At around 5 p.m. yesterday, an avalanche struck on New Hampshire’s Mount Washington. The avalanche swept three climbers 800′ down an icy gully in Huntington Ravine. The climbers where all injured in the slide but none of the injuries were life-threatening. Among the climbers was former Marine Sgt. Keith Zeier, 26, who lost his leg and suffered a severe brain injury in Iraq back in 2006.
It is being reported that the climbers were attempting to summit 6,288′ Mount Washington to raise money for families of Special Operations forces killed and wounded in action.
Since 1849, six people have been killed by avalanches on Mount Washington.
The Presidential Range in the White Mountains of New Hampshire has the greatest concentration of avalanche terrain east of the Rocky Mountains in the United States. Mount Washington, the highest summit in the range (1917 m) and the highest peak in the northeastern United States, is a small mountain with a fierce reputation. Harsh winter weather and a high accident rate have earned Mount Washington the distinction of having “the worst weather in the world” and as “the most dangerous small mountain in the world”. The highest wind speed ever recorded over land was measured on Mount Washington at 371 km/h. Hurricane force winds (>121 km/h) are measured on average of 110 days per year. While the notoriously severe winter weather of the Presidential Range is commonly acknowledged, much less is known about the avalanche terrain, snowpack and weather conditions which characterize this small mountain range. The consistently high winds and their influence upon avalanche conditions are unique to avalanche prone areas in the United States. Winter recreation use of the Presidential Range, including Mount Washington is intense. Since 1954 there have been 10 avalanche fatalities and many other avalanche accidents in the Presidential Range. Historical data indicate that avalanche accidents have increased in the past decade, mirroring the national trend in recreation related avalanche accidents in the United States. mountwashingtonavalanchecenter.org