Injured ice climber rescued by NH Fish Game after 50-foot fall from Cannon Cliff

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Rescuers on Cannon Cliff, assisting an injured ice climber.
Rescuers on Cannon Cliff, assisting an injured ice climber.

FRANCONIA, NH – On February 4, 2017 just before noon NH Fish & Game Conservation Officers were notified of an injured ice climber on the Black Dike ice climbing route on Cannon Cliff. Nearby climbers contacted 911 when a climber fell 50-60 feet causing a lower leg injury that would not allow for him to continue unaided. The climber was near the top of the Black Dike climbing route when the incident occurred, and nearby climbers advised they would be able to lower the climber to the base of the cliff.

Shortly after 1 p.m. Conservation Officers, aided by a team of volunteers from the Pemi Valley Search and Rescue Team, and other climbers who were in the area, started up to the base of the cliff to assist with the challenging carryout through difficult terrain. At 2:30 p.m. the rescue crew arrived with the patient, identified as Nick Pearson, 47, of Amherst. After stabilizing the injury, Pearson was loaded into a litter and was carried down the mountain. Shortly after 5 p.m. the rescue crew arrived at the bike path where Pearson was taken the rest of the way to the trailhead by snow machine. Franconia Life Squad then transported him to Littleton Regional Hospital for evaluation.

Cannon Cliff is the largest vertical rock face in the Northeast, at 1,000 feet high and 1 mile long.

Fourteen hikers, described by NH Fish & Game as 'good Samaritans,' assisted in carrying an injured ice climber from Cannon Cliff on Saturday.
Fourteen hikers, described by NH Fish & Game as \’good Samaritans,’ assisted in carrying an injured ice climber from Cannon Cliff on Saturday.

Pearson told Conservation Officers that as he was finishing the climbing route he secured his ice axes into frozen hard snow and, when he tried to pull himself up, the ice axes gave way causing a 50-60 feet fall before his protection stopped the fall. This rescue was a true team effort as 14 climbers, who happened to be in the area, joined in the rescue to help the five volunteers from Pemi Valley Search and Rescue Team and seven Conservation Officers.

While conducting the Cannon Cliff Rescue a call came in at 3:20 p.m. about a hiker in need of assistance on the Carriage Road on Mount Moosilauke in Benton. A hiker, identified as Nicholas Kuhl, 32, of Somerville, Mass.,  had injured himself as he was trying to ski down the Carriage Road after summiting Mount Moosilauke and could not continue due to a lower leg injury. As calls were made it was learned that by chance a group of hikers who were climbing the Carriage Road to go sledding came across the injured hiker on the trail. They were able to stabilize the injury and then utilize one of the sleds they had brought to transport the hiker to Breezy Point Road where they arrived at 5:45 p.m. and met the Warren/Wentworth Ambulance.

Kuhl, along with a companion, had summited Mount Moosilauke and had planned to ski down the Carriage Road and Snapper Trail back to their vehicle at the Ravine Lodge when just below the south peak of Mount Moosilauke he injured his lower leg.

A reminder from NH Fish & Game that outdoor enthusiasts should consider purchasing a Hike Safe card, which helps support Fish and Game search and rescue activities. For safe hiking tips and a list of essential gear, visit Hikers are reminded that days are short and need to allow for sufficient time to complete their hikes in daylight or prepare accordingly with appropriate gear. Also winter weather has reached the mountains and micro spikes and warm clothing is a necessity.

About this Author

Carol Robidoux

PublisherManchester Ink Link

Longtime NH journalist and publisher of Loves R&B, German beer, and the Queen City!