January 20

Rescuers come to aid of four on Mount Washington

Facing below-zero temperatures and 95 mph wind gusts, the group tries to dig into snow for shelter.

The Associated Press

PINKHAM NOTCH, N.H. — Four people from a Pennsylvania university are recovering after they became disoriented while descending New Hampshire’s Mount Washington in below-zero temperatures and 95 mph wind gusts and sought help.

click image to enlarge

This photo released by the U.S. Forest Service shows Mount Washington as it looked on Dec 24, 2013.

The Associated Press

They were part of a group of 15 from Bloomsburg University hiking the mountain, known for its changeable weather conditions, Sunday afternoon. Ten made it to the 6,288-foot summit and began descending in rapidly deteriorating conditions. The four became separated from the rest and faced low visibility and blizzard-like weather. They tried to dig into snow for shelter and activated a GPS satellite messenger device.

New Hampshire’s Fish and Game Department got their message and called state police and the U.S. Forest Service, which coordinated teams to find them. Some of the region’s strongest mountaineers hiked up the mountain’s Lion Head Trail and were then shuttled up the mountain’s auto road by snow vehicles, which helped bring the hikers back. Organizations that helped included the Mountain Rescue Service, the Appalachian Mountain Club, the Harvard Mountaineering Club and the Mount Washington Observatory.

All were brought down by 3:30 a.m. Monday and taken to hospitals as a precaution. The four, all from Pennsylvania, are Wayne Ebling, 59, Cressona; Rhea Mitchell, 22, Danville; Andrew Snyder, 22, York; and Kelly Sloan, 33, Bloomsburg.

“This rescue effort, in some of Mount Washington’s worst weather, was an enormous success that saved lives,” said Forest Service Snow Ranger Christopher Joosen. “It also was another example of volunteer teams working together with federal and state agencies to help mountaineers who are lost and hurt. Each organization played a critical role to the extent that lacking any of their contributions, this mission may have ended very differently.”

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