Hypothermic hiker rescued after trying to climb icy Mount Washington in sneakers

Snowcapped Mount Washington Against Sky
(Image credit: Marc Sadowski / EyeEm)

A man had to be rescued this week after falling while hiking solo on Mount Washington without proper clothing and equipment. The hiker, who has been named as 23-year-old Joabe Barbosa from Kentucky, was alone when he accidentally left the trail and began descending into a drainage ravine instead.

While descending, Barbosa slipped, losing a sneaker and hitting his head and face, but he remained conscious and was able to call 911 for help. Dispatchers sent Barbosa's GPS location and details to conservation officers and a volunteer EMT, who embarked on a rescue mission.

The team eventually found Barbosa, now suffering hypothermia, in the ravine at around 10:30pm. They supplied him with proper boots, winter clothing, food and warm drink, and escorted him back down to safety. He received medical attention and was taken to a community hospital for further treatment. We wish him a speedy recovery.

Details of his condition haven't been released, but according to NBC Boston, officials from NH Fish and Game said he was "not properly prepared for the hike".

Second accident in a month

Barbosa's accident comes just weeks after another solo hiker was rescued from Mount Washington after making a series of "poor decisions". According to Fish and Game officials, 22-year-old Cole Matthes set out without "proper gear, equipment, weather planning, and or proper critical decisions in order to keep himself out of harm’s way and moving in the right direction on a dangerous mountain range."

After deciding to press ahead despite bad weather, Matthes twisted his ankle, leading to a 12-hour rescue operation in 90mph winds and -52F temperatures.

Most search and rescue operations in New Hampshire are carried out for free, but around a dozen each year result in a hefty bill for the hiker saved, and Matthes could be among them. His case is currently under review with the New Hampshire Attorney General's Office. 

“If they decide to charge me, I understand, and at the end of the day, I’m alive because of them," he told Seacoast Online. "I’m in no position to complain.”

Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 15 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better), usually wearing at least two sports watches.