Posted by Woodchuck on September 09, 2002
I heard "hassed" used in a local Irish pub in Montpelier, Vermont not long ago. A man was discussing a friend who had ditched him and left him in the lurch.
Usenet is always a good place to find informal speech and I found hassed mainly in rec.backcountry dating back to Feb 3, 1995. There is an outdoor gear store next to the pub so it seemed likely I was on the right track.
One posting offered the definition: "to be left out in the cold to die while your more experienced partner takes off down to safety".
"Fatal Attraction" by Nicholas Howe, in the February 1995 "Yankee Magazine" appears to be the source. Derek Tinkham, 20 died on Mt. Washington in January 1994. His cause of death is listed as "exposure/Hassed".
The article is available in several places on the web and I've provided a link below, but I must admit I’ve been unable to get my hands on the back issue of "Yankee" to be 100% certain Hassed is Howe’s term and not a later addition. I actually remember reading the original article but I ditched my back issues of Yankee when I moved in 1998. It's very frustrating, but I digress. The article was highly critical of Jeremy Haas who led Tinkham on the fatal trek.
Another search of rec.backcountry revealed the phrase was originally "to get Haased": "to be killed or maimed by following an incompetent leader" and was in use immediately following Tinkham’s death, a year prior to Howe's article.
Perhaps this was Howe's way of slipping Haased past the editors (and legal department) at "Yankee".