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April 03. 2012 10:10AM

Rescue efforts on hold for hiker at Tuckerman Ravine

GORHAM - The situation has turned grim for a Boston man who fell into a deep crevasse while hiking on Mount Washington Sunday, according to a spokesman for the White Mountain National Forest.

Tiffany Benna, public affairs officer, said rescue attempts remain suspended because of dangerous conditions. Weather conditions, she explained, are more like May than April this year, and melting snow has made it dangerous to try to locate Norman Priebatsch.

Rescue workers are reviewing their options and monitoring conditions but, Benna said, “Right now it looks very grim.”

An attempt was halted Sunday at 11 p.m. because of safety concerns for rescuers. A U.S. Forest Service snow ranger was lowered about 50 feet into the crevasse that night, and though the ranger could see another 30 feet down, Priebatsch was not spotted.

Priebatsch fell about 3:30 p.m. Sunday while hiking above the treeline with three others. He slid over a rock band, down a slope and fell into a deep crevasse. The group was hiking down the northern flanks of Tuckerman Ravine when the accident occurred.

The crevasse is located in the lower half of the ravine between an area known as “Lunch Rocks” and “the Lip.”

Benna said rescuers believe Priebatsch made it into a snow tunnel, formed by running water. However, she explained the crevasse narrows to about four feet and, coupled with melting snow, makes any rescue attempt that much more hazardous.

The other hikers in Priebatsch's party and several skiers witnessed the accident. The group went to the crevasse, yelled but got no response from Priebatsch and called for help.

Priebatsch, a 1972 Harvard Business School graduate, is an entrepreneur who co-founded Tinnix.org and Adeptrix Corp., which focuses on DNA analysis, and is a volunteer mentor at MIT, according to his Facebook page. He is also the father of Seth Priebatsch, founder of SCVNGR and LevelUp.

Four snow rangers with the U.S. Forest Service, members of the Appalachian Mountain Club Hermit Lake and Harvard Cabin Caretakers, and other local bystanders were the first to respond. Mountain Rescue Service and Androscoggin Valley Search and Rescue also assisted in the search effort.

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