Born and raised in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, Ben Cargill has been an avid skier since the age of two and in recent off seasons, a trail runner.
December 9th, 2017 began as a typical early winter day for Ben. The Valley was due to receive its first major storm of the season and he wanted to join some friends on Moat Mountain, a popular traverse that is part of the Mount Washington Valley.
After reaching the summit, Ben descended the mountain last in line behind his friends. He recalls trying to catch up to the group and slipping on some ice as he did. As he rotated his body to try and manage the fall, he felt the startling snap of a broken bone. As he would find out later, he had completely shattered both his tibia and fibula. Coupled with the shock from an injury this severe, he began to accept the fact that for the first time ever, he was in need of rescue on the mountain. “Though my leg was arched to the left at an angle that clearly indicated a tib/fib fracture, I thought the situation was salvageable,” said Ben. “It was not.”
The accident had occurred just below the summit, which is about 2.4 miles from the trailhead. After realizing they could not splint their way out of the situation, one of his friends called 911. They also called Ben’s father. An avid outdoorsman himself, he reached the group in about two hours, followed closely by EMTs. With a strong storm on the way, and the threat of hypothermia closing in, the group spent the next four hours transporting Ben to safety and much-needed medical care.
Once at Memorial Hospital in Conway, Ben’s orthopedics care team worked to perform Open Reduction and Internal Fixation (“ORIF”) surgery, affixing two metal plates to his shattered bones. While in both the ER and in surgery, Ben recognized his local neighbors who now cared for him with kindness and expertise.
Eager to return to his active lifestyle, Ben worked with Dr. Douglas C. Taylor, his nurses and physical therapists to regain his strength and return to the mountain. He was encouraged by his care team’s friendly and welcoming approach, and their sensitivity to the importance that ski season holds as part of his life. Today, Ben is fully restored and planning a new hike known as “Cohos”: a 12-day trip with 15-20 miles of hiking each day, which will take him from Crawford Notch north to Canada, one strong leg in front of the other.