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Hiker dies after rescuers battle snow and 80mph winds on New Hampshire mountain

Hiker dies after rescuers battle snow and 80mph winds on New Hampshire mountain
The hiker died in the hospital after being found in hypothermic conditions

A man died after he was caught in severe weather while hiking a trail near New Hampshire‘s Mt Washington.

The hiker, Xi Chen, 53, of Andover, Massachusetts, was hiking the Gulfside Trail on Saturday night when he was caught up in freezing temperatures rife with snow, wind and sleet. He was reportedly attempting a solo Presidential Traverse, which requires hikers to summit several peaks in the Presidential Range.

According to the New Hampshire Union Leader, the hiker’s wife contacted the Fish and Game department to report that she had received a text from him saying he was wet and cold and could not continue hiking.

The department said in a press statement that the hiker “further wrote that he felt he would die without a rescue.”

Responders fought through strong rains, snowfall, and more than 80mph (129 kmh) to find the man.

“It wasn’t like June, it was a winter event. Unless you had winter gear, you were not prepared for the conditions,” Lt Bob Mancini of New Hampshire Fish & Game told the Concord Monitor. “You were stumbling and staggering, just trying to stay upright in the wind. You couldn’t see more than one cairn at a time.”

Conservation officers said they received several rescue calls on Saturday from hikers who were at high-elevation summits and ridgelines in the Presidential Range.

Mt Washington is New Hampshire’s highest peak, standing 6,288.2 ft (1,916.6m), making it the most prominent mountain east of the Mississippi River. The mountain and the surrounding Presidential Range is known for having unpredictable weather, and more than 160 people have died in the range since 1849.

“The conditions in the high peaks were treacherous,” the agency said in a press release.

When rescuers found Mr Chen, he was unresponsive and in a hypothermic state.

Rescuers said they carried the stranded hiker more than a mile to the summit of Mt Washington, where he was placed on a truck and driven down the mountain’s service road to a hospital in nearby Berlin.

He was unable to be revived after several hours of life-saving efforts, according to the agency.

Forecasters had been predicting for days that dangerous conditions would be present in the region on Saturday. The region’s annual Mt Washignton Auto Road footrace was even shortened in advance as a result of the predicted inclement weather.

“Do your preparation and planning, and look at the forecast. People didn’t heed the warning,” Lt Mancini said.