Search ends successfully for missing hikers on Mount Lafayette
FRANCONIA - Two Canadian hikers missing on Mount Lafayette since Sunday afternoon in extreme winter conditions were rescued by searchers Monday afternoon.
New Hampshire Fish and Game Department Conservation Officers, The New Hampshire Army National Guard and members of Mountain Rescue Service and Androscoggin Valley Search and Rescue Teams searched throughout the day and night after receiving an emergency locator beacon activation distress signal.
The search effort began Sunday evening after a call was received by N.H. State Police Troop F advising they had received notification of a personal location device activation in the area of Mount Lafayette.
The location device is registered to Bruno Boutin, 26, of Sherbrooke, Quebec. Boutin and hiking companion Denny Daigle left Sherbrooke at 6 a.m. Sunday, traveling to New Hampshire to hike Mount Lafayette.
The beacon is a device that, when activated, transmits a distress signal and provides coordinates to rescuers to help expedite a rescue effort.
Searchers worked throughout the night in extreme winter conditions and very difficult terrain. Sub-zero temperatures, high winds and drifting snow complicated search efforts.
Additional search teams deployed Monday morning along with a Blackhawk helicopter and crew from the N.H. Army National Guard. Shortly after noon, the helicopter team spotted the hikers who were well off the trail in the Lafayette Brook drainage approximately 1.5 miles up hill from Interstate 93 (Franconia Notch Parkway). The men were hoisted into the helicopter from difficult terrain marked by deep snow and dense spruce cover. While exhausted from the ordeal, both hikers were unharmed.
According to Conservation Officer Lt. James Goss, the men were reported to be well equipped for winter conditions. They had hiked to the summit of Mount Lafayette where they encountered severe winds and blowing snow. They lost the trail and descended into the Lafayette Brook drainage. Due to the extreme conditions and the difficult terrain, they made the decision to activate their beacon. They then prepared as best they could to spend the night in the frigid conditions and stay as warm as possible.