PINKHAM NOTCH, N.H., Jan. 5 -- An avalanche roared down a ravine on Mount Washington in northern New Hampshire Friday, killing one hiker and injuring another. Officials said four people, all French Canadians, were crossing a closed trail on Tuckerman's Ravine on the east side of the 6,200-foot mountain, New England's highest peak, when the avalanche struck shortly before 2:30 p.m. EST. Rescue workers had to fight howling winds and sub-zero temperatures to reach the victims. The injured hiker was taken by ambulance from a base camp in Pinkham Notch to a hospital in Berlin, about 15 miles north of the mountain. He was treated for a dislocated shoulder, fractured rib, frost bite and other injuries and was listed in stable condition. The body of the other hiker, who was buried in the slide, was later recovered and brought down the mountain, officials said. New Hampshire Fish and Game officials identified the dead hiker as Alexander Cassan, 19, of Becancour, Quebec province. The injured hiker was identified as 31-year-old Paul LaChance of Three Rivers, Quebec province. The identities of the other two hikers in the party who were not injured were not revealed by authorities. A U.S. Forest Service official said the avalanche apparently was triggered by the hikers themselves when the group veered off the trail in the bad weather and loosened the deep snow on the ravine, a steep wall of ice and snow about 4,000 feet up the mountainside. The Lion's Head trail, which cuts across the ravine, had been closed to hiking two months ago because fall rain storms had caused serious erosion in the area.
Officials said the language barrier may have kept the French-speaking hikers from realizing the trail was off-limits. A weather man at the Mt. Washington Observatory on the summit said the temperature on the peak Friday evening was 32 below zero, with winds of 105 miles an hour, gusting to 118 mph. Steve Piotrow said in a telephone interview the wind chill factor was 'off the chart.'