Lieutenant Mark Ober
October 18, 2023
Sargent’s Purchase, NH – Tuesday, October 17 at approximately 5:20 p.m., NH Fish and Game Conservation Officers were notified of an injured hiker on the steep section of the Huntington Ravine Trail approximately 1,200 feet below the junction with Alpine Garden Trail at a location known as the Fan. The call came in via 911 from the lone hiker reporting that he had fallen and suffered an unknown leg and head injury. The weather up in the ravine was in the 30s with rain, a low cloud ceiling, and snow at the upper elevations.
A rescue response was initiated with Conservation Officers and volunteers from Mountain Rescue Services (MRS), Androscoggin Valley Search and Rescue (AVSAR), and Pemi Valley Search and Rescue (PVSAR) responding.
The patient, identified as Izem Guendoud, 31, of Oakland, CA, had been hiking up the Huntington Ravine Trail when he lost his balance on the steep, wet rock slab and slid several feet into rocks off the side of the trail. Guendoud was not prepared for a hike of this caliber and did not possess the necessary gear to hike the toughest trail in the White Mountains, particularly with the wet, cold and icy conditions.
Several rescuers utilized the Auto Road to access the top of Huntington Ravine Trail and hiked down to Guendoud. However, this was extremely challenging and technical, requiring ropes and belays set up by MRS members. Once on scene, the decision was made to place Guendoud in a litter and carry him down the trail instead of trying to hoist him up utilizing ropes and other climbing gear. Other rescuers came in from below by hiking up the Tuckerman Ravine Trail to the Huntington Ravine Trail.
The first rescuers arrived at Guendoud’s location at approximately 9:00 p.m. It took several hours to set up ropes and gear to ensure a safe descent. After a herculean effort, the rescue crew started carrying him down the trail at 11:15 p.m.
Throughout the night and into the early morning hours, 22 members of the carry crew struggled through the rough conditions of on and off rain showers, freezing temperatures, steep terrain, and boulder fields of the ravine. After 7 hours of steady carrying, they finally made it to a waiting ATV parked on the Sherburne Ski Trail at approximately 6:15 a.m. on Wednesday, October 18.
Guendoud was placed on the ATV and slowly driven down the trail to the parking lot of the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center. From there he was placed in the Gorham EMS Ambulance and transported to Androscoggin Valley Hospital in Berlin.
The Huntington Ravine Trail is considered the toughest trail in the White Mountain National Forest and should not be attempted by anyone who does not have the experience, skills, and ability to rock climb and to utilize ropes, harnesses, and other technical gear. Signs have been posted at both the lower and upper entrances to this trail in an effort to dissuade casual hikers from attempting this hike.
A carryout rescue in this environment is very dangerous and taxing on the rescuers and the potential risk of injury to rescue personnel is elevated. Trying to navigate the obstacles and debris in Huntington Ravine at night, in the rain is not something that should go unnoticed. The volunteers and Conservation Officers who took part in this rescue should be commended on their efforts.
Hikers are encouraged to be especially cognizant of changing temperatures and daylight at this time of year. Be prepared and bring the 10 essential items when going out for any hike. For more information visit www.hikesafe.com.