SARGENT'S PURCHASE — New Hampshire Fish and Game rescued two hikers in their 70s who became exhausted and cold while hiking on Mount Washington last Friday night.
Fish and Game also assisted in several other rescues over the course of the weekend.
But the most serious incident occurred on Friday, July 6. At about 8:45 p.m., a 911 call was made by a man in California who who reported that his 77-year-old father and the father’s 71-year-old hiking companion had called him requesting a rescue.
The only other information received before the call was dropped was that they were about a mile from the summit of Mount Washington on the Tuckerman Ravine Trail.
Fish and Game said attempts to contact the distressed hikers were unsuccessful and a search effort was initiated.
Searchers from the Appalachian Mountain Club, Androscoggin Valley Search And Rescue, and Fish and Game searched the trails in the vicinity of where the hikers had last reported.
AMC personnel hiked in from the Hermit Lake and Lakes in the Clouds huts, while the AVSAR volunteers and conservation officers took the Mt. Washington Auto Road to the summit and searched from the top down.
The searchers endured falling temperatures and 50-to-60-mph winds in an attempt to locate the hikers.
At 11:20 p.m. the couple were located off the Tuckerman Ravine trail by AVSAR and Fish and Game members.
According to Fish and Game, both hikers were woefully unprepared for the conditions, dressed in shorts and light hiking apparel and suffering from various stages of hypothermia.
The female hiker, identified as Alice Rubenstein, 71, of Pittsford, N.Y., was in a serious hypothermic condition and required a carryout.
The male hiker, Arthur Stern, 77, of Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., was initially able to walk,but later required a litter carryout as well.
A request for additional rescuers was initiated for the demanding, 1-mile, up-hill carry to the summit. Over 20 volunteers from AVSAR, AMC and Mountain Rescue Services answered the call.
The crew was able to carry Rubenstein all the way up to the Auto Road, arriving early Saturday morning at 2:45 a.m.
She was placed in a private vehicle and driven down to the entrance of the Auto Road, where she was transferred to a Gorham EMS ambulance. She was taken to Androscoggin Valley Hospital in Berlin.
While Rubenstein was being driven down the Auto Road, the rescue crew returned down the Tuckerman Ravine trail and proceeded to package Stern in a litter and carry him up to the Auto Road, arriving at 3:35 a.m.
He was also driven to the base of the Auto Road and evaluated by medical personnel from Gorham EMS. He ultimately refused further medical treatment.
According to Lt. Mark Ober of Fish and Game's Region One office in Lancaster: "The extraordinary dedication and teamwork displayed by the group of volunteers from AMC, AVSAR, and MRS, who were woken in the middle of the night to come out in less than ideal conditions to the top of a mountain, for the sole purpose to help a fellow human being in need is the only reason Alice Rubenstein and Arthur Stern are alive today."
It wasn't Fish and Game's first rescue on Friday. At about 3 p.m., two 35-year-old hikers called 911 after becoming stranded on the Huntington Ravine Trai
Abby Finis and Julia Eagles, both of Minneapolis, had been hiking up the Tuckerman Ravine Trail when they decided to take a detour up Huntington Ravine Trail instead.
This trail is commonly referred to as “the most difficult trail in the White Mountains,” according to New Hampshire Fish and Game. However, Finis and Eagles read the sign explaining the difficulty level and decided to attempt the hike anyway.
After the call to 911 was made, two Fish and Game conservation officers responded with ropes and technical gear to assist them.
In addition to not being able to negotiate the steep terrain, the hikers failed to have proper gear for a hike to the summit of Mount Washington, being dressed in shorts and with little else in their packs except water, Fish and Game said.
Winds were sustained at the higher elevations at 40-plus mph with occasional gusts reaching 60-70 mph. The temperature at the base of the mountain was in the 70s, but the temperature at the summit was in the lower 40s.
The officers reached the stranded hikers at 5:52 p.m. After providing them with warm clothing, they guided the pair up the steepest section of the trail and hiked the remaining way up to the Mt. Washington Auto Road, arriving at 6:40 p.m. Finis and Eagles were driven off the mountain and back to Pinkham AMC where they had started from earlier in the day.
Two days later, Fish and Gamewas notified of an injured hiker on the Flume Slide Trail in Lincoln.
Terrance Hauserman, 62, of Needham, Mass. was hiking there Sunday with her daughter when she fell on the trail and suffered a non-life-threatening injury.
Passerbys assisted the injured party and called 911 for help. Conservation officers and volunteers from the Pemigewasset Valley Search & Rescue Team responded to the trailhead to provide assistance.
The rescue party reached the injured hiker on the Flume Slide Trail just after 1 p.m., where they stabilized Hauserman’s injury and helped her descend.
The hikers were prepared with adequate equipment, water and food. The group reached the trailhead safely at 4 p.m. where Hauserman was treated by medics from the Linwood Ambulance Service and then transported to Speare Memorial Hospital in Plymouth for additional treatment.
Fish and Game would like to remind anyone enjoying the outdoors this summer to plan ahead and make safe decisions. Hikers in the White Mountains should be prepared for changing weather conditions and always have the ten Hike Safe essentials. Hikers can visit hikesafe.com/ for more information.