On Saturday, January 26, 2013, a group of seven climbers set out to summit Mt. Adams via King’s Ravine. Tragically, one of the climbers fell to his death. At about 1:00 p.m., Richard Gabrielle, a 64-year-old man from University Park, Texas, was near the top of what is known as the Great Gully in King’s Ravine when he lost his footing and slid down into the ravine, which has a 67-degree slope. Gabrielle travelled over 1,500 feet and dropped vertically over 950 feet before coming to rest. He sustained significant injuries that killed him instantly.
Gabrielle was well equipped for his expedition and was wearing crampons, using an ice axe, and wearing a helmet at the time of his fall. He was not using a rope for the ascent. Although he was with six others, Richard Gabrielle was the last in line and his fall was not witnessed firsthand. Four of the climbers had already crested the top of the Great Gully and were out of sight and hearing due to the steady alpine winds.The remaining climber, Leo Freeman, age 60, from Presque Isle, Maine, was closest to Gabrielle and realized he must have fallen, as he had an unobstructed view of the gulley and Gabrielle was no longer in sight.
Unable to make voice contact with the other climbers, Freeman descended in the hopes of finding his hiking companion. Unfortunately, evidence indicated that Gabrielle had fallen the entire length of Great Gully, and the possibility of survival was remote. Freeman called 911 to report the incident. Lt. Douglas Gralenski, of the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department was made aware of the incident and initiated a rescue response. Soon after, Freeman continued his search and found the body of Richard Gabrielle.
The caretaker of Randolph Mountain Club’s Gray Knob Cabin, Caleb Jackson, along with Mike Pelchat of the Androscoggin Valley Search and Rescue Team (AVSAR) were the first to arrive on scene. Soon after, Fish and Game’s Advanced Search and Rescue Team, additional members of AVSAR, and members of Mountain Rescue Service out of Conway also arrived to assist with removal of the body, which was brought to the Appalachia trailhead in Randolph at 7:02 p.m.