining in that section of the Bowl!
And of course very slick given the weather conditions that day.
So overall, yes, I'll agree with the Nasty rating for Memorial Day Weekend.
(I had been planning to head up there for one final Eastern ski outing, but then the wx fx changed alas.)
 

JonathanShefftz

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What’s the technique for transitioning from crampons when hiking up the steep snow in the Ravine? Flat spots might be hard to come by.
An important yet difficult ski mountaineering skill for sure!
First I kick out a flat platform, with my boot crampons still affixed.
Once that looks good (enough), I remove my boot crampons, and place the points in the snow so that they're not going anywhere.
All of my packs have the ability to remove my skis with my pack still on.
One ski either gets its tail jammed vertically into the snow, or placed flat with the bindings jammed upside down into the snow.
(Small skimo race bindings are great for that.)
I use leashes so that I have an extra way to hold onto my skis. The second ski to click into should always be your uphill ski. Oddly enough this is a skill that carries over from my alpine ski race coaching career. Makes a big difference, even though it seems trivial in concept.
Once both skis are on, first, I breathe a big sigh of relief! Then I place my boot crampons into the bottom side-access compartment of my pack, so that I don't have to remove my pack during the entire transition.
 

JonathanShefftz

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When I hiked/skied it back in the 80's no one wore crampons. There was a defined boot pack going up the ravine and another one over at Hillman's. Everyone went up single file. Everyone left packs stashed at bottom of ravine or at Hojo's and carried skis over the shoulder style.[...]
Ditto for when I first went there in June of 1996.
I had a vague understanding of a sport called mountaineering for which participants used crampons, ice axe, helmet, etc.
But somehow this place seemed immune from all that?
The following year, I learned the hard way when I took a long fall while ascending Left Gully.

Since then, many times I've been ascending a very well-defined boot pack such I could almost certainly get away w/o boot crampons.
Then a descending skier wipes out the boot pack up above us and all the other ascenders are in a sketchy situation.
 

James

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What pack attribute has you getting the skis off while it’s still on?

I hate ascending Tuckerman with skis on shoulder. I swore after the first time years ago I wouldn’t do it again. Last week the snow was soft enough to kick toe holds on the way up, I held skis vertically in one hand, poles in the other. Wasn’t thrilled with that either, but at least it’s 3 places of contact at all times.

I think in general people get deluded into a sense of safety when there’s a lot of people around.

We had hiking boot spikes but no crampons. The spikes aren’t really good for going up steep stuff.
Last time I was up there was in 2004, late May. Went up the Boot Spur trail, came down Boot Spur Link. There was no snow at all until going down the link. It was completely filled in spots. We had to slide on our packs, use poles to slow. It would likely have been near impossible to go up without crampons and poles.

The mountain is rugged and unforgiving.
 

JonathanShefftz

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Here are some packs that have such a feature:
Some of my packs have a hook, some a lasso.

Agreed on the misleading "everyone else is doing it" safety impression.

I have a hiking boot spike. Can't remember if Yaktrax or Microspike brand. Just one, not a pair. I keep it in my gear room as a grim reminder when packing up for a trip. Found it in the spring melt-out. Based on the exact location, a USFS Snow Ranger told me which of these victims it had most likely belonged to:
... but I've forgotten since then.
(He told me a harrowing story about performing CPR on the first victim. Can't remember if he was the snow ranger lowered in the hole for the second victim. I could ask him again, but given that these incidents were factors in his relatively early retirement from that career, I doubt he wants to discuss them again.)
 

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