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January 20, 2005
When I was a kid, my mother used to say I'd used
up one of my nine-lives when I took a particularly nasty spill
on our bikes. My grandmother, the Hospers family "Madame Queen",
said I'd used up a couple that time I tried to fly my homemade
biplane off the top of the house in Macon, Georgia. My wife said
the exactly same thing when she heard about the ice climber who
fell off Chia on Saturday and walked out of the hospital under
his own power later that day!
I must say that it was a bad weekend for winter sports up here
in the North Country. First, climber Gerald Prutsman fell while
attempting to place a screw in a very thin Chia at Frankenstein
on Saturday. Reportedly he fell somewhere between 35 and 40 feet,
onto his back, striking his head with enough force to break his
helmet and knock him unconcious for several minutes. Fortunately
there were many climbers in the immediate area who all responded,
including a local doctor. The carry-out was managed by local guide
Marc Chauvin. Prutsman was taken to Memorial Hospital in North
Conway, where he was examined and subsequently released. That was
certainly worth a life.
Another serious accident occurred at Lake Willoughby on Saturday.
A Boston climber, Dennis Maher, took a significant fall while leading
the left side of Left Tablet. Reportedly, in the process he pulled
two screws that were placed in mediocre ice and fell a long ways.
Apparently he broke somewhere around 18 bones, including ribs,
pelvis, sacrum, and lumbar vertebrae. There is no cell service
and no rescue cache in the vicinity. This prompted the 8 climbers
who rushed to his aid to do a manual carry-out, down a very steep
and icy slope, with no litter, placing him in a car and driving
him to the hospital in St. Johnsbury. I can only imagine how painful
that must have been! Word has it that he will recover fully, tho
surely not in time for any more climbing this season. With the
definite possibility of having compounded the injury during a rough
carry-out I would say that this one is worth 2 lives. Dennis is
very fortunate not to be in a chair blinking his eyes for the rest
of his life!
NOTE - There is a thread on NEClimbs discussing the possibility
of placing some rescue caches in strategic areas up along the cliff
at Willoughby. If this becomes a real possibility I'll probably
be putting up some method of asking you all for donations, so be
A ski-mountineering accident reportedly occurred in Huntington
Ravine on Sunday when 2 unnamed individuals attempted to ski down
Central Gully. The first was successful, skiing the gully, navigating
the fan and continuing down the trail to Pinkham. The second was
not as fortunate, managing the gully but falling in the fan. Apparently
he struck one or more rocks, causing himself severe injury. Fortunately
there were climbers in the area who called for help and assisted
in the rescue. It's just lucky that there were people around, as
his partner was long-gone! I don't have any more info on this one.
I figure this is worth at least one life, maybe two.
So what does this tell us? Is it that ice climbing & ski mountaineering
are too dangerous and that we should quit? NAAAAAH! Should we be
more careful? Well sure, when we can. Basically we all know the
risks for these things and we take them of our own volition. I
guess for me the thought is that s**t happens. Just be careful
out there and know when NOT to climb.
Up on one of the Mount Washington Valley's finest crags and want to know what that climb you're looking at is? Or maybe you're on your way up from Boston and want to check out the Ice Report for your upcoming weekend plans. Or more likely, you're at work just want to daydream about your next adventure. Well if you have a smart phone handy, you can get to NEClimbs from anywhere you have cell service. While it doesn't offer every single feature of the site and it's not an "app", in mobile form, it does do a whole lot and is very useful. Here is the live link to the mobile version of NEClimbs:
Check it out and if you have issues on your specific phone, please feel free to let me know.
Join us and LIKE us on Facebook. I'll try and post some interesting pix every Thursday and the latest Ice Report in the season, tho certainly not the whole Report. Here's where you can check it out:
Have fun and climb safe,
The White Mountain Report
North Conway, New Hampshire
|Anytime the gear makes climbing too easy and success too certain, the best climbers will voluntarily limit their use of it.|