Skier Survives 1,000-Feet Fall Down Main Gully on Mount Washington, NH After Binding Fails on First Turn

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Mount Washington, New Hampshire,
Gulf of Slides, Mount Washington, NH. Credit: Northeast Alpine Start

At approximately 4:00 pm, on Saturday, April 3, 2021, a call was received for a skier that was injured after a tumble down a steep slope in the Gulf of Slides on the south-east side of Mount Washington, NH.

The victim was identified as 61-year-old Arild Hestvik of Newark Delaware. Limited information was known other than the skier had tumbled the entire length of a slide path, an approximate ground distance of 1,000-feet, down a popular skiing route known as “Main Gully”.

According to a comment on Facebook:

He was very fortunate that the the Acadia Mountain Guide and Rescue team just HAPPENED to be in the direct vicinity. They were the first on scene within minutes and provided first aid which most likely saved his life, and packaged the victim while they waited for more rescue teams. This guy was damn lucky they were there. Glad he’s going to be ok.

Due to the mechanism of injury and distance to the trailhead, US Forest Service Snow Rangers took immediate action and called Dartmouth Hitchcock’s Helicopter (DHART) in a hope that they would be able to find a suitable landing zone near the patient.

When Conservation Officers arrived at the staging area, proactive Snow Rangers were coordinating with DHART, trying to find a spot to land. DHART was unable to locate a suitable landing zone due to the height of trees and limited landing zone size. As DHART was in the air, first responders on the scene relayed that Hestvik appeared to sustain multiple injuries but was currently stable.

With this information and due to the known mechanism of injury, a call was made in an attempt to get the National Guard Helicopter. The NG Helicopter is set up with a cable hoist, that allows the helicopter to hover above the ground and pluck a patient off the ground in a rescue litter. Due to the timeliness of response and ensuing darkness, the NG Helicopter was not a viable option.

With neither helicopters being able to assist, it was decided that Hestvik would be transported out over land, down the Gulf of Slides, in a rescue litter. While being carried down the trail Hestvik reported that his boot released from his binding before he even made his first turn, causing him to fall the full length of Main Gully.

Hestvik arrived at the PNVC at approximately 9:00 pm and was loaded into a Gorham Ambulance. He was transported to Androscoggin Valley Hospital.

US Forest Service Snow Rangers and NH Fish and Game Conservation Officers worked on the rescue call together and would like to thank all volunteers for rendering aid in the rescue effort.

This mission serves as a continued example of how patients in the backcountry are aided by fellow users and outdoor enthusiasts.

US Forest Service would like to stress that with the current snow conditions are very firm with long, sliding falls possible. Check the avalanche forecast at www.mountwashingtonavalachecenter.org for current avalanche and other mountain hazard reports.

Mount Washington observatory, New Hampshire
Mount Washington observatory, NH

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