Backcountry skier dies amid "unforgiving conditions" in another hazardous weekend on Mount Washington

Mount Washington in Winter
The college student fell roughly 600 feet down Tuckerman Ravine, a steep bowl popular with expert skiers (Image credit: ScottOrr)

Hazardous conditions on Mount Washington this weekend proved fatal for one backcountry skier, who died on Saturday after plunging down a steep ravine. Several other incidents and rescues took place on the same day, which came one day after we reported on a hypothermic hiker who was rescued while trying to climb the icy mountain in sneakers.

According to a news release by the US Forest Service, 20-year-old Madison Saltsburg died of traumatic injuries she sustained after falling 600 feet down Tuckerman Ravine, a steep bowl popular with expert skiers.

"Saltsburg and her skiing companion were faced with hard, icy snow surfaces, open crevasse holes, and unforgiving conditions for a slip and fall," writes the USFS, who worked with mountain rescue into the night in increasingly treacherous conditions to evacuate Saltsburg's body.

"Throughout the year, this very steep ski mountaineering terrain, and other areas around Mount Washington are subject to ever changing mountain hazards. These commonly include avalanches, open crevasse holes, icy steep slopes, and falling rocks and ice."

The report also details another callout on Saturday where teams responded to two skiers who had sustained traumatic injuries in falls on the icy snow. Meanwhile, multiple other hiker and skier falls were witnessed throughout the day that did not result in serious injuries.

The USFS warns backcountry skiers and hikers that while avalanche risk is currently low on the mountain, springtime mountain conditions can be the most hazardous, due to the freeze/thaw cycle, falling ice and crevasses in the snowpack. They urge all skiers and mountaineers to carry navigation tools such as a map and compass as well as crampons, an ice axe and a helmet in steep mountaineering terrain. Anyone venturing into avalanche-prone terrain must also carry avalanche beacon, shovel, and probe.

A climber on snow mount washington NH

Springtime mountain conditions can be the most hazardous (Image credit: Isaac Shiffman)

Why is Mount Washington so dangerous?

Mount Washington is the highest peak in the northeastern US at just over 6,000 feet tall, and has claimed more lives than any other mountain in the country. It is a strenuous hike and the mountain is frequently home to some of the worst weather in the world. Learn more in our article on what makes Mount Washington so dangerous.

Julia Clarke

Julia Clarke is a staff writer for and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.