CONTACT:
Lt. Todd Bogardus: (603) 271-3361
January 21, 2007

Search for Lost Hiker Continues

CONCORD, N.H. -- The White Mountain search for lost hiker Brian Gagnon, age 24, of Merrimack, N.H., continues on Monday morning (January 22, 2007). Gagnon was last seen by two hiking companions on Saturday, January 20, 2007, on Mt. Lafayette. The hiking party was caught on the mountain in treacherous winter conditions, and Gagnon had separated from his group.

Lt. Todd Bogardus of the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department said that eight search teams, with dozens of trained rescuers, did not locate Gagnon on Sunday. On Monday morning, searchers will continue to focus on the three high-probability valleys in the area.

As of 6:00 p.m. Sunday, some search crews were still out on the trails, with several miles to go before returning to the trailhead.

According to Bogardus, Sunday's extensive search efforts were hampered by cold temperatures and winds up to 60 MPH. The weather forecast for Monday looked slightly better, he said.

The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, Pemi Valley Search and Rescue, Androscoggin Valley Search and Rescue, Mountain Rescue Services and a New Hampshire Army National Guard helicopter are all actively participating in the search effort.

According to Lt. Doug Gralenski of N.H. Fish and Game, Gagnon, a graduate student at Plymouth State University, had set out from Franconia Notch with two friends to hike Mt. Lafayette on Saturday morning by way of the Old Bridle Path.

On the mountain, the hikers -- equipped with cold-weather hiking and camping gear -- encountered severe winds, extremely low temperatures and limited visibility. They decided to turn around and return home, though the initial plan was to hike the Franconia Ridge and spend the night at the Liberty Springs Tent Site.

On the way back down the mountain, the group decided to split up, with Gagnon hiking ahead. His companions returned safely to the trailhead on Saturday afternoon, but Gagnon has not been seen since.

Gagnon was in contact by cell phone, placing calls to his friends at about 4:30 p.m. Saturday and 8:00 a.m. Sunday morning. Gralenski reported that Gagnon told the other hikers that he was below treeline, in a drainage where several brooks join together -- but he wasn't certain which side of the mountain.

The weather continues to be extremely cold, windy, and dangerous in the White Mountains, with below-zero temperatures and high winds. The terrain of the search area is very technical, and those involved with the search are skilled and trained to work in extreme conditions.

No further information is available at this time.

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To learn about safe hiking in New Hampshire, visit www.hikeSafe.com.

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NH Fish and Game Dept.
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