Early-season excitement, limited terrain, and poor visibility were all contributing factors Sunday when a skier suffered serious injuries during an avalanche on Mount Washington in New Hampshire. This, according to the Mount Washington Avalanche Center.
According to MWAC officials, it was at approximately noon on Dec. 5 when a skier triggered a soft slab avalanche near the top of Left Gully. The skier was caught and carried a short distance before triggering a second, larger avalanche. The skier was carried 800 vertical feet and was unharmed.
At the same time, a solo skier was halfway up the gully, transitioning from climbing to skiing, when he or she was hit by the avalanche. The skier was carried 450 vertical feet, hitting exposed rocks along the way. The skier did have serious injuries, coming to a stop on top of the avalanche debris pile.
“If we have new snow and wind you are likely to find slabs of drifted snow with the potential to be unstable, resulting in an avalanche when additional load is added such as a skier or climber,” the MWAC wrote in its analysis of the rescue. “This can and does occur before the Mount Washington Avalanche Center issues a daily avalanche forecast with a hazard rating.”