January 17, 2012SARGENT'S PURCHASE — A 46-year-old Massachusetts man hiking alone on Mount Washington died following an 800-foot fall into Tuckerman Ravine on Monday, Jan. 9.
Patrick Scott Powers of Mansfield, Mass., fell down snow- and ice-covered slopes into Tuckerman Ravine around 7:45 p.m., according to a press release issued by U.S. Forest Service (USFS). Powers was alive when rescuers first reached him but succumbed to his injuries before reaching Pinkham Notch, according to USFS Lead Snow Ranger Chris Joosen of the White Mountain National Forest. From Dec. 1 to June 1 the USFS is in charge of rescues in the Cutler River Drainage, which includes Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines.
Members of the USFS, plus AMC volunteers, members of Mountain Rescue Service, Harvard Mountaineering Club, and wilderness first aid students with SOLO responded to the accident. Rescue teams worked through the night, arriving at Pinkham Notch around 2 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 10. Powers had left Pinkham Notch the previous morning, heading for the summit in what he planned to be a daytrip.
He was discovered in the landmark "Lunch Rocks" area, a popular spot for hikers to rest during the late spring skiing months, Joosen explained to WCVB-TV, a news partner of WickedLocalMansfield (http://www.wickedlocal.com/mansfield).
Summit temperatures hovered around nine degrees all day on Monday, with poor visibility, light snow, and winds ranging between 40 and 50 m.p.h.
Powers' death is the first fatality on Mount Washington this winter, but there had already been two avalanche accidents in the New Year, one requiring a rescue. Winter conditions above treeline on the Presidential Range are nearly always treacherous, but this year January has been marked by icy conditions, making it difficult or impossible for hikers to self-arrest if they fall.
While it was unclear what caused Powers to fall, Joosen told WCVB-TV that he was wearing ice crampons on his mountaineering boots.
Powers, who was called Scott, was a lifelong resident of Mansfield and a 1984 graduate of Mansfield High School. He worked as a sales consultant for over 15 years at Prime Acura in Walpole, Mass.
USFS officials are reminding outdoor enthusiasts of the safety rules for alpine travel: Be prepared, know your route ahead of time, check weather and avalanche conditions, double check your gear, leave route information with others and let someone know if you change your plans.
Detailed daily avalanche and safety advisories from the USFS Snow Rangers are available at www.mountwashingtonavalanchecenter.org.