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  1. #1
    Registered User
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    01-23-2019
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    Harpers ferry wv.
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    56
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    610

    Default Hiker falls 200ft. During mt. Washington descent

    This came across my YouTube news. Hiker falls 200' got hurt and the cog train came up to take the injured hiker down. New Hampshire fish and game conservation officers said Ashley furness 35 of Bartlett and a partner were walking the tracks down when Ashley tripped and tumbled 200' over rocks and boulders which they say saved her life by keeping her from going over a big fall. Her partner was able to get to her and call for help and keep her warm with a space blanket. They were 2 miles up from the train station so they sent the train up to retrieve her. This was Sunday I believe. Sorry don't know how to put the link up.

  2. #2

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    I was out hiking on Sunday on the other side of Mt Washington on WIldcat which has similar exposure. The snow conditions are pretty classic spring snow. Warm sunny days and cold nights turn the snow into frozen "boilerplate". It was a cold but sunny day, while heading upslope standard microspikes worked pretty well. Normally the sun warms up the top layer of the snow and it gets soft, but underneath its still solid. As the day progresses, this means microspikes are less effective as they only grab into the top layer of the snow which is now partially melted. At some point it feels like ball bearings. I have not seen a list of what gear the hiker was using but my speculation based on experience is the vast majority of day hikers are now using microspikes as a substitute for crampons. The other thing with microspikes are that they have far less traction heading downhill. Combine that with the typical change in snow conditions over the course of the day makes things dangerous.

    If someone slips on a snowfield they do not stop and can build up a lot of speed. I have personally had to assist folks with microspikes head down similar snow fields in the past while I was wearing crampons. The trade off with crampons is they require an odd gait and folks not used to them or with the wrong gear can catch a crampon point on their gear and trip. If they fall and they do not have an ice ax, they too go for a ride, if they attempt to try to catch themselves with the crampon points while sliding down the slope frequently the crampons points catch and their body rotates so their head is facing down. The snow fields frequently end up as either a steep drop off or with a boulder field. Those with a properly leashed ice ax and some practice can usually self arrest but few folks have the gear or the skills. It rapidly transitions from fun to scary when sliding down a slope out of control.

    There is no official trail up and down the cog but folks use it in winter and follow a rough road that runs along the tracks. Up until 20 years ago access to the Cog base station was limited in winter as the road was not plowed or it was privately plowed but gated over near the Highland center several miles away. It added several miles to a hike. The Cog in combination with the state now plows the road and the cog sell access passes for winter recreation so this area has become tempting for folks to head to due to easy access. The cog actively encourages use of area and unlike the Pinkham Notch side of the mountain there is no attempt to educate folks heading up into the exposed snowfields which form far lower along the cog tracks. NH like many other states have recreational liability laws that absolve a property owner of significant liability for guests to sue so its an odd combination where the owner profits from attracting folks to use their property but are absolved of getting sued if someone gets hurt.

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