Hiker rescue on Mt Washington (was Scary.)

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sierra

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7 Hour Ordeal Ends with
Injured Hiker Rescued Off Mt. Washington with the help of the Cog Railway

Thompson & Meserve’s Purchase – Sunday at approximately 4:00 p.m., Fish and Game Conservation Officers were notified of an injured hiker alongside the Cog Railway on the west side of Mt. Washington, approximately 2 miles up from the Cog Railway Base Station.

The initial call came in via 911 reporting that a 35-year-old female had fallen while descending along the railroad tracks and suffered unknown injuries. The hiker identified as, Ashley Furness, 35, of Bartlett, NH had been hiking with another companion when the accident occurred. Furness and her companion had been descending alongside the railway tracks when she slipped and fell approximately 200 feet towards Burt Ravine, striking several rocks. It was these rocks that ultimately saved her from plunging into the raavine, a fall that would have likely proved fatal. Her companion was able to descend to her position, place a call for help and keep her warm with a space blanket until rescuers arrived.

A rescue effort was initiated and personnel from Twin Mountain Fire & EMS along with several Conservation Officers responded to the call. Twin Mountain utilized their tracked rescue all-terrain vehicle (ATV) to maneuver up along the tracks and made it as far as Jacobs Ladder. Conservation Officers utilizing snowmobiles to get as close as they could to the victim, but due to the lack of snow and bare spots, were not able to get very far before they had to stop and hike the rest of the way in.

The rescue crew arrived at the patient at approximately 7:40 p.m. After an initial assessment conducted by a Conservation Officer EMT, it was determined that Furness had suffered severe injuries and would not be able to walk.

Due to the steep, icy terrain, remote location, and overall conditions, Fish & Game contacted the Cog Railway for the possibility of utilizing one of their trains to expedite the extraction of the patient. Cog Railway personnel agreed to help and called in employees to get a train ready.

In the meantime, a rescue belay was set up with ropes, a litter and other essential gear that was utilized to safely get Furness from the precarious position on the side of the ravine up to the tracks.

Rescuers were able to hoist her up to a location next to the train tracks. The train departed from
the base at approximately 9:30 p.m. and arrived at the patient at 10:15 p.m.

Furness was placed in the train and relayed down the tracks to the awaiting ambulance at the Base
Station arriving at approximately 11:00 PM. From there she was transported by the Twin Mountain ambulance to Littleton Regional Hospital for treatment of her injuries.

I can’t thank Wayne Presby and his Cog Railway staff enough for assisting in this life saving rescue,” said Fish & Game Region One Lieutenant Mark Ober. “Without the use of the train, we were looking at a potentially all night rescue scenario which would have included calling in several dozen additional rescuers and technical rope teams just to get the injured hiker down the mountain safely. The temperature was in the teens and the wind was starting to blow which made it feel even colder. “I don’t like utilizing private businesses, if I don’t have to, but this was an instance where it can’t be overstated that time was of the essence and I felt like the best option was to call the Cog and see if they could help. As they have always done in the past, they did not disappoint and were there when we needed them.”
 
Not sure what she had for traction on. My experience on Wildcat yesterday was my Hillsounds were fine but if I had Katoolas they were probably borderline. Given they were descending, the conditions were probably very solid crust/ice with a light layer of loose partially melted stuff on top. Descending it can be tough without an ice ax with a leash and a good self arrest.
 
Prseby should waive the cost as a Good Samaritan. This kind of positive publicity is priceless for The Cog. Ideally, it's the type of cooperation one would hope for and expect in an emergency.
Well done by all concerned to extricate this woman in a timely fashion. I hope she's ok.
 
I wonder if the hikers had paid the cog facility access fee that replaced the parking fee? In theory if they were paid guests of the cog I expect the Cog had some responsibility for the costs of rescuing their guests. If they had not paid the fee they were trespassing.

Since the base station road has been plowed, the easier accessibility on the west side of Washington has increased the number of winter rescues in that area. A definite attractive nuisance in some ways but a very convenient access for others.
 
Furness is a redline finisher. She posted over in the White Mountain Redlining Facebook group that she had surgery and is recovering.
 
Furness is a redline finisher. She posted over in the White Mountain Redlining Facebook group that she had surgery and is recovering.

Glad she is doing well. Is following the tracks part of what is required for redlining?
 
I have never hiked down the cog before, let alone this time of year.

I imagine it is a pretty straight shot down to the Cog parking lot, whereas the Jewel Trail meanders and feels endless.

For someone hiking Jefferson this time of year, what are the costs and benefits of taking one down versus the other?

Brian
 
Another great help/rescue by the Cog. How many now since 1869? And still no one comes out and thanks them from the many in the hiking communty. Always scorn or other odd comments. They should do this or not do that not to mention "they'll get lot's of publicity" like they really need it. I probably will never see a "thank you and glad they got out of bed at night" to go up a nasty winter laden mountain. Dangerous to as the Cog rack could be frozen and the train derail itself.

If it was me I would of said sorry. Were closed. Call the boys over at the hikers hut.
 
I have never hiked down the cog before, let alone this time of year.

I imagine it is a pretty straight shot down to the Cog parking lot, whereas the Jewel Trail meanders and feels endless.

For someone hiking Jefferson this time of year, what are the costs and benefits of taking one down versus the other?

Brian
Unless I'm mistaken, you are trespassing if you follow the cog rail line.
 
Unless I'm mistaken, you are trespassing if you follow the cog rail line.

You pay inside or feed the iron ranger for hiking / skiing access.

I know Ashley well as I hike and ski with her regularly. She had hiked and skied the cog before. She is tremendously thankful for everyone who was involved in rescuing her.

-Chris
 
Another great help/rescue by the Cog. How many now since 1869? And still no one comes out and thanks them from the many in the hiking communty. Always scorn or other odd comments. They should do this or not do that not to mention "they'll get lot's of publicity" like they really need it. I probably will never see a "thank you and glad they got out of bed at night" to go up a nasty winter laden mountain. Dangerous to as the Cog rack could be frozen and the train derail itself.

If it was me I would of said sorry. Were closed. Call the boys over at the hikers hut.

You are exaggerating people's positions. Support does not need to be unconditional support.

I support the Cog and Auto Road Operations and appreciate both Companies' assistance with rescues and stranded hikers.

I support the Cog parking fees for hikers using their lot.

I do not support either Company building a hotel above the tree line.
 
Hiking down the Cog in winter has always been on the list of winter escape routes for winter presi traverse groups. its a terrain feature that can be located and followed in very nasty conditions. The Jewell and Ammo are both far harder to locate in marginal conditions unless wanded. I and expect many others would not want to have to try the find the opening into the trees from the broad featureless terrain above treeline for Jewell. Obviously the cog is far more exposed to wind but its tends to get scoured by those same winds so it remains prominent.
 
Another great help/rescue by the Cog. How many now since 1869? And still no one comes out and thanks them from the many in the hiking communty. Always scorn or other odd comments. They should do this or not do that not to mention "they'll get lot's of publicity" like they really need it. I probably will never see a "thank you and glad they got out of bed at night" to go up a nasty winter laden mountain. Dangerous to as the Cog rack could be frozen and the train derail itself.

If it was me I would of said sorry. Were closed. Call the boys over at the hikers hut.

Neither Wayne Presby ( Cog) nor Howie Weymss ( Auto Road) will ever say no to a bonafide request for emergency assistance to effect an on-mountain rescue. Ever. Both companies have co-operated and shared their staff and assets for over a century and a half, and it isn't going to stop simply because Wayne and Howie are publicly feuding over power ownership of the summit cone.

The "boys at the hiker hut" have no responsibility what-so-ever to respond on the west side of Mt Washington. Their FEDERAL responsibility, through the US Forest Service, is to report and forecast surface and avi conditions on the East side, in the east snowfields, in Tucks, Huntington and Gulf of Slides, and to assist in rescue on the east flank of the mountain.

Opinions are free. Everyone has one. Calling USFS professional Snow Rangers " boys" certainly expresses a singular opinion.
 
Hiking down the Cog in winter has always been on the list of winter escape routes for winter presi traverse groups. its a terrain feature that can be located and followed in very nasty conditions. The Jewell and Ammo are both far harder to locate in marginal conditions unless wanded. I and expect many others would not want to have to try the find the opening into the trees from the broad featureless terrain above treeline for Jewell. Obviously the cog is far more exposed to wind but its tends to get scoured by those same winds so it remains prominent.

As one of the bad weather escapes, that makes sense if doing a Presi-Traverse,. If escaping weather, trespassing is not your first thought. While wide and easy to follow, it's not really graded for walking, in winter you hope the snow fills in some of the bumps. I'm not thinking it's a preferred route up or down Washington on a good day.
 
As one of the bad weather escapes, that makes sense if doing a Presi-Traverse,. If escaping weather, trespassing is not your first thought. While wide and easy to follow, it's not really graded for walking, in winter you hope the snow fills in some of the bumps. I'm not thinking it's a preferred route up or down Washington on a good day.

I have newer hiked it but have run into many who have in the winter. In the winter if the conditions are right, its the most direct route to the summit and shortest of the three options that start at the base station. Looking at the profiles of the Cog, Ammo and Jewell, the Cog is the steadiest profile which would be expected for a railroad track. The rough road built for the powerline construction that folks usually walk on was "improved" two years ago by the cog up to treeline which caused them some issues with the county although it was ultimately resolved. Over the years I have never heard of any aggressive attempts to prevent hikers from using their strip of privately owned land for climbing to top beyond some signage at the bottom. They claim to operate under special federal railroad regulations which gives them special rights to their right of way so perhaps they do not need to post no trespassing signage like other properties in NH. The claim of special rights was a source of conflict with respect to the summit operations but I have never heard of any attempt to exclude hikers from the right of way during times when the cog is not in operation. The electrical utility clearing is definitely on Cog land and is used by many as more direct route to the summit after it crosses the west side trail. This was a non issue prior to plowing the base station road as the hiker traffic was far lower.
 
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The four thousand Footer Committee has spoken also:http://www.amc4000footer.org/

Part of the reason the GF and I walked the Eastern Trail Saturday from Biddo to Scarborough marshes. About as flat as can be. 16 miles was still a long day and we are pretty sure that it was harder because we had no relief from using different muscles walking up and down hills and around roots and rocks. Still better than sitting on the couch.
 
You are exaggerating people's positions. Support does not need to be unconditional support.

I support the Cog and Auto Road Operations and appreciate both Companies' assistance with rescues and stranded hikers.

I support the Cog parking fees for hikers using their lot.

I do not support either Company building a hotel above the tree line.

Yes, this

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