'Will Die' Among Hiker's Last Texts

Rescue atop New Hampshire's Mount Washington couldn't save hypothermic Xi Chen
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 21, 2022 8:28 AM CDT
Updated Jun 25, 2022 5:20 PM CDT
'Will Die,' Read Hiker's Last Text
A view of New Hampshire;’s Presidential Mountain Range on a clear day.   (Getty Images/Frank Shirley)

"In trouble… can't move … will die." So read the last texts from a father of three who succumbed to severe hypothermia while hiking on New Hampshire's Mount Washington over Father's Day weekend. Xi Chen, 53, of Andover, Mass., was attempting the 23-mile Presidential Traverse, a crossing of various White Mountains peaks named after former presidents, and he had taken the Gulfside Trail hoping to reach a lodge just below the summit of 6,288-foot Mount Washington on Saturday, per Boston 25 and NBC Boston. But "the conditions in the high peaks were treacherous: freezing temperatures, rain, sleet, snow, and winds gusting over 80mph," New Hampshire Fish and Game said, per CNN.

Early on, Chen had texted wife Lian Liu saying he was "a bit concerned [about] hyperthermia," per Boston 25. "Keep an eye on my location," he wrote. Sometime after 4:30pm, he added, "If I stop moving then in trouble." Then he wrote: "can't move." Asked if he needed a rescue, Chen replied, "Yes, could die," per NBC Boston. "Must call … will die," he added after being told the call had been placed. It was then 6:30pm, per CNN. There was no further response from Chen. And unfortunately, rescuers were busy. "At least half a dozen other rescues took place due to the weather," reports Boston 25. NHFG said several people continued on through dangerous conditions "instead of turning back ... to safer elevations."

Liu told NBC that Chen was "not a quitter, (and) that probably actually got him into trouble this time." A rescue team finally arrived at the summit of Mount Washington around 9:30pm but it took more than an hour to find Chen, per CNN. He was "unresponsive and in a highly hypothermic state" more than a mile from the summit, NHFG said. After warming him up, rescuers carried him to the summit and then transported him to the hospital. There, doctors were unable to revive him. Had he hiked to the summit, he would have conquered his 20th of the state's 4,000-foot mountain peaks, NBC reports. (More hiker death stories.)

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