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HomeGeneral“I Certainly Made Poor Decisions,” Rescued Mount Washington Hiker Recounts Experience

“I Certainly Made Poor Decisions,” Rescued Mount Washington Hiker Recounts Experience

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A Picture of Two Hikers
Source: Fox News

In a candid interview, hiker Cole Matthes recounted his harrowing experience on Mount Washington. He shared how he needed a team of rescuers to save him during an 11-hour rescue. 

“I am extremely grateful to all 11 of the men who saved my life Saturday and am also extremely sorry that they had to risk their lives to save me,” Matthes told the Associated Press. “I certainly made poor decisions and was underprepared for this hike.” 

The 22-year-old from Portsmouth, New Hampshire, explained how he veered off the trail when it got cold and windy. He said he hit a slippery patch of ice under the snow, which caused him to slide down a steep slope for hundreds of feet.

In an online interview, he mentioned that he had hiked a lot before, but not in harsh winter weather. He had started his hike wearing snowshoes with spikes. He had intended to finish the problematic 9-mile Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail loop, which climbs 4,200 feet in elevation.

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“While I did see a group of hikers turn around at the Lake of the Clouds Hut, I decided to continue with other hikers,” Matthes said. “I was not hiking alone at that point, and the weather conditions had not reached their peak.”

New Hampshire Fish and Game mentioned that Matthes was warned to turn back as the conditions deteriorated. But he disregarded the advice.

“Matthes made numerous poor decisions regarding the hike he planned in the White Mountains. Matthes did not have 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,” Conservation Officer Sgt. Glen Lucas stated in the news release. “Matthes saw other groups turn around and say, ‘The weather isn’t worth it.’ But he decided to keep going.”

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However, just before noon, Matthes tumbled, sustaining minor injuries and twisting his ankle before dialing 911. Unfortunately for him, due to poor reception, he only managed to say he was injured and needed help. Conservation officers used GPS coordinates to find Matthes in a drainage ravine, far from the trails, situated west of Westside Trail.

Ryan Presby, who oversees the Mount Washington Cog Railway, said he and the rescue team made three trips on the train. But the winds and temperature were hitting harder, and he feared the train’s diesel engine might freeze, causing the train to halt. To avoid that, he told the rescuers to jump out when they reached their destination immediately. 

ALSO READ: Woman Exploring Virginia Cave Falls 100 Feet to Her Death 

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Levi Frye, a conservation officer, said they had to get crampons for the ice and fierce wind. “We were fighting it the whole time. It could knock you off your feet, especially with a heavy pack on,” Frye said. “The visibility was so bad because of all the snow getting blown around.”

By the time the team reached Matthes, it was already dark. “I was extremely relieved once the first rescuers arrived,” Matthes said. “Even with my shelter, I wouldn’t have lasted through the night in my condition.”

Matthes’ boots were frozen when they saw him. Rescuers had to remove his wet clothes and dress him in dry attire. They provided him with warm water and electrolytes and secured his injured ankle. By 9:30 p.m., they deemed him stable, and they returned to base before 11 p.m. 

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