Backcountry skier dies after fall from Tuckerman Ravine

Mar. 10—A woman died after falling 600 vertical feet down Tuckerman Ravine on Mount Washington Saturday afternoon during a skiing trek.

Madison Saltsburg, 20, and her skiing companion "were faced with hard, icy snow surfaces, open crevasse holes, and unforgiving conditions for a slip and fall," according to a U.S. Forest Service news release. She died from traumatic injuries she suffered during the fall.

The release does not say where the woman is from.

The Mount Washington Avalanche Center Snow Ranger team also responded to two other skiers suffering traumatic injuries from rocks and ice while falling down the firm and icy snow surface.

"Multiple other falls in steep mountaineering terrain were also witnessed throughout the day, but did not result in serious injuries," the release said.

Tuckerman Ravine, known for its steep skiing terrain, and other areas of Mount Washington are known for hazards including avalanches, open crevasse holes, icy steep slopes, and falling rocks and ice.

"Conditions in Tuckerman Ravine and around Mount Washington were firm and icy due to lack of recent snow and cold temperatures," the release said.

On Friday, an unprepared 23-year-old man from Kentucky went off trail and into the Ammonoosuc Ravine, also on Mount Washington, and needed to be rescued.

"While descending into the ravine, (Joabe) Barbosa fell and hit his head and face, lost one of his sneakers, and became hypothermic," Fish and Game said.

The Forest Service said such terrain requires mountaineering tools and equipment including crampons, ice axes, and the skills to use them.

On Saturday, the U.S. Forest Service and the MWAC worked to get Saltsburg off the mountain.

Avalanche conditions were low, meaning an avalanche was unlikely, according to the avalanche forecast.

"It's worth paying attention to common springtime mountain hazards when traveling in steep avalanche terrain," the report said. "These include but are not limited to falling rock and ice, undermined snow, and loose-wet avalanches. Some of these hazards are predictable and some are not. Plan accordingly to mitigate the risk and reduce your exposure."

Because of a storm which brought between 8 and 14 inches of snowfall, an avalanche warning was increased to high for middle and upper elevations for Sunday into Monday.

"Steep, east-facing slopes including Tuckerman Ravine, Gulf of Slides, and Summer Lion Head Traverse are areas where destructive and naturally occurring avalanches could occur," the warning read. "These avalanches are expected to be large and have the capability to bury a person."

The center recommended avoiding the terrain.

jphelps@unionleader.com