A storm that hit the Franconia Ridge this past weekend stranded two New Hampshire Hikers overnight forcing helicopter search teams to rescue them from the icy conditions. 36 year old James Osborne and his climbing partner, 55 year old Laurence “Fred” Frederickson, were half way across the two mile ridge on a day hike when a horrible storm swooped in with wind gusts of up to 75 m/h. The storm stranded the men at roughly 4,700 feet overnight. The next morning the men attempted to head down off of the ridge.
Fatigue, however, got the most of the hikers and both ended up face down in the snow and unconscious. This was how the Army National Guard helicopters found them at roughly 7:30pm. Osborne was rushed to the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon and treated for hypothermia. Fredrickson died of hypothermia by the time the helicopters took him off the mountain.
Both men were wearing adequate clothing and had proper climbing gear for a day hike. They did not however plan for the unexpected. They had no overnight gear or survival items with them. They found shelter in the rocks on the side of the ridge during the night and then began to make their way down the trail the next morning.
Doctors for Osborne were amazed at his survival since his core body temperature was less than 75 degrees when he was found. Organs begin to shutdown as the body goes below 90 degrees. Fish and Game representatives say that freak storms are not uncommon in the area and encourage anyone going on a winter hike to take proper precautions and be prepared.
Photo by Ben Kimball, NH Natural Heritage Bureau