mt-washington-winter2.jpg

Mount Washington in winter. (FILE PHOTO)

SARGENT'S PURCHASE — Members of N.H. Fish and Game’s Advanced Search and Rescue Team along with U.S. Forest Service personnel and volunteers from Mountain Rescue Services located the body of a missing backcountry skier in Ammonoosuc Ravine at approximately 6 p.m. last Wednesday. The rescue crew had been searching for the skier since early afternoon.

The skier, who on Thursday was identified by Fish and Game as 54-year-old Ian Forgays of Lincoln, Vt., was reported missing by his friends Tuesday night after failing to return home or answer repeated calls.

Initial reports indicated that Forgays had planned to ski either Ammonoosuc Ravine drainage or Monroe Brook drainage on Monday.

After the missing person report was initiated, a search of multiple trailhead parking lots Tuesday night was conducted in an attempt to locate the skier’s vehicle to confirm he was still in the backcountry.

The search that night failed to locate his vehicle, which was ultimately discovered Wednesday morning in the snow-filled Ammonoosuc Ravine parking lot.

When his vehicle was located, a search effort was initiated, and rescue personnel hiked up into both the Ammonoosuc Ravine drainage and the Monroe Brook drainage despite potential avalanche danger in an effort to locate the skier.

The searchers spent several hours scouring both drainages, until an avalanche beacon signal was detected at approximately 4:30 p.m.

The crew had to dig down through approximately 13 feet of packed snow and debris before ultimately discovering Forgays' body. Several more hours of digging ensued to extract the body.

The search party made it down to the Base Station parking lot at approximately 9 p.m.

Fish and Game would like to remind the public that backcountry skiing is a risky venture that should only be attempted by the most prepared and experienced skiers.

This skier did have years of experience and was prepared, which was evident by his use of an avalanche transceiver, but skiing in avalanche conditions is never recommended and can be extremely dangerous. Without the transceiver, it is possible that Forgays' may not have been located until the snow completely melted in the spring.

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