On Friday, September 14, members of multiple search and rescue teams worked together to rescue an injured hiker from treacherous terrain near the summit of New Hampshire’s Mount Washington.
At approximately 1 p.m., James Shuffleton, 64, of Hampstead, New Hampshire, was hiking with a friend on the Huntington Ravine Trail. The two had hiked up through Huntington Ravine and were within one-tenth of a mile of completing their ascent through very steep ground prior to arriving at the Alpine Garden. While attempting to climb up a rock slab that was part of the trail, Shuffleton slipped and slid down the rock face, landing hard at the bottom. As a result of the fall, he sustained a significant leg injury. Instantly knowing that he could not walk, he directed his friend to seek help while he attempted to make a call from the scene.
Conservation Officers from the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department were alerted to this incident at approximately 1:10 p.m. After speaking with Shuffleton via cell phone, a rescue effort was quickly initiated. A volunteer from the Androscoggin Valley Search and Rescue Team (AVSAR) was immediately dispatched to the scene to render first aid and assess the situation. The volunteer reached Shuffleton at approximately 3 p.m. and determined that his injury was severe and that he was located in very steep and difficult terrain. As a result of this information, conservation officers gathered personnel for a technical rescue and carryout.
Volunteers from the Androscoggin Valley Search and Rescue Team (AVSAR), Mountain Rescue Service (MRS), and Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC), along with additional Conservation Officers, all responded to the scene. Shuffleton was subsequently placed in a litter and carefully raised with ropes up 600 feet of steep and rocky terrain. The rescue was labor intensive and carefully executed, which resulted in Shuffleton arriving at a landing zone just below the summit of Mt. Washington at approximately 6:45 p.m.
Once at the landing zone, the rescue crew was met by a D.H.A.R.T. helicopter. Shuffleton was subsequently taken by air to the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center for further evaluation and treatment of his injuries.
As a result of the rescue effort, authorities found Shuffleton to be a prepared hiker who had brought with him good gear and a good plan. He had purchased a “Hike Safe” card (voluntary hiker insurance) prior to his trip and was able to make a direct call to the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department when the need for help arrived. He brought with him good gear and had done research on the trail prior to the hike. Shuffleton had picked a great weather day for his trip and had gotten an early start. These preparations ultimately helped him out when his hike was cut short by an unexpected event.
Shuffleton’s son later posted on Facebook, thanking rescue crews for their efforts. He said his father is resting and recovering in the hospital.