Injured hiker carried off Mount Cube by foot after weather foils helicopter

Patrick Tyler, 70, of Hollis, N.H., is carried down from Mount Cube in Orford, N.H., by rescue personnel on Monday, Aug. 7, 2023. Tyler's spouse called 911 after he slipped and struck his head. (NH Fish and Game photograph)

Patrick Tyler, 70, of Hollis, N.H., is carried down from Mount Cube in Orford, N.H., by rescue personnel on Monday, Aug. 7, 2023. Tyler's spouse called 911 after he slipped and struck his head. (NH Fish and Game photograph) NH Fish and Game Department photograph

By JOHN LIPPMAN

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 08-09-2023 7:52 PM

ORFORD — An attempted helicopter rescue of an injured hiker on Mount Cube in Orford had to be abandoned due to foul weather on Monday, but more than 30 emergency personnel dispatched to the scene were eventually able to transport the injured hiker safely down to the trailhead and a waiting ambulance.

Patrick Tyler, 70, of Hollis, N.H., was in stable condition at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center on Tuesday after he slipped and fell and suffered a head injury while hiking with his wife on the Cross-Rivendell Trail near the summit of Mount Cube, according to a New Hampshire Fish and Game conservation officer,

Tyler’s wife called 911 around 12:40 p.m. Monday to report her husband had slipped on a wet and steep segment of the trail when they were descending and had severely injured his head, said Sgt. Heidi Murphy, a conservation officer with New Hampshire Fish and Game.

Some 30 personnel — including members from the Upper Valley Wilderness Response Team and teams from Orford, Hanover, Thetford, Lyme, Canaan, Rumney, Wentworth and Grafton fire departments — responded to the distress call. As Tyler’s condition “deteriorated” rapidly, a New Hampshire Army National Guard Black Hawk helicopter and crew was requested to assist in the rescue as Tyler was “experiencing a life-threatening situation,” Fish and Game officials said.

While rescue personnel set out on the approximately 2-mile trek up the trail and reached Tyler’s location at about 2:30 pm. and began efforts to stabilize him, the Black Hawk took off from its station in Concord at 2:45 p.m. But the normally 25-minute flight had to be stopped when the helicopter could not make it farther than Plymouth, N.H., as worsening weather conditions resulted in Mount Cube becoming “socked in with rain and low cloud cover,” Fish and Game said.

A second attempt by the helicopter to approach was made from the west but also had to be abandoned for safety reasons. At 3:50 p.m., the helicopter mission was called off entirely due to the worsening weather.

Fortunately by that time, rescue personnel had been able to tend to Tyler and carry him on a litter, reaching the trailhead on Baker Road at 5:20 p.m., where he was transported by Upper Valley Ambulance to DHMC for evaluation and treatment.

Murphy said this was the third distress call from Mount Cube this year that required a response from Fish and Game, although this was by far the most critical injury.

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Fish and Game noted that the Tylers, both experienced hikers, had prepared for the day’s weather and their ascent to the 2,900-foot summit and return. They also wisely ahead of time had purchased a SafeHike card — $25 for individuals and $35 for families — which in most cases insures a cardholder against getting assessed the cost of the rescue mission in the event emergency services are required.

Such costs can easily run into thousands of dollars — even without an Army helicopter.

Contact John Lippman at jlippman@vnews.com.