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N.H. Fish and Game to review how Dartmouth student became lost, shoeless on mountain



Valley News Staff Writer
Wednesday, May 15, 2019

WOODSTOCK, N.H. — New Hampshire Fish and Game officials say the price tag for the search and rescue operation that located a Dartmouth College student who became lost on a school-sponsored hiking trip on Mount Moosilauke over the weekend will be in the tens of thousands of dollars.

Arun Hari Anand, 21, of Collegeville, Pa., went missing on Saturday and was found on Monday morning, dehydrated and hypothermic but alive. Fish and Game Col. Kevin Jordan estimated the costs associated with the effort could total $50,000 to $60,000.

“It could have all been avoided,” Jordan said.

“It is very frustrating for us,” he said. “It’s very expensive and it is very dangerous and it could have cost people their lives.”

Fish and Game plans to investigate all aspects of what led up to Anand’s ordeal. The report will take about a month to compile. It will detail what occurred and the final cost, which will be determined after a review of the total resources expended in the search.

Anand was on the mountain as part of a Dartmouth Outing Club class named “hiking overnight,” Dartmouth spokeswoman Diana Lawrence said on Monday.

Anand became lost when he tried to return to the Moosilauke Ravine Lodge alone, Jordan said. That triggered a multiday search that involved dozens of rescuers and two helicopters.

Fish and Game also plans to explore why Anand and perhaps other students were “not prepared” to hike the White Mountains, Jordan said.

Who ultimately will be billed for the search and rescue costs remains unclear.

“Someone is going to pay for it,” Jordan said. “We will analyze the cost (and) where, if any, responsibility lies.”

Lawrence on Wednesday declined to answer specific questions about the episode.

“The college will conduct a thorough analysis to determine how the incident occurred and whether policies or procedures should be modified,” Lawrence said in a statement

Tracie Williams, an assistant director for leadership and experiential education in the college’s outdoor program’s office, who was listed as an instructor for the hike, declined an interview request via email to the Valley News.

The weekend program was listed as a Dartmouth Outing Club course that fulfilled a requirement for a PE credit, according to a post on the college’s website. That listing indicates the hike was to take place Friday through Sunday on 2,200-foot Moose Mountain in Hanover, not Mount Moosilauke, a 5,000-foot peak in the White Mountains.

The hike was relocated for “programmatic reasons,” Lawrence said earlier this week.

The course is described as “an introductory hiking and camping class in which students experience the versatility of Hanover geography firsthand. ... Students will be taught the skills to safely navigate the wilderness as well as mountainous terrain.”

For Anand, the trip nearly turned tragic, according to Jordan, who said it appears the 21-year-old lost the trail and was wandering around the woods trying to find his way to the lodge.

Rescuers found him around 9:30 a.m. on Monday hiking — shoeless — down the Gorge Brook Trail, about a mile from his intended destination. Anand is expected to make a full recovery, Jordan said.

Rescuers encountered deep snow, dense vegetation and steep terrain while searching. Jordan called it a “miracle” that Anand survived.

An email message sent to Anand on Wednesday wasn’t returned.

Jordan Cuddemi can be reached at jcuddemi@vnews.com or 603-727-3248.