An avalanche hit six Army soldiers undergoing mountain-warfare training near Vermont’s highest peak Wednesday, sending five to the hospital.
Rescuers worked to evacuate the six soldiers training at Smugglers Notch, a narrow pass at the northern edge of Mount Mansfield. The base of the notch is surrounded by steep cliffs on both sides.
Five soldiers were taken to the University of Vermont Medical Center in Burlington. None of the injuries were considered to be life-threatening. The sixth soldier returned to duty.
There is no word on what triggered the avalanche that hit about 1 p.m. The soldiers were brought down the mountain to waiting ambulances. A photo posted by WCAX-TV shows one soldier on a stretcher.
Smugglers Notch separates Stowe from Cambridge. The Stowe ski resort is on one side and Smugglers’ Notch ski resort is on the other.
The Vermont Department of Public Safety said the recent storms have created “extremely unstable conditions in steep terrain.”
The U.S. Army’s Mountain Warfare school is run by the Vermont National Guard. The Army website says the school provides tactical and technical training for mountain warfare and cold weather operations.
It’s unclear what the soldiers were doing when the avalanche hit. But soldiers who take the winter training course, based at the Ethan Allen Training Center in Jericho, practice ice climbing in the notch as well as other cold-weather activities.