April showers bring...freezing rain and deep snow for "unprepared" Mount Washington hikers

Hiker on Tuckerman Ravine Trail, Mountain Washington, USA
The two men were reportedly ill-equipped for the winter conditions on the peak (Image credit: Getty)

Memorial Day might be two weeks away, but winter hasn't loosened its grip on higher elevations just yet, something two hikers learned the hard way on Thursday when they attempted to summit New Hampshire's Mt Washington and ended up calling mountain rescue.

According to a news release by the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, the two Canadian hikers called 911 at approximately 5:18 p.m. reporting that they were wet, tired, and unable to continue due to deep snow and limited visibility of the trail, conditions for which they were ill-equipped.

"The hikers did not take into account winter conditions with below freezing temperatures and rain. They also were not prepared to deal with deep snow," reports the NHFGD. 

Hiking in wintery conditions – even outside of winter – requires insulating layers such as a down jacket, a waterproof jacket and rain pants to fend off precipitation and traction devices such as crampons or snowshoes.

The two men were located at 10:10 p.m. by three conservation officers who escorted them up the Wamsutta Trail to the Auto Road where they were driven down the mountain.

A climber on snow mount washington NH

Mount Washington is the highest peak in the northeastern US (Image credit: Isaac Shiffman)

Why is Mount Washington so dangerous?

Mount Washington is the highest peak in the northeastern US at 6,288 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. 

However, hikers and skiers frequently underestimate the conditions on the mountain. In March, a backcountry skier tragically died amid unforgiving conditions, and a week before, a hypothermic hiker was rescued after trying to scale the peak in sneakers. Learn more in our article on what makes Mount Washington so dangerous.

Julia Clarke

Julia Clarke is a staff writer for Advnture.com 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.