Trail Community Reels From Death of Well-Known Hiker in White Mountains
Search and rescue teams recovered the body of a missing hiker from New Hampshire’s White Mountains near Mount Guyot early Thursday morning. In a press release, New Hampshire Fish and Game identified the deceased hiker as Christopher Roma, 37, a prominent and very experienced hiker from Thornton, New Hampshire.
New Hampshire Fish and Game was first made aware of a hiker in distress at 10 p.m. Tuesday night when concerned acquaintances contacted 911. Eventually, Roma himself was able to contact 911, enabling rescuers to pinpoint his location between Mount Bond and Mount Guyot.
According to the Fish and Game press release, “Before the call was lost (Roma) stated he was very cold. The weather forecast for the area was for heavy winds, temperatures in the single digits, and snow.”
Rescuers started on foot toward Roma’s location around 2:00 a.m. on Wednesday morning, trudging through waist-deep snow and enduring harsh conditions above treeline. The New Hampshire Army National Guard also flew three separate helicopter flights throughout the day on Wednesday in an attempt to reach Roma by air but could never get near Mount Guyot due to low clouds and poor visibility.
Despite rescuers’ heroic efforts, Roma was already deceased by the time a ground crew from Mountain Rescue Service finally reached his location around 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday. Conditions made it impossible to recover his body at that time. All crews were pulled off the mountain and Roma’s body was recovered Thursday morning by a helicopter crew.
The loss is a sobering reminder that even the most accomplished hikers among us are still vulnerable to the dangers of harsh alpine conditions, particularly in winter.
New Hampshire Fish and Game recommended that all hikers come prepared with proper attire, including snowshoes and traction devices. The agency also encouraged outdoor enthusiasts to purchase a Hike Safe card at wildnh.com/safe. The card helps support Fish and Game search and rescue activities. For safe hiking tips and a list of essential gear, visit hikesafe.com.
Remembering Christopher “Rafiki” Roma
Roma was an experienced outdoorsman, having trekked extensively in the White Mountains. After finishing the Triple Crown of thru-hiking plus a second PCT thru-hike in 2020, he went on to found his own guiding business, North East Trekking Company. He was deeply involved with his community in Thornton and in 2023 began blogging for this website, The Trek. On trail, he went by the trail name “Rafiki.” He is survived by his two-year-old son.
News of Roma’s death left loved ones and fellow members of the hiking community stunned. An outpouring of love and support online show just how much Roma was cherished on and off the trail. Friends have set up a GoFundMe page to support his family.
On his guiding service’s website, Roma wrote about the moment, after completing all three of America’s longest trails, that he discovered his life’s calling:
“It was then that I knew I was meant to show others the beautiful country we have right here in our own back yards and give them the chance to transform as I had over the last 5 years.
“I want this business to serve you, the hiker that is looking for more than just a work out and a view. The hiker that is looking for the life lessons and experiences one gets through hiking. I experienced a lot of learning the hard way, and my goal is to educate and inform you about the dangers of the wild, the trials and tribulations, and the importance of sustainability. I want to show you that if we take care of nature, nature will take care of us, mentally and physically.”
His words paint a picture of a man who was perpetually enchanted by the natural world and was driven to share that wonder with others — a man who cherished both the mountains and the community that now mourns him. They seem like a fitting way to end this story — a reminder of the legacy that Roma leaves behind and of the fact that, as Roma’s loved ones wrote on GoFundMe, there is some comfort in knowing that he died doing what he loved.
Featured image: New Hampshire Fish and Game
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