Thursday, January 3, 2019

Hikers Rescued After 30, 45-Foot Falls

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Forest Rangers respond to search and rescue incidents in the Adirondacks. Working with other state agencies, local emergency response organizations and volunteer search and rescue groups, Forest Rangers locate and extract lost, injured or distressed people from the Adirondack backcountry.

What follows is a report, prepared by DEC, of recent missions carried out by Forest Rangers in the Adirondacks.

Essex County

Town of Keene
Rescue: On Dec. 27 at 10:58 am, DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch received a request for assistance for a 50-year-old male who sustained injuries from a nearly 45-foot fall while ice climbing the Pitchoff North Tendonitis Route. Companions lowered the subject to safety with belay ropes and requested an evacuation and medical assistance. Lt. Chris Kostoss and eight Forest Rangers were dispatched to the scene and began hiking in to the subject. The Rangers reached the subject and stabilized him in a full body splint. He was carried out to a waiting off-road vehicle and transferred to a waiting Lake Placid Ambulance. By 2 pm, the fallen hiker was transported to Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac for treatment.

Town of Keene
Rescue: On Dec. 30 at 9:34 am, DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch received a direct call from a hiker on the Ridge Trail of Giant Mountain reporting that their hiking partner, a 38-year-old male, had slipped on the ice and fallen 30 feet down a cliff, sustaining back injuries. The subject was mobile and attempting to hike back to the trailhead. Ranger Robbi Mecus responded to the Ridge trailhead and began hiking in to locate the injured hiker. Rangers Scott Van Laer and Megan McCone were staged at the trailhead with rescue equipment to assist if needed. Ranger Mecus located the subject 1/4 mile above the Giant Washbowl. The hiker was in significant pain but cleared of spinal cord injuries and able to walk back to the trailhead under his own power, reaching the trailhead by 12:27 pm. The hiker was transported by Keene Valley EMS to the hospital in Elizabeth for further care.

Warren County

Town of Bolton
Rescue: At 5:45 pm on Dec. 30, a call came in to Ray Brook Dispatch through Warren County 911 from a pair of lost hikers on Cat Mountain along the Lake George Land Conservancy Trails. The couple had found themselves off-trail with no headlamps. The pair’s cell phones had limited battery power, and with darkness setting in, they called for Forest Ranger assistance. Under the direction of Lt. Brian Dubay, Forest Rangers Evan Donegan and Nancy Ganswindt headed to the trailhead near Edgecomb Pond. Ranger Donegan linked up with the subjects at 7:50 pm, and they were soon back at the trailhead with no injuries.

Be Prepared: Properly prepare and plan before entering the backcountry. Visit DEC’s Hiking Safety webpage and Adirondack Trail Information webpage for more information about where you intend to travel. The Adirondack Almanack reports weekly Outdoor Conditions each Thursday afternoon.

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7 Responses

  1. Susan W says:

    Forest Rangers and ECOs have more work these days than ever before, with more hikers taking advantage of our Adirondacks and cell phones allowing troubled hikers to call for assistance. We need more trained Rangers and ECOs, not fewer. The numbers of Rangers have declined significantly since the ’70s while the demands have increased. This is not good.

    • Boreas says:


      You aren’t alone in your assessment. Let your legislators (including the governor) know how you feel! I doubt many of them are familiar with the situation on the ground here, paying more attention to budget numbers and downstate issues. As far as they are concerned, we have sufficient numbers of Rangers.

  2. Jay says:

    Again a case for making people responsible for their actions and if they were made to pay costs of a rescuer, money could be used to add more rangers.

  3. Suzanne Delaney says:

    At the risk of sounding like a cranky old person, there was a time back in the Dark Ages when cell phones didn’t exist and hikers had to rely on a map, compass and common sense.

    • Jim S. says:

      Because of cell phones and social media more idiots are in the woods. Because of cell phones fewer idiots die. Rangers are the heroes.

      • Hope says:

        Really? Would you rather they die out there. You can’t roll back technology. You got to work with it. More Rangers and more education (which is part of Rangers job). Is the answer. Nobody wants a tourist or even an experienced climber, to die in The backcountry.

  4. Don says:

    I want to thank the rangers and first responders for their very professional and rapid response to my accident. I already called Lt Kostoss personally, and asked him to pass the word on. Accidents happen, so its great to have emergency services in place to respond, when we are out enjoying the beautiful state of NY.

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