UPDATED 3:15 p.m.

Maj. Tim Acerno: 603-271-3127
Liza Poinier: 603-271-3211
April 28, 2009

Lost Teen Hiker Found Safe in White Mountains

CONCORD, N.H. - At approximately 10:35 this morning, April 28, 2009, a search team on foot found 17-year-old hiker Scott Mason of Halifax, Mass., who had been lost in New Hampshire's White Mountains since Saturday.  Mason is reportedly in good condition.  His family is in the area awaiting his return to the base of Mt. Washington.

Mason was found on the Sphinx Trail in the Great Gulf Wilderness, headed west back toward the summits of the Presidential Range.  The search team will hike with Mason back to the summit of Mt. Washington, where he will then ride a Sno-Cat down the auto road.  Because of where Mason was located and conditions on the ground, this is the only prudent exit from the mountain.

Conditions in the White Mountains became increasingly treacherous over the course of the search, because rain and rapid snowmelt made many small streams impassable.  Search teams needed to use rope traverses to cross raging waters.  Yesterday's search crews were exhausted, and additional personnel were sent out this morning.

The NH Fish and Game Department coordinated the search. Trained staff and volunteers from Mountain Rescue Service, Androscoggin Valley Search and Rescue, Pemigewasset Valley Search and Rescue and the Appalachian Mountain Club participated in the search.  A Maine Forest Service helicopter conducted an aerial search on Monday afternoon, and a Vermont National Guard helicopter did an aerial search this morning.

Mason was missing for three days, having left the Appalachian Mountain Club's Pinkham Notch Visitor Center at about 8:30 on Saturday morning, intending to complete a 17-mile hike in one day. Mason was hiking alone. His plans included hiking to the summits of Mount Washington and Mount Madison, then returning to the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center.

UPDATED 3:15 p.m. - Mason and the rescue team are safely off the mountain. Mason was interviewed by Fish and Game Conservation Officers and transported to Androscoggin Valley Hospital for a checkup.

According to Fish and Game's Maj. Tim Acerno, Mason handled himself appropriately during his 3-day odyssey. He reportedly realized early in his ascent of Mt. Washington that his plan was overly ambitious. In reviewing his map, Mason decided to shorten his route by taking trails through the Great Gulf Wilderness - trails that he had apparently hiked before, in summertime, when conditions are quite different. Acerno says that Mason then got "stuck" in the gulf, his path cut off by swollen streams, and spent Sunday and Monday trying to find a way out. He was able to make a fire to keep warm. On April 28, Mason realized that he would need to go back out the way he came out, beginning with a hike up Mt. Washington, and that's where he was headed when he and the rescuers found each other on Tuesday morning.

No further information is available at this time.

For information on being safe while hiking, visit www.hikesafe.com.

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Yesterday's story about the search for Mason.

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