With thousands of miles of hiking trails and canoe routes, majestic waterfalls, scenic lakes, and countless breathtaking views, the Adirondacks of Upstate New York are a must for any outdoor enthusiast. The largest protected area in the contiguous United States, there’s no shortage of fun to be had in these mountains.
Venturing to the Adirondack Mountains, however, requires thorough planning, especially for those doing so in the fall and winter months. Heavy snowfall and frozen ground on the trails can make hiking exceptionally dangerous.
Because of their elevation, winter hikers need not only snow-friendly cold-weather gear but traction devices as well. These are spiked shoe attachments that minimize the risk of falls while walking through snow, ice, and slippery rock and are recommended for any hikes above 3,000 feet. The lowest High Peak, Mount Couchsachraga, towers above the earth at 3,820 feet, making traction devices a necessity for the area.
Last week, a 63-year-old West Falls resident thought he had prepared well for the treacherous trail leading up to Algonquin Peak, the second-tallest High Peak in the Adirondacks. Unfortunately, however, he didn’t bring traction devices along.
The hiker made his way up to the 5,114-foot summit of Algonquin Peak without incident. But on the way down, he lost his footing on the steep, icy trail. He slipped and fell, plummeting 15 feet before crashing into the ground, severely injuring his leg.
Thankfully, another hiker witnessed the fall and contacted the New York State Forest Rangers on his behalf. Ranger Evans responded to the incident, hiking up Algonquin Peak to rescue the injured hiker. After giving first aid at the scene, Ranger Evans successfully helped the hiker back to his campsite.
Rangers in the Adirondacks Slammed With Multiple Technical Rescues
The Algonquin Peak hiker’s terrifying fall was far from the only recent incident that occurred in the Adirondacks. Earlier this month, in fact, rescue crews found themselves inundated with difficult and dangerous missions.
In a single weekend, a woman fell 80 feet in the High Peaks and was airlifted out of the mountains. Later that day, an injured hiker had to be carried from Cascade Mountain. The day prior, rescuers carried another injured hiker to safety from the trail to Street and Nye Mountains.
While all of that was happening, Andrew Lewis, a seasoned Adirondacks forest ranger, was leading a rescue mission after a man in his late 60s fell near Flume Falls. According to Lewis, missions are becoming more and more difficult, thanks to the increase in advanced gear and skill of those who visit the park.
“Everything going on at the Flume was technical and involved rope work, swift water work, and divers,” the park ranger explained to NCPR. “And then you go to aviation rescues, they’re technical. They require trained crew chiefs, helicopters, trained ground personnel.”
“And even in the carry-out situation, you can’t just grab anyone to conduct a carry-out,” he continued. “They have to have some skill, some competency, some fitness, and some background in it for that to be successful.”