Herman was hiking back down from the summit with a friend when the mountain gave way, taking them with it.
“We were having a blast,” Herman said. “Connor and I were just doing a day trip, and R.J. and Tristan were going to stay for a few more days.”
Herman was with his friend, Connor Lodge, at the summit at about 2:30 p.m. Saturday. In less than an hour, they would be hurtling down Tuckerman Ravine in an avalanche.
“I remember being in the air for a while,” Herman said. “I was able to think to myself, ‘Wow. I’ve been falling for a long time.'”
According to the ranger’s report, it was a 90-foot free fall and an 800-foot slide.
“I’d like, launch off ramps every so often, and I’d be in the air for a certain amount of time until I hit the ground again and keep going like that,” he said.
Herman was bleeding heavily but conscious. Lodge came to a stop further up and slid down to be with his friend. They realized they had to hike back up to a checkpoint to try to get help.
Just then, their friends R.J. and Tristan appeared.
“Tristan said, ‘Cuddle up close with each other. We’re going to go get help. Just hang tight,'” Herman said. “Yeah, he left us. It was really, really scary, the thought of that, but I didn’t know what else to do.”
Help came in stages. There was false hope at one point when they heard a snowmobile in the distance, but it faded away.
A pair of hikers climbed up from the AMC shelter, bringing company, food and blankets, and then finally the rangers at about 1 a.m. The slope was too steep for a sled, so Herman had to hike down himself, broken bones and all.
Would he do it again?
“In the spring time,” he said, laughing. “I was having a great time until that happened.”
Herman said he will be in a back brace for at least three months and has to have one more surgery on his arm. He said he hopes to go home to Martha’s Vineyard by Friday.
His friend, Lodge, is already out of the hospital and is at home recovering from a concussion, a lot of bruises and a couple of broken teeth.