FRANCONIA — A two-day search for a lost hiker ended successfully Thursday morning when a National Guard Blackhawk helicopter located and then extracted him from the west side of Mount Lincoln in the Walker Brook drainage, commonly referred to as Lincoln’s Throat.
The hiker, identified as Matthew Gunby, 36, of Meredith, had been attempting to make it to the summit of Mount Lafayette on Wednesday when high winds and blowing snow forced him to turn back between Mount Lafayette and Mount Lincoln.
In the white-out conditions near Mt. Lincoln, Gunby lost the trail and ended up falling down a steep, rocky section into Walker Brook drainage, suffering an upper body injury in the process.
Unable to make his way back up to the Franconia Ridge trail due to his injury, Gunby called 911 for help.
Fish and Game Conservation Officers and volunteers from Mountain Rescue Service responded to the call and searched throughout the night and into the early morning hours for Gunby.
The initial GPS coordinate from the 911 call placed Gunby in the Dry Brook drainage, but the GPS coordinate was not accurate and the search became futile, as Gunby’s whereabouts remained unknown. The search was temporarily suspended at 3 a.m.
At daybreak, conservation officers and members of Pemigewasset Search and Rescue prepared for another search for the lost hiker, unaware of what his condition would be after a long, cold night exposed to the elements.
Gunby was able to survive the night and managed to make another call to 911 in the morning, which provided a more accurate GPS coordinate of his whereabouts.
Due to the remote, steep location of this coordinate, and his weakened physical state due to overnight exposure to cold, snowy and windy conditions, a call was made to the National Guard requesting their Blackhawk helicopter.
The Blackhawk responded from Concord and was on station at 10 a.m.
At 10:11 a.m., the helicopter crew had located Gunby, and 15 minutes later, had safely hoisted him into the helicopter and out of danger.
The helicopter landed at the Cannon Mountain parking lot where Gunby was transferred to the Franconia Fast Squad ambulance. He was transported to Littleton Regional Hospital for treatment of his injuries.