New Hampshire Fish & Game Request Hiker Stranded On Mount Washington Pay For Rescue Mission

Hikers in Washington
WMUR-TV

Tragedy nearly struck on New Hampshire’s Mount Washington last Saturday.

A 22 year old named Cole Matthes was attempting to hike in the Ammonusuc Ravine on the western slope of the mountain when he fell into a drainage ravine. Unable to get back to the trail, Matthes called 911 and a rescue team sprung into action.

The weather was awful, wind chills reaching 51 below zero with sustained gusts of 90+ miles per hour and an actual temperature of -9, not to mention the feet of snow already on the ground.

To save the rescue crew miles of hiking, a special train operated by The Cog Railway was brought into action. Crews mounted a snow blower on the front and it took the rescue crew up the mountain, saving precious time as Matthes tried to survive in the ravine.

Matthes was eventually able to make his way to the Lake Of The Clouds emergency hut nearby and called 911 to tell the rescue team about his new location but stressed he was still very much in need of help.

The crews eventually made their way up the mountain via the train and then hiked to his location, where they found him suffering from hypothermia and frostbite in his frozen clothes.


He was stripped of his clothes and put in a warm outfit provided by the rescue team. A second team arrived some point later and all worked to save his feet and other extremities. It took over 3 hours just to warm him up.

Eventually, they were able to bring him down from the mountain and get him into an ambulance where he was again checked for injuries. Despite recommendations from all medical staff, he refused to go to a hospital and signed off to be released just after 11:30pm. The entire rescue mission took nearly 12 hours.

Obviously, it’s incredible what that team of 11 rescuers was able to do. Matthes would certainly have died had they not been able to find him and warm him up; he was just hours away from death.

But that doesn’t tell the whole story.

Matthes admitted making a ton of mistakes during this hike which lead to getting himself in this predicament. For starters he was inexperienced and didn’t wear the gear needed to go down the trail. He also saw numerous other groups turn around but decided to continue solo to the end.

NH Fish and Game Sgt. Glenn Lucas said:

“Matthes made numerous poor decisions regarding the hike he planned in the White Mountains. Matthes did not have the proper gear, equipment, weather planning, or critical decisions to keep himself out of harm’s way and move in the right direction on a dangerous mountain range.

Matthes saw other groups turn around and say, ‘The weather isn’t worth it.’ But he decided to keep going.”

Because of Matthes decisions, the NH Fish and Game Department has requested that he be financially responsible for the cost of the rescue, according to WMUR.

I don’t know how cost typically works for rescues like this, but I’m betting it depends on the actions of the hiker, and in this case, it seems reasonable that he would have to chip in at least a decent amount, and I’m sure an operation like this costs a pretty penny.

If you’re going to go on a hard hike in freezing cold conditions, please be smart. Gear up with First Lite’s collection of insulated jackets, merino wool baselayers, and high quality foot and headwear. The first step in staying safe is using your head, but if you do decide to brave the cold, First Lite should be your first stop.

Even though the weather is warming up a bit around the country, if you’re still in the middle of winter, please be smart and don’t get yourself stranded.

Not only is it dangerous, but you may wind up on the hook for the cost of the rescue.

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