BERLIN, N.H. – An Andover man died over the weekend after he was overcome by wet and cold conditions while hiking through New Hampshire’s White Mountain range.
New Hampshire Fish and Game said 53-year-old Xi Chen was attempting a Presidential Traverse, which is around 20 miles across each mountain in the Presidential Range of the White Mountains.
Chen became severely hypothermic on the Gulfside Trail near Mt. Clay Saturday night into early Sunday morning, prompting what was described as a “high risk rescue” attempt.
Fish and Game officials said Chen texted his wife around 6:30 p.m. to say he was cold and wet and could not continue on, adding he felt he would die without a rescue.
Rescuers worked to reach Chen despite freezing temperatures, precipitation, and winds gusting over 80 MPH.
The first team found Chen unresponsive around 10:30 p.m. They placed a shelter over Chen and tried to warm him up.
Chen did not respond, but showed signs of life, so the team began carrying him toward the summit of Mt. Washington. He was carried over a mile to a waiting truck and driven to an ambulance at the base of the mountain around 1 a.m.
Chen was rushed to an area hospital, but did not survive despite several subsequent hours of rescue efforts.
Rescuers received multiple calls on Saturday for hikers who were cold and wet, the majority of which were in high elevation in the Presidential Range. New Hampshire Fish and Game warned that hikers should use caution to avoid similar situations.
“Sometimes having enough gear is not enough. In weather conditions experienced this weekend it is better to descend and get out of the wind and cold instead of pushing on until it is too late,” Fish and Game said in a statement.