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March 02. 2013 4:33PM

Ice climber dies on Mount Washington

SARGENTS PURCHASE – A New York man was killed while solo ice climbing in Huntington Ravine on Friday, according to White Mountain National Forest officials.


According to officials, James Watts, 24, was climbing without ropes alone in Pinnacle Gully when an avalanche carried him out of the gully.


No one witnessed the accident. His body was discovered by a hiker, an emergency room physician, around 3 p.m., more than 1,000 feet below the gully. The hiker checked for vital signs, WMNF spokesperson Tiffany Benna reported, but found none.


The body was carried out by four U.S. Forest Service snow rangers, a mountain Rescue Service member, and the caretakers of the Harvard Cabin and Hermit Lake shelters. The recovery effort concluded at 6 p.m.


"Our sympathies go out to the family and friends of Mr. Watts," Lead Snow Ranger Chris Joosen said.


The Forest Service issued a safety reminder with the report of the young man's death.


"The White Mountain National Forest operates the Mount Washington Avalanche Center to provide daily safety information and search and rescue services to the public. Although beautiful, the mountains contain many hazards for visitors to be aware of which are reported on www.mountwashingtonavalanchecenter.org by the Forest Service. Avalanches, icefall, weather, undermined snow, and crevasses can all become objective mountain hazards that create a level of risk. Knowing where they are and when they may be worse can help visitors make better decisions for their own safety."


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