Rescue efforts halted due to dangerous condition at Tuckerman Ravine

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Search efforts for a Boston man who fell into a deep crevasse Sunday while hiking on Mount Washington were suspended Monday until safer recovery conditions exist.

Tiffany Benna, public affairs officer for the White Mountains National Forest, reported Monday that Norman Priebatsch was hiking about 3:30 p.m. Sunday above the treeline with three others when he fell, slid over a rock band and continued down a slope before falling into a deep crevasse. The group was descending into the northern flanks of Tuckerman Ravine when the accident occurred. The crevasse into which Priebatsch fell is located in the lower half of the ravine between area known as “Lunch Rocks” and “the Lip.”

According to information released Monday by Benna, the other hikers in Priebatsch’s party were joined by several skiers in the area who witnessed the accident. The group went to the crevasse, yelled but heard no response from the fallen hiker and called for help.

First responders included four Snow Rangers with the United State Forest Service, members of the Appalachian Mountain Club Hermit Lake and Harvard Cabin Caretakers and other local bystanders. Mountain Rescue Service and Androscoggin Valley Search and Rescue also assisted in the search effort.

A U.S. Forest Service Snow Ranger outfitted with lights and rescue equipment was lowered approximately 50 feet into the crevasse Sunday night, but visibility was restricted to just 80 feet. The crevasse narrowed below that point due to hanging ice, running water and undermined snow. Rangers determined lowering farther into the crevasse was not possible due to significant safety concerns for rescuers. Benna reported scene safety forced rescue efforts to halt at 11 p.m. Sunday.

As of Benna’s press release issued Monday, numerous hazards have suspended efforts until a safe entry situation exists for rescue crews, and the site will be constantly monitored for changing conditions to allow resumption of recovery efforts.

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