Hiker Who Survived 200-Foot Fall on Mount Washington Rescued with Help of Cog Railway

"Without the use of the train, we were looking at a potentially all-night rescue scenario," said one of the first responders

Mt. Washington Cog Railway
Photo: Wikimedia

The rescue time to get an injured hiker to medical care was greatly reduced thanks to a local train company that swooped in to help save the day.

On Sunday afternoon at about 4 p.m., 35-year-old Ashley Furness of Bartlett, New Hampshire, was hiking the west side of Mount Washington — which has the tallest peak in the northeastern U.S. — with a companion when she fell about 200 feet. The hiker suffered “severe injuries,” striking rocks that ultimately prevented her from plummeting farther into a ravine, which New Hampshire Fish and Game conservation officers say would have proven fatal.

Furness’ friend climbed down to where she fell and kept her warm with a blanket while calling 911 for help.

First responders used ATVs and snowmobiles to get as close to their location as possible, but “due to the lack of snow and bare spots were not able to get very far before they had to stop and hike the rest of the way up,” the department explained in a press release.

Desperate to expedite the extraction process for Furness — who could not walk due to her injuries — the rescuers contacted the Cog Railway, a tourism attraction that takes travelers on a scenic route around Mount Washington, for help.

Currently out of season, the railway operators sprung into action to get a locomotive to the rescue site to lend a hand.

The train arrived at approximately 10:15 p.m., and crews hoisted Furness up to a spot next to the tracks so they could load her onto the transportation. Once at the train station, she was taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital.

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“I can’t thank Wayne Presby and his Cog Railway staff enough for assisting in this life-saving rescue,” Fish and Game Region One Lieutenant Mark Ober said in a statement. “Without the use of the train, we were looking at a potentially all-night rescue scenario, which would have included calling in several dozen additional rescuers and technical rope teams just to get the injured hiker down the mountain safely.”

Added Ober: “The temperature was in the teens and the wind was starting to blow which made it feel even colder. I don’t like utilizing private businesses if I don’t have to, but this was an instance where it can’t be overstated that time was of the essence and I felt like the best option was to call the Cog and see if they could help.”

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