UPDATED: Five soldiers hospitalized after avalanche on Smugglers Notch
Five U.S. Army soldiers have been transported to UVM Medical Center after being caught in an avalanche at Smugglers Notch while doing rough-terrain training Wednesday afternoon.
Six soldiers were initially reported injured during training at the Army Mountain Warfare School. Lt. Mike Arcovitch, the Vermont National Guard spokesperson, said in a press release that none of the injuries appeared to be life threatening.
He said ambulances from local emergency response teams helped the soldiers off the mountain and transported five of them to the hospital.
“There was an avalanche up at East Gully on Smugglers Notch and six soldiers were injured as a result,” he said earlier Wednesday afternoon.
The Smugglers’ Notch Resort snow report says the top of Mount Mansfield has received 23 inches of snow in the past 24 hours. The report said the temperature was around 20 degrees Wednesday afternoon.
WCAX-TV reported on Monday about skiers who outran an avalanche over the weekend on Mount Mansfield. In that report, Stowe Mountain Rescue’s Doug Veliko said the snow on the mountain was “unconsolidated,” making it more susceptible to avalanches.
“The snowpack hasn’t had an opportunity to metamorphosize and become a single pack. It’s several separate independent layers right now,” Veliko said.
The Jericho-based Army Mountain Warfare School trains soldiers in traversing and fighting in rough terrain. The Smugglers Notch training was described in an article published on the Guard’s website in 2016.
“It’s a chance to get into a true alpine environment, to see rock and ice they haven’t seen anywhere else,” said Sgt. 1st Class Nick Ash, an instructor at school.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, a longtime supporter of the Vermont National Guard, tweeted in response to a WPTZ-TV report on Wednesday’s avalanche.