Injured hiker rescued from White Mountains during 13-hour effort in ‘dangerous’ conditions

Local News

“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.”

New Hampshire officials issued a stark warning this week to hikers headed to the White Mountains after rescuers worked for nearly 13 hours in “dangerous” conditions to aid an injured hiker who they said was not prepared for the trail he attempted.

A 911 call from the lone, injured hiker came in around 5:20 p.m. on Tuesday to New Hampshire Fish and Game Conservation officers, according to the Department of Fish and Game. The hiker, Izem Guendoud, 31, of Oakland, California, reported that he was on a steep section of the Huntington Ravine Trail, about 1,200 feet below the junction with the Alpine Garden Trail at a location known as “the Fan.” He told first responders that he was hiking up the trail when he lost his balance on the steep, wet rock slab, and slid several feet into rocks off the side of the trail, suffering an unknown leg and head injury. 

According to authorities, the weather at the time was in the 30s with rain, a low cloud ceiling, and snow at the upper elevations. 

“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,” officials with the Department of Fish and Game wrote in a statement.

To reach the 31-year-old, volunteers and officers Mountain Rescue Services, Androscoggin Valley Search and Rescue, and Pemi Valley Search and Rescue used the mountain’s Auto road to access the top of the Huntington Ravine Trail to hike down to his location. 

“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,” officials said. “Other rescuers came in from below by hiking up the Tuckerman Ravine Trail to the Huntington Ravine Trail.”

The first rescuers arrived at the Oakland man’s location around 9 p.m. After several hours of setting up ropes and gear to descend, the crew started carrying him down the trail around 11:15 p.m. 

Through the rest of the night and early morning, officials said the 22 rescuers working to carry Guendoud “struggled through the rough conditions of on and off rain showers, freezing temperatures, steep terrain, and boulder fields of the ravine.”

After seven hours, they made it to a waiting ATV parked at the Sherburne Ski Trail around 6:15 a.m. on Wednesday. Guendoud was taken slowly down the trail in the ATV and eventually taken to Androscoggin Valley Hospital in Berlin.

Officials emphasized that the Huntington Ravine Trail is considered the “toughest trail” in the White Mountain National Forest and should not be attempted by those who don’t have “the experience, skills, and ability to rock climb and to utilize ropes, harnesses, and other technical gear.”

Hikers should be especially aware of the changing temperatures and daylight during this season, they said.

“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,” officials said. “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.”