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December 29. 2013 2:45PM

Pair survives Tuckerman avalanche after becoming lost in whiteout

Two hikers who became disoriented during a whiteout while descending from a hiking trip to the summit of Mount Washington were carried 800 feet down Tuckerman Ravine by an avalanche Saturday night. The two survived the plunge, an outcome called "very lucky" by rescuers.

Members of the rescue crew said Sunday that the pair were among a group of four hikers. The two became separated from their friends and ended up taking a wrong turn that brought them over "the lip" slope. A section of snow gave way, hurling the two hikers some 800 feet at speeds avalanche experts estimated could have reached 60 miles per hour.

Once the avalanche hit bottom, the hikers began the trek back up the nearby "sluice" slope, which did not have the same avalanche risk as The Lip. Despite injuries that included a variety of sprains and bruises, and at least one broken arm, the two hikers made it about 200 feet before a rescue team met them and provided assistance in getting them to Memorial Hospital for treatment.

Three of the hikers were from Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts and the fourth was from Connecticut.

Forest Service rangers note that Tuckerman was posted for a "considerable" chance of a human-triggered avalanche, chiefly because a snow melt with rain last week was followed by significant snowfall which increased the likelihood that snow would be knocked from its position, triggering an avalanche.


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