3 Climbers Recovering After Suffering Through NH Avalanche

(NECN:  Lauren Collins – North Conway, NH) It happened at dusk Thursday as the first of four teams neared the top of Huntington Ravine on Mt. Washington.

"I saw the beginning of the avalanche and I yelled 'avalanche' to everybody," recalls Thom Pollard from the warm comfort of the Stairway Café in North Conway, N.H. Friday. 

Stephanie White was further down the gully, "and I just was swimming as best as I could. I was on my back, swimming to try and keep the snow away from my face."

12 climbers total – nine were able to recover quickly - but the last rope team made up of wounded Marine Sgt. Keith Zeier and expert father - son climbers Andy and JP Politz got swept away.

"I realized after I turned around that Andy, Keith, and JP were gone. I obviously feared for the worst," says Pollard. 

The three rode a wave of snow 800 feet down the side of the ravine. It was too dangerous for the others to try to get to them.  They had to save themselves and began a six-hour descent.

"We actually saw, just after dark, three little headlamps," says White, "and we were hoping that's who it was."

Sgt. Zeier's team was able to radio for help. By the time the other climbers were off the mountain, rescuers had already reached them. The team had crawled halfway out of the ravine when they were met by forest service snow rangers. 

Andy politz suffered a broken leg. Sgt. Zeier and JP Politz were hospitalized overnight but will be okay. 

This entire climb, and the documentary being made about it, is supposed to raise money and awareness for Sgt. Zeier's Ascents of Honor fund to help other vets find camaraderie on the mountain and to support the children of his brothers killed in the 2006 IED blast in Iraq that took his leg.

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