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Risk, Decisions, and Death in the Presidentials

(Photo Matty Bowman)
Rescuers endure powerful winds while searching for Kate Matrosova.

N.H.'s beautiful Presidential Range attracts hikers in all seasons. Mt. Washington holds the dubious distinction of having “the world’s worst weather” yet hikers and climbers are attracted year-round to the challenging terrain.  It's also been the scene of  hundreds of accidents, including the one that took the life of Kate Matrosova in 2015.  We examine Matrosova's story and the lessons learned about risk-taking and decision-making.

This show originally aired on September 29, 2017. The rebroadcast is Friday, December 29th, 2017 at 9 a.m. and 7 p.m.


Credit Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons
N.H.'s Presidential Range.

The Androscoggin Valley Search and Rescue chronicled the conditions they encountered while searching for Kate Matrosova:

Find out more about N.H. Fish & Game's HikeSafe program.


Over the past six years, NH Fish and Game completed a total of 1,023 reportable Search and Rescue (SAR) missions at a total cost to the Department of $2.1 million. An average of 180 missions were conducted each year. The average cost of each mission was $2,100.

Of the total 1,023 Search and Rescue missions:

  •  609 missions were required for hikers and climbers. This represents approximately 60% of all SAR missions.
  • 138 SAR missions were required for hunters, anglers, boaters and OHRV riders, representing approximately 14% of all SAR missions. 
  • 116 missions were searches for walk-aways/runaways. This represents about 12% of all SAR missions. 
  • 429 SAR missions occurred within the White Mountain National Forest. That means that approximately 43% of all SAR missions within the past six years took place on National Forest lands.

Deficit in the Search and Rescue Account:

  • Since FY 08, Fish and Game has averaged a deficit in the Search and Rescue Account totaling $143,304 each year. 
  • Approximate revenue for each of the past eight years in the SAR account (generated by a $1.00 fee added to every boat, OHRV and snow machine registration) averages $195,663. 
  • Fish and Game annual Search and Rescue expenditures for the past eight years, which must be paid from that account, averaged a total of $339,848.


Watch a N.H. Fish & Game Conservation Officer unpack a typical 55-lb. search and rescue winter rescue backpack: 

Read more:

Bloomburg profiled Kate Matrosova, The Trader in the Wild.

Mt. Monadnock saw its share of rescues over the summer as well.

A Boston Globe article last fall outlined risks for fall hikers who underestimate conditions.

Outside Magazine considered: Is Search and Rescue a Public Service?

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