Two young male hikers were attempting to descend the west side of Smuggler's Notch and became stranded in an area of very steep and unstable terrain where no hiking trails are maintained.  The hikers attempted to cross over the top of a steep, wet gully and both slipped, knocking into one another.  One hiker fell roughly 150-ft, landing on a large ledge 40-ft from the base of "Grand Confusion Gully," a popular winter ice climb. He sustained significant head trauma and blood loss, but was conscious and alert. The second subject was uninjured, but stranded at the top of the gully.

A climber in the Notch at the time of the incident was able to access the fallen subject and was in the process of rappelling down with the injured subject when rescue crews arrived at the base of the gully. The patient was then packaged in a vacuum mattress and stokes litter. The litter evacuation required multiple, consecutive, lowering operations. The patient was then transferred to Cambridge Rescue for transport to a Landing Zone at Smuggler's Notch Resort for an air evacuation to Burlington by DHART helicopter.

The team then returned to the base of the gully to rescue the stranded climber but ruled out climbing up the gully to reach him due to wet and unstable conditions.  The team attempted several routes, eventually reaching the climber by making an ascent of "Easy Gully" and then traversing into "Grand Confusion Gully."  A team member rapelled into the gully and then scrambled up to the climber.  He was provided a harness and helmet and secured to an anchor.
A double rope rappel down "Grand Confusion Gully" was established and the subject was brought down the 200' cliff and then hiked out to the Staging Area without incident.  

WCAX article

Team Members RespondingOther Agencies RespondingTime of CallWeather Conditions

Couper, Libby, Rogers, Reinhardt, Ruschp, Van Dyke, Veliko, Westervelt

 Vermont State Police, Cambridge FD, Colchester Technical Rescue 

20:00-03:30  Warm and humid

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