A Somerville man was killed over the weekend in a White Mountains climbing accident when wildlife officials said a refrigerator-sized rock severed his rope, sending him about 150 feet down the mountainside.
Benjamin Kessel, 34, was identified on Tuesday as the dead climber after this past weekend’s accident on Cannon Cliff in Franconia Notch State Park.
His death comes a week after another Massachusetts man died while hiking in the White Mountains.
Around 4 p.m. Sunday, New Hampshire Fish and Game conservation officers responded to the climbing accident in Franconia Notch State Park. Several 911 calls made from the Moby Grape climbing route alerted officers that a climber had fallen after a large rock had dislodged and severed his climbing rope.
Conservation officers along with members of the Pemi Valley Search and Rescue Team responded to the cliff, and they searched the base. At the same time, a member of the climber’s party and two nearby climbers descended the route that the climber had fallen.
At around 5:30 p.m., the climbers who were rappelling down the cliff located Kessel’s body and determined that he was dead. Officials then decided that the recovery would be made in daylight early Monday morning.
“All efforts then turned to getting the searching climbers back to the top of the cliff prior to the onset of darkness and cooling overnight temperatures,” the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department said in a statement.
Then on Monday, State Park personnel relayed members of the Mountain Rescue Service, conservation officers and Pemi Valley Search and Rescue Team to the summit of Cannon Mountain.
The Mountain Rescue Service was able to lower members to Kessel’s location, and by 10:30 a.m., they had hoisted the rescuers and Kessel’s body back to the top of the cliff.
“It was determined by rescuers, who had observed the area, that a rock the size of a refrigerator had dislodged as the climber approached from below,” the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department said. “The rock then slid over the climbing rope severing it and knocking the climber approximately 150 feet down the cliff before becoming lodged in some small spruce trees.”
Earlier in September, a Massachusetts man died after suffering an unknown medical condition while hiking up Mt. Jefferson in the White Mountains. Officials say that a 60-year-old hiker from Mashpee was hiking in a small group when he collapsed.
In that case, several Good Samaritan hikers immediately started CPR and called 911.
Despite the efforts by fellow hikers — providing constant resuscitation for nearly 2 hours — and the arrival of a National Guard helicopter, the man did not survive.