Somerville man dies in N.H. rock climbing accident after large rock severs rope

Benjamin Kessel was 34.

A Somerville man is dead following a rock climbing accident Sunday in New Hampshire.

Benjamin Kessel, 34, was climbing on Cannon Cliff within the Franconia Notch State Park when the accident occurred, according to authorities. 

Around 4 p.m., authorities began receiving 911 calls that a climber had fallen after a large rock dislodged and cut his climbing rope, according to a press release from the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department.

Conservation officers and the Pemi Valley Search and Rescue Team began searching for the man at the base of the cliff. Two other climbers began to descend the same route from where Kessel had fallen, the release said.

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Around 5:30 p.m., climbers found Kessel’s body and reported that he was dead. Authorities decided they would recover Kessel’s body Monday morning during daylight hours.

On Monday, conservation officers, the Mountain Rescue Service, and Pemi Valley Search and Rescue Team were able to get to where Kessel’s remains were found around 10:30 a.m. The rescue party was back at the base of the mountain around 12:30 p.m.

“It was determined by rescuers, who had observed the area, that a rock the size of a refrigerator had dislodged as the climber approached from below,” the release said. “The rock then slid over the climbing rope, severing it and knocking the climber approximately 150 feet down the cliff before becoming lodged in some small spruce trees.”

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