Crane Mountain in Thurman is a steep but fairly short hike, and not one I have tried yet in the winter. The trip down is particularly difficult whether you loop over past the pond, with a steep rock face to slide down that is difficult even when it is dry, or if you go down the main route up, with its two wooden ladders.
I have no interest in trying it in the snow and ice of winter. This peak in Thurman is not a place I would want to be stuck in an ice storm as darkness falls, but that is what happened this weekend.
A crew of state forest rangers had to go in for a major rescue effort during some pretty nasty freezing rain. I'm not sure how well these hikers were equipped, but microspikes or even crampons, as well as a check of the weather forecast, are necessary when tackling mountains this time of year.
Details of the rescue are below.
-- Don Lehman
Town of Thurman
Rescue: On Jan. 27 at 5:10 p.m., DEC Ray Brook Dispatch was notified by State Police in Warren County about hikers that required help on Crane Mountain. The 27-year-old female caller had sustained a shoulder injury while descending Crane Mountain via the Crane Mountain Pond Trail. The hiking party attempted to continue, but the shoulder injury did not allow the injured hiker to support herself on the steep and icy terrain. The subjects attempted to navigate down the mountain off the icy trail, but became stuck upon reaching an area of steep cliffs a little more than a mile from the trailhead. Coordinates from their phone helped Forest Rangers locate the subjects, where it was determined high angle rope rescue systems would be required to lower the injured hiker safely down from the cliffs. Four Forest Rangers were dispatched as freezing rain coated roadways and hampered response efforts. By 12:40 a.m., both subjects had been lowered from the cliff and transported to the trailhead by snowmobile. Johnsburg EMS assessed the pair and all Forest Rangers were back in service by 4 a.m.
Town of Elizabethtown
Rescue: On Jan. 27 at 3:55 p.m., Forest Rangers were requested to respond to a rescue call on Giant Mountain. A 20-year-old female hiker had sustained an ankle injury while hiking down the Ridge Trail, about a mile and a half from the trailhead. The recent warm weather followed by freezing temperatures caused the trails in the Giant Mountain Wilderness to become icy and difficult to navigate. Forest Ranger Robbie Mecus was dispatched to the scene to evaluate the injury. After assessing the subject, it was determined that the injury could not sustain any weight, requiring her to be carried out in a litter. Six additional Forest Rangers were dispatched to the trail to assist with the carry-out. Keene Valley Ambulance was requested to assist with medical treatment at the trailhead. By 8:55 p.m., all subjects and personnel were back to the trailhead. The subject was transported by ambulance to the Elizabethtown Hospital for further medical treatment.
Town of Roxbury
Search: On Jan. 21 at around 8:20 a.m., the New York State Police contacted DEC’s Central Dispatch requesting Forest Ranger assistance in a search for a missing 22-year-old male last seen leaving a residence on Ferris Farm Road around 4:30 p.m. on Jan. 20. A command post was established at the Roxbury Fire Department, and for two days 11 Forest Rangers organized personnel and resources into crews and searched around the residence. Ten Delaware County volunteer fire departments, State Police, DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officers (ECOs), several police K-9 units, State Police helicopters, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs or drones) participated in the search. Searchers redirected efforts along Rt. 23 after receiving a report that the subject had been spotted in that area on Monday. At approximately 11:30 a.m. on Monday, the subject was located deceased in the Bear Kill Creek by a local constable searching the area. State Police are investigating the cause of death.
Ice-Jam Flooding: Warm temperatures during the weekend of Jan. 20 and 21, resulted in the formation of ice jams in many of New York’s rivers. Combined with melting snow and rain, the ice jams caused potential for significant flooding to areas along the Mohawk River, upper Hudson River, North Country and Southern Tier. With nearly 50 ice jams threatening communities statewide, Forest Rangers staged crews across the state in order to provide rapid response to missions in the event flooding conditions developed. Forest Ranger air boat crews were staged Monday through Wednesday at Sherburne (Cortland County), Lowville (St. Lawrence County), Northville (Fulton County), and Northville (Warren County). In addition, Forest Rangers flew drones throughout the week to provide analysis of ice jam conditions to the State Office of Emergency Management and other state agencies monitoring conditions.
Town of Hunter
Rescue: On Jan. 26 at approximately 3 p.m., DEC Central Dispatch was notified by Greene County 911 of an injured hiker on Sugarloaf Mountain in the town of Hunter. After making contact with the subject, Forest Rangers determined that the hiker and a companion were on the west side of Sugarloaf on the Devil’s Path at around 2,850 feet in elevation. The caller reported that his friend had injured his ankle after sliding on the icy trail. The subject attempted to hike briefly, but was unable to continue. The hikers stated they were well equipped for the weather with winter camping gear and would be able to stay warm until Rangers arrived. Forest Rangers and emergency personnel responded to Mink Hollow Road trailhead. The Rangers and a Haines Falls volunteer firefighter hiked in to the subjects, reaching the injured hiker at about 5:20 p.m. Ranger Dawson administered wilderness first aid and splinted the injured left ankle. Trail conditions were extremely icy due to the recent freezing. Tannersville Fire Department staff staged an off-road utility vehicle at Mink Hollow notch. The patient was assisted down Sugarloaf to the UTV and transported out to the trailhead at 7:40 p.m. The subject was transported by his friend to Kingston Hospital for further treatment. Interviews with the subject determined that, although the subject was hiking with microspikes, he had lost grip on an ice flow and slid into a boulder, resulting in the injury.