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Once again: please, stay safe out there!

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    • Once again: please, stay safe out there!

      The Northeast 4000-footers can be very unfriendly, even in the mildest of winter conditions, and they claimed another life last week. 61-year-old Hua Davis perished of hypothermia on MacNaughton Mountain in the Adirondacks.

      adirondackalmanack.com/2016/03…macnaughton-mountain.html

      The Forest Rangers who found her body reported tracking her down the back side of the mountain, following an increasingly erratic trail, consistent with the confusion, disorientation and delirium associated with hypothermia.

      It is reported that she was wearing sweatpants when she was found, and had only Skechers cross-trainers on her feet. Apparently, she was thoroughly soaked. She had no emergency shelter, sleep system, or fire making with her. This cannot be accounted for by inexperience. She had climbed all 46 of the Adirondack High Peaks and all 35 of the Catskill 3500's in winter. She had also done the Saranac 6 in winter in under 24 hours.

      One Forest Ranger also suffered an accident during the recovery operation, when the ice of a brook failed under him, plunging him chest-deep and face down under a 50-pound backpack. He was extracted by an emergency operation of New York State Police and Forest Rangers, employing night-vision goggles, and successfully evacuated to Lake Placid. He has subsequently returned to service.

      Please, everyone, stay safe out there!
      I'm not lost. I know where I am. I'm right here.
    • Good advice. Talking with a friend getting into backpacking was thinking of hiking Sierra this year. I was concerned when I heard her timeline. She said her "experienced friend" had done it a few times in last few years. I pointed out he did it in drought years & snowpack was going high this year & Postholer website to keep track.

      Pont is what may be good one time doesn't always apply. Hope for best. plan for the worst, find the mix that works for you.
    • Thats a big reason why I'm not out there now. My last full weekend experience was decades ago. It is highly possible I would forget something, and make a mistake I wouldn't have back then. It could turn out as a severe injury or death.

      As for fire making; I have a magnesium/flint setup, water proof matches, wind proof matches, and a Zippo lighter with extra flints. Along with two over 100 decible whistles.

      I looked at my heavy 10x50mm binocs and said no... but I do have a pair of 10x25mm small binocs that weigh less than half that. I'll very lkely take them with me.

      I need new batteries for my 2 meter radio. The rig is small, probably weighs about 8 ounces. Could save my life. So I'm taking it. Yaesu FT60R.
      --
      "What do you mean its sunrise already ?!", me.
    • Not just in the backwoods. This winter both ski slopes I frequent had 'experienced' skiers impact trees resulting in significant trauma and in two cases death.

      Lest we forget.....



      SSgt Ray Rangel - USAF
      SrA Elizabeth Loncki - USAF
      PFC Adam Harris - USA
      MSgt Eden Pearl - USMC
    • rafe wrote:

      From what I read at Kevin's link, there was no mention of her having a hiking partner.

      I'm fine with winter hiking but only with a partner. There's just too much that can go wrong.

      escapee wrote:

      A week ago another solo hiker died in the Whites. He was a winter mountaineering guide and died of hypothermia. Very sad. There's just no getting around it: for day hikes in the winter in the Whites always bring shelter and a sleeping bag.
      Hua was indeed hiking solo. It was a lovely spring-like day at Heart Lake where she started, and the trail was clear of ice for at least the first few miles of low-elevation hiking.

      I, too, don't do winter mountaineering without a sleeping bag, a shelter and a partner. Rafe is right. There's just too much that can go wrong. Mother Nature is a bitch. I feel the same way about bushwhacks - I always want a partner and proper equipment. I've been a day late getting back from a bushwhack before, and a tarp and sleeping bag turned what might have been a survival situation into an inconvenience. (Remember, adventures are called inconveniences, when you're having one.)

      The guy I most often go with in winter also brings a piece of static line, a few ice screws, and a couple of quickdraws, just in case the stronger climbers of the party need to set up a hand line to get the others over a bad spot. I've been on one trip where the crampon wearers did just that, to aid the folks who had brought only spikes. Somebody was even on the ball enough to tie a Swiss seat on each of the spike wearers, attached to a paracord Prusik on the hand line. Next best thing to a proper top rope. The whole group was able to summit safely, where otherwise we'd all have had to turn around. (Another safety rule: the party goes only as far and as fast as the weakest hiker. In my groups, that's usually me.)
      I'm not lost. I know where I am. I'm right here.
    • My wife doesn't read this forum so I can say this. On my last hike with Julie (about a month ago now -- I posted photos here) there was a moment when I wanted to turn around. Just didn't feel safe, but Julie convinced me to keep at it. I was wearing microspikes, and being lazy about switching to crampons.

      The issue was ice. There's been precious little snow in the Whites this year, but plenty of ice. There were large expanses of rock covered in glare ice, and steep drop-offs at the edges. No problem as long as every footfall holds and goes exactly where you want it to. But it could be bad news if you slip, and nasty if not fatal if you went over the edge.

      Of course, 99% of the hike was quite safe, but that 1% can getcha.

      The post was edited 1 time, last by rafe ().

    • We all have stories to tell about cutting corners with safety. It's a Very Good Thing, and for some of us little short of miraculous, that we've lived to tell them.

      The 2015 Café outing in Harriman got some serious ice (to the level where the Interstates around there were closed). Malto had a bit of a harrowing experience when microspikes were not enough. I understand he did the "inadvertent seated glissade terminating in a tree-assisted self-arrest." He wasn't hurt, but he was surely shaken. And this was just Harriman, not the Whites! You never need full crampons down there. Except when you do.
      I'm not lost. I know where I am. I'm right here.
    • adirondackdailyenterprise.com/…al-mistake-.html?nav=5008

      I was just recently having a conversation with a friend on some of the topics discussed in this article. Social media has opened hiking, and climbing to a broad audience that sees pictures Of hikes and trips in amazing locations and hikers completing these adventures. Inexperienced people see them and think it's easily capable of doing. And for the most part it is until it goes bad. Then they're not prepared. I've witnessed these hikers out there and shake my head and cross my fingers hoping they make it out ok. And for the vast majority they do. Until like Ms. Davis their luck runs out.
      RIAP
    • I've posted this before, this past October I attempted to hike the Santanonnis in the Adirondacks. Plan was to hike in, set up camp and next morning summit the three peeks in question. While hiking in, the temps dropped to the teens, and then it snowed. The next morning, although prepared with all the proper gear and a map and compass I just didn't feel I was capable of going the distance. This mountain range the trails are unmarked herd paths and with the fresh snow the trail just wasn't visible so I opted to go home instead. Key is you have to know when to call it a day.
      RIAP

      The post was edited 1 time, last by A.T.Lt ().

    • A.T.Lt wrote:

      adirondackdailyenterprise.com/…al-mistake-.html?nav=5008

      I was just recently having a conversation with a friend on some of the topics discussed in this article. Social media has opened hiking, and climbing to a broad audience that sees pictures Of hikes and trips in amazing locations and hikers completing these adventures. Inexperienced people see them and think it's easily capable of doing. And for the most part it is until it goes bad. Then they're not prepared. I've witnessed these hikers out there and shake my head and cross my fingers hoping they make it out ok. And for the vast majority they do. Until like Ms. Davis their luck runs out.
      Thing is, in at least one of the two cases we're talking about, the victim was a highly experienced hiker. Hardly a newb. Ditto for that woman who died on Mt. Madison last winter.
    • A.T.Lt wrote:

      I've posted this before, this past October I attempted to hike the Santanonnis in the Adirondacks. Plan was to hike in, set up camp and next morning summit the three peeks in question. While hiking in, the temps dropped to the teens, and then it snowed. The next morning, although prepared with all the proper gear and a map and compass I just didn't feel I was capable of going the distance. This mountain range the trails are unmarked herd paths and with the fresh snow the trail just wasn't visible so I opted to go home instead. Key is you have to know when to call it a day.
      I've bailed quite a few times in uncomfortable situations but always feel like crap afterwards.

      Do you think hikers go through different phases? I have and will probably go though more. I've been the novice hiker who is afraid of everything, the limited experience hiker who's afraid of nothing, and the hiker who now knows enough to be cautious again. Is there another phase where you have so much experience, you're no longer cautious?
      In life there are no limitations. Except stupidity. If you're stupid, you're screwed.

      Stephan Pastis
    • A.T.Lt wrote:

      AnotherKevin wrote:

      We all have stories to tell about cutting corners with safety. It's a Very Good Thing, and for some of us little short of miraculous, that we've lived to tell them.

      The 2015 Café outing in Harriman got some serious ice (to the level where the Interstates around there were closed). Malto had a bit of a harrowing experience when microspikes were not enough. I understand he did the "inadvertent seated glissade terminating in a tree-assisted self-arrest." He wasn't hurt, but he was surely shaken. And this was just Harriman, not the Whites! You never need full crampons down there. Except when you do.
      I've posted this before, this pat October I attempted to hike the Santanonnis on the Adirondacks. Plan was to hike in, set up camp and next morning summit the three peeks in question. While hiking in the temps dropped to the teens, and then it snowed. The next morning, although prepared with all the proper gear and a map and compass I just didn't feel I was capable of going the distance. This mountain range the trails are unmarked herd paths and with the fresh snow the trail just wasn't visible so I opted to go home instead. Key is you have to know when to call a day.
      I bailed on a Pemi loop hike just below Lafayette because of 60+mph winds. I could probably have made it but had no idea if the wind was going to go to 80 or 90 mph. I was on a tight deadline to get back to my car and be aft work the following day do I couldn't wait it out.
      Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.
      Dr. Seuss Cof123
    • TrafficJam wrote:

      A.T.Lt wrote:

      I've posted this before, this past October I attempted to hike the Santanonnis in the Adirondacks. Plan was to hike in, set up camp and next morning summit the three peeks in question. While hiking in, the temps dropped to the teens, and then it snowed. The next morning, although prepared with all the proper gear and a map and compass I just didn't feel I was capable of going the distance. This mountain range the trails are unmarked herd paths and with the fresh snow the trail just wasn't visible so I opted to go home instead. Key is you have to know when to call it a day.
      I've bailed quite a few times in uncomfortable situations but always feel like crap afterwards.
      Do you think hikers go through different phases? I have and will probably go though more. I've been the novice hiker who is afraid of everything, the limited experience hiker who's afraid of nothing, and the hiker who now knows enough to be cautious again. Is there another phase where you have so much experience, you're no longer cautious?
      I bailed on a thru hike. Felt bad about it for a long time. But even as I was bailing, I said to myself that I'd finish the trail one way or another, even if it took years. And that happened.

      I've bailed on many shorter hikes as well, when they stopped being fun, or when my gear (or attitude) weren't up to the conditions I was facing.
    • For winter day hikes I always set a turn-around time. The goal is to return to the starting trailhead before nightfall. If I haven't made it to my planned destination by the turn-around time, too bad.

      Does lots of experience make me less cautious? Not at all, rather the contrary. Or maybe it's the advancing years, and the decreased resistance to hypothermia or other more routine deprivations we suffer in the woods. Some of the stuff that we take in stride as youngsters can have more serious consequences as we get older.

      Getting back to the turn-around time, if you've read Krakauer's book "Into Thin Air" you know what that's about. Krakauer's guide perished on the mountain because he took too long getting a slow climber to the summit.
    • When I was a beginner, packing took several days and my gear was checked several times. Now I throw stuff in my pack and often forget important things, like matches or lighter when I hiked in the Smokies a few months ago. The only thing I forgot this week was toothpaste. :)
      In life there are no limitations. Except stupidity. If you're stupid, you're screwed.

      Stephan Pastis
    • rafe wrote:

      For winter day hikes I always set a turn-around time. The goal is to return to the starting trailhead before nightfall. If I haven't made it to my planned destination by the turn-around time, too bad.

      Does lots of experience make me less cautious? Not at all, rather the contrary. Or maybe it's the advancing years, and the decreased resistance to hypothermia or other more routine deprivations we suffer in the woods. Some of the stuff that we take in stride as youngsters can have more serious consequences as we get older.

      Getting back to the turn-around time, if you've read Krakauer's book "Into Thin Air" you know what that's about. Krakauer's guide perished on the mountain because he took too long getting a slow climber to the summit.
      Good points. And sometimes it's just a matter of being SOL.
      In life there are no limitations. Except stupidity. If you're stupid, you're screwed.

      Stephan Pastis
    • TrafficJam wrote:

      When I was a beginner, packing took several days and my gear was checked several times. Now I throw stuff in my pack and often forget important things, like matches or lighter when I hiked in the Smokies a few months ago. The only thing I forgot this week was toothpaste. :)
      I have a checklist. If it's more than a day hike (ie., camping involved) I always check my kit against the list. I print a fresh copy each time. I may not take everything on the list, but at least I've covered the basics, and reminds me about little things like lighters. The list changes over time. It used to include things like film and boot grease.

      In truth, I really ought to put together a winter-dayhike list as well. Often I take along more than I need, and make a final decision at the trailhead.
      Files
    • TrafficJam wrote:

      I've bailed quite a few times in uncomfortable situations but always feel like crap afterwards.
      It feels bad, because you've let down your buddies, but in the end, it's the brave thing to do. One instructor that I worked with was fond of saying: "The mark of a mountaineer isn't the summits he's conquered: it's the summits he's turned back from. That's the part that takes real courage, calling a halt when you know you're letting the team down."

      As Rafe said, "My wife doesn't read this," so I can share some personal recent experience.

      In late 2014 I was on a trip with some friends (all of whom are less than half my age), and the leader suddenly felt dizzy and had to sit down. I repeated the adage at him - explicitly giving him permission to call a halt. It turned out that he'd had nothing to eat or drink that morning but some coffee thingy from Starbuck's and a couple of Slim Jims - all sugar, salt and caffeine! He was both dehydrated and hungry. Ladling some hot soup into him perked him right up, and in twenty minutes he was raring to go. His general color and aspect had changed to the point where I couldn't see a good reason not to press on. It turned out to be a good trip.

      TrafficJam wrote:

      Do you think hikers go through different phases? I have and will probably go though more. I've been the novice hiker who is afraid of everything, the limited experience hiker who's afraid of nothing, and the hiker who now knows enough to be cautious again. Is there another phase where you have so much experience, you're no longer cautious?

      The "have so much experience, you're no longer cautious," is a well-known problem. Sociologists call the problem, "the normalization of deviance." Sociologist Diane Vaughan:

      Diane Vaughan wrote:

      Social normalization of deviance means that people within the organization become so much accustomed to a deviant behaviour that they don't consider it as deviant, despite the fact that they far exceed their own rules for elementary safety. But it is a complex process with some kind of organizational acceptance. The people outside see the situation as deviant whereas the people inside get accustomed to it and do not. The more they do it, the more they get accustomed
      The best remedy is prevention and education. I personally practice and recommend to others the use of checklists. I have spreadsheets, for instance, with my gear lists for trips of various durations in various seasons. I pack and check off the stuff, with my wife watching to double-check. I have a spreadsheet with the template for a safety plan that I'll leave at home with her when I go - all I need to fill in is dates, the contact information for local emergency services and an itinerary. I also at the start of each trip mentally run through the aviator's I'M SAFE checklist - which we should do whenever we start any hazardous activity, including before turning the key in the car:

      Illness - Am I well enough to be safe?
      Medication - Am I taking any medication that might affect judgment, or any medication that is new to me?
      Stress - Am I under much more stress than usual, which might also affect judgment? Have I recovered fully from any traumatic events such as a death, a job loss, a move?
      Alcohol - Am I sober, and some hours past sober? Drinking and driving don't mix. Neither do drinking and mountaineering. Every year, I hear about locals dying by attempting to hike the Catskill Escarpment while lubricated.
      Fatigue - If I've had no sleep the night before, or it's the end of a long day, or I've overdone, it's time to scale back. Way more than half of mountaineering accidents happen on descent, when the hiker has given his all, physically or mentally, on the climb and has nothing left for the descent.
      Eating - Am I well hydrated and properly nourished? (That's what my buddy missed up above...)

      It's a good idea also to have specific "go/no-go points," and run through I'M SAFE again plus agree with the team that we're going. Crossing the tree line, donning traction gear, passing a possible campsite, or making the decision to go for a second peak rather than return, are all such points.

      Once again, since my wife doesn't read this: On another trip, about a month later, with the same guys, I was a bit of a bastard about "the weakest hiker has veto power." We'd done one summit, and had returned to a col. It was the first winter high peak for one of them. There was about a 4-5 foot snowpack under the trees, and hard 'snowcrete' on the exposed ridges.

      When we got to the col, the rest of the team were all stoked from a quarter-mile glissade, and all for doing a second peak. Going on would also have, more or less, meant committing to a third summit. We had a second car that way, and in Macbeth's words, "returning were as tedious as go o'er." What's more, we'd already done way more than half the climbing, getting up to the ridge where we were standing.

      I said, "I'm just not feeling up to this." I couldn't put my finger on anything wrong specifically, other than perhaps mild fatigue, but I just didn't feel right about it. "I'm going to have to veto the plan. I'm not safe."

      I got some "aw, come on!" reactions from the rest of the guys. And a serious suggestion from one that if that's how I felt, I should just hike out and let them go on to the second car without me.

      "No. This is winter, and on top of it I'm not functioning 100%. I'm not OK with trying to get back down to the car solo." I had to add some profanity before I convinced them. The leader was the same one as on the other trip. "Remember what I said to you, about what makes a mountaineer?" With some grumbling, the leader conceded.

      We got through the steep part of the descent (about another 1200 feet of elevation, including a dodgy crossing of a small frozen waterfall) without incident, and settled down to about a mile-and-a-half snowshoe back to my car. About a half-mile into that, I suddenly fell over. I'd had an attack of leg cramps and literally couldn't stand without my left leg buckling. I fell off the trail into the 4-5 feet of uncompacted snow. The guys stamped out a platform for me with their snowshoes, and helped me get my pack off and get up onto it. A liter of half-strength PowerAid and fifteen or twenty minutes of RICE later, I felt OK to proceed. RICE was mostly easy. I was forced to rest, since I couldn't stand up. Ice I had all around me. Compression I didn't have a really good solution for, but I figured that my snug baselayer was actually doing a decent job. Elevation? Pile up some more snow.

      We got out to the car all right, but I was spent! If that had happened on the high-elevation route, the cramps would have come on while we were cramponning across a very sketchy ledge, and God knows what would have been the result. The secondary suggestion, that I should have left the party and soloed out, probably wouldn't have ended in disaster. I had shelter and sleeping bag, if worse came to worst. But I wasn't comfortable with it, and when I fell over, I gave the leader enough of a scare that he realized I was 100% right to insist that we bail.

      Over dinner in town, I was falling all over myself apologizing, with the rest of the guys telling me to shut up and not worry about it. We actually agreed that it was a successful trip, missing the secondary objective was really a minor thing. Chris had got his winter high peak, and I'd ticked the last one off one of my lists. I did chide the leader, ever so mildly, about basic safety: "the party goes no faster nor farther than the weakest hiker." He said, "yeah, when I saw you fall down I remembered that. I'll be more careful."

      Aside to ATLt - I know you know the spot I'm talking about, because you were just there (and you, too, wisely turned back). We'd summited Blackhead, and the second car was over at Barnum Road past Black Dome and Thomas Cole. I'm sure you can imagine what an attack of leg cramps would mean on the ledges that overlook Lockwood Gap - or even on the switchbacks coming down from there. It's a deadly spot. Although I think it's been about five years since anyone actually bought the farm on it, I know that it's happened more than once.
      I'm not lost. I know where I am. I'm right here.
    • AnotherKevin wrote:

      TrafficJam wrote:

      I've bailed quite a few times in uncomfortable situations but always feel like crap afterwards.
      It feels bad, because you've let down your buddies, but in the end, it's the brave thing to do. One instructor that I worked with was fond of saying: "The mark of a mountaineer isn't the summits he's conquered: it's the summits he's turned back from. That's the part that takes real courage, calling a halt when you know you're letting the team down."
      As Rafe said, "My wife doesn't read this," so I can share some personal recent experience.

      In late 2014 I was on a trip with some friends (all of whom are less than half my age), and the leader suddenly felt dizzy and had to sit down. I repeated the adage at him - explicitly giving him permission to call a halt. It turned out that he'd had nothing to eat or drink that morning but some Coffee thingy from Starbuck's and a couple of Slim Jims - all sugar, salt and caffeine! He was both dehydrated and hungry. Ladling some hot soup into him perked him right up, and in twenty minutes he was raring to go. His general color and aspect had changed to the point where I couldn't see a good reason not to press on. It turned out to be a good trip.

      TrafficJam wrote:

      Do you think hikers go through different phases? I have and will probably go though more. I've been the novice hiker who is afraid of everything, the limited experience hiker who's afraid of nothing, and the hiker who now knows enough to be cautious again. Is there another phase where you have so much experience, you're no longer cautious?
      The "have so much experience, you're no longer cautious," is a well-known problem. Sociologists call the problem, "the normalization of deviance." Sociologist Diane Vaughan:

      Diane Vaughan wrote:

      Social normalization of deviance means that people within the organization become so much accustomed to a deviant behaviour that they don't consider it as deviant, despite the fact that they far exceed their own rules for elementary safety. But it is a complex process with some kind of organizational acceptance. The people outside see the situation as deviant whereas the people inside get accustomed to it and do not. The more they do it, the more they get accustomed
      The best remedy is prevention and education. I personally practice and recommend to others the use of checklists. I have spreadsheets, for instance, with my gear lists for trips of various durations in various seasons. I pack and check off the stuff, with my wife watching to double-check. I have a spreadsheet with the template for a safety plan that I'll leave at home with her when I go - all I need to fill in is dates, the contact information for local emergency services and an itinerary. I also at the start of each trip mentally run through the aviator's I'M SAFE checklist - which we should do whenever we start any hazardous activity, including before turning the key in the car:
      Illness - Am I well enough to be safe?
      Medication - Am I taking any medication that might affect judgment, or any medication that is new to me?
      Stress - Am I under much more stress than usual, which might also affect judgment? Have I recovered fully from any traumatic events such as a death, a job loss, a move?
      Alcohol - Am I sober, and some hours past sober? Drinking and driving don't mix. Neither do drinking and mountaineering. Every year, I hear about locals dying by attempting to hike the Catskill Escarpment while lubricated.
      Fatigue - If I've had no sleep the night before, or it's the end of a long day, or I've overdone, it's time to scale back. Way more than half of mountaineering accidents happen on descent, when the hiker has given his all, physically or mentally, on the climb and has nothing left for the descent.
      Eating - Am I well hydrated and properly nourished? (That's what my buddy missed up above...)

      It's a good idea also to have specific "go/no-go points," and run through I'M SAFE again plus agree with the team that we're going. Crossing the tree line, donning traction gear, passing a possible campsite, or making the decision to go for a second peak rather than return, are all such points.

      Once again, since my wife doesn't read this: On another trip, about a month later, with the same guys, I was a bit of a bastard about "the weakest hiker has veto power." We'd done one summit, and had returned to a col. It was the first winter high peak for one of them. There was about a 4-5 foot snowpack under the trees, and hard 'snowcrete' on the exposed ridges.

      When we got to the col, the rest of the team were all stoked from a quarter-mile glissade, and all for doing a second peak. Going on would also have, more or less, meant committing to a third summit. We had a second car that way, and in Macbeth's words, "returning were as tedious as go o'er." What's more, we'd already done way more than half the climbing, getting up to the ridge where we were standing.

      I said, "I'm just not feeling up to this." I couldn't put my finger on anything wrong specifically, other than perhaps mild fatigue, but I just didn't feel right about it. "I'm going to have to veto the plan. I'm not safe."

      I got some "aw, come on!" reactions from the rest of the guys. And a serious suggestion from one that if that's how I felt, I should just hike out and let them go on to the second car without me.

      "No. This is winter, and on top of it I'm not functioning 100%. I'm not OK with trying to get back down to the car solo." I had to add some profanity before I convinced them. The leader was the same one as on the other trip. "Remember what I said to you, about what makes a mountaineer?" With some grumbling, the leader conceded.

      We got through the steep part of the descent (about another 1200 feet of elevation, including a dodgy crossing of a small frozen waterfall) without incident, and settled down to about a mile-and-a-half snowshoe back to my car. About a half-mile into that, I suddenly fell over. I'd had an attack of leg cramps and literally couldn't stand without my left leg buckling. I fell off the trail into the 4-5 feet of uncompacted snow. The guys stamped out a platform for me with their snowshoes, and helped me get my pack off and get up onto it. A liter of half-strength PowerAid and fifteen or twenty minutes of RICE later, I felt OK to proceed. RICE was mostly easy. I was forced to rest, since I couldn't stand up. Ice I had all around me. Compression I didn't have a really good solution for, but I figured that my snug baselayer was actually doing a decent job. Elevation? Pile up some more snow.

      We got out to the car all right, but I was spent! If that had happened on the high-elevation route, the cramps would have come on while we were cramponning across a very sketchy ledge, and God knows what would have been the result. The secondary suggestion, that I should have left the party and soloed out, probably wouldn't have ended in disaster. I had shelter and sleeping bag, if worse came to worst. But I wasn't comfortable with it, and when I fell over, I gave the leader enough of a scare that he realized I was 100% right to insist that we bail.

      Over dinner in town, I was falling all over myself apologizing, with the rest of the guys telling me to shut up and not worry about it. We actually agreed that it was a successful trip, missing the secondary objective was really a minor thing. Chris had got his winter high peak, and I'd ticked the last one off one of my lists. I did chide the leader, ever so mildly, about basic safety: "the party goes no faster nor farther than the weakest hiker." He said, "yeah, when I saw you fall down I remembered that. I'll be more careful."

      Aside to ATLt - I know you know the spot I'm talking about, because you were just there (and you, too, wisely turned back). We'd summited Blackhead, and the second car was over at Barnum Road past Black Dome and Thomas Cole. I'm sure you can imagine what an attack of leg cramps would mean on the ledges that overlook Lockwood Gap - or even on the switchbacks coming down from there. It's a deadly spot. Although I think it's been about five years since anyone actually bought the farm on it, I know that it's happened more than once.
      That's an awesome post. Ego and peer pressure may be our worst enemy.
      In life there are no limitations. Except stupidity. If you're stupid, you're screwed.

      Stephan Pastis
    • WanderingStovie wrote:

      I've done the tree-assisted self-arrest on cross country skis. Luckily for me, it was young and flexible.
      As have I.

      TrafficJam wrote:

      A.T.Lt wrote:

      I've posted this before, this past October I attempted to hike the Santanonnis in the Adirondacks. Plan was to hike in, set up camp and next morning summit the three peeks in question. While hiking in, the temps dropped to the teens, and then it snowed. The next morning, although prepared with all the proper gear and a map and compass I just didn't feel I was capable of going the distance. This mountain range the trails are unmarked herd paths and with the fresh snow the trail just wasn't visible so I opted to go home instead. Key is you have to know when to call it a day.
      I've bailed quite a few times in uncomfortable situations but always feel like crap afterwards.
      Do you think hikers go through different phases? I have and will probably go though more. I've been the novice hiker who is afraid of everything, the limited experience hiker who's afraid of nothing, and the hiker who now knows enough to be cautious again. Is there another phase where you have so much experience, you're no longer cautious?
      Yes. Every self-aware pilot at one time or another has a concern with this issue.

      Erik Sabiston the author of 'Dustoff 7-3' wrote of his experience.

      Lest we forget.....



      SSgt Ray Rangel - USAF
      SrA Elizabeth Loncki - USAF
      PFC Adam Harris - USA
      MSgt Eden Pearl - USMC
    • For some inexplicable reason, ski slope carnage continues.

      Sunday I was with a group of skiers when a skier hurtled by out of control. He impacted about 70 meters below us and from the outset, he appeared to have suffered nonsurviveable injuries. He was medevaced and pronounced DOA.

      The next day three of us were on a different slope when once again an out of control skier impacted rocks. A nurse initiated CPR until ski patrol arrived and took over. He's still listed as critical this pm.

      Lest we forget.....



      SSgt Ray Rangel - USAF
      SrA Elizabeth Loncki - USAF
      PFC Adam Harris - USA
      MSgt Eden Pearl - USMC
    • Dan76 wrote:

      For some inexplicable reason, ski slope carnage continues.

      Sunday I was with a group of skiers when a skier hurtled by out of control. He impacted about 70 meters below us and from the outset, he appeared to have suffered nonsurviveable injuries. He was medevaced and pronounced DOA.

      The next day three of us were on a different slope when once again an out of control skier impacted rocks. A nurse initiated CPR until ski patrol arrived and took over. He's still listed as critical this pm.
      That's terrible. I feel for the victim but also for the responders and witnesses. It's tough.
      In life there are no limitations. Except stupidity. If you're stupid, you're screwed.

      Stephan Pastis
    • Dan76 wrote:

      For some inexplicable reason, ski slope carnage continues.

      Sunday I was with a group of skiers when a skier hurtled by out of control. He impacted about 70 meters below us and from the outset, he appeared to have suffered nonsurviveable injuries. He was medevaced and pronounced DOA.

      The next day three of us were on a different slope when once again an out of control skier impacted rocks. A nurse initiated CPR until ski patrol arrived and took over. He's still listed as critical this pm.
      What ski area was this at? Oddly enough -- today was the last day of the season at Wachusett Mtn. A gorgeous day, and decent snow too.
      Images
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    • rafe wrote:

      Dan76 wrote:

      For some inexplicable reason, ski slope carnage continues.

      Sunday I was with a group of skiers when a skier hurtled by out of control. He impacted about 70 meters below us and from the outset, he appeared to have suffered nonsurviveable injuries. He was medevaced and pronounced DOA.

      The next day three of us were on a different slope when once again an out of control skier impacted rocks. A nurse initiated CPR until ski patrol arrived and took over. He's still listed as critical this pm.
      What ski area was this at? Oddly enough -- today was the last day of the season at Wachusett Mtn. A gorgeous day, and decent snow too.
      Snowbird and Snowbasin

      Lest we forget.....



      SSgt Ray Rangel - USAF
      SrA Elizabeth Loncki - USAF
      PFC Adam Harris - USA
      MSgt Eden Pearl - USMC
    • I've been skiing since I was eight years old, that would be 1960. I've been a ski patroller as well. Skiing fatalities were more or less unheard of then. I started hearing about them in the 1990s. Craziness, I tell you... maybe blame it on Warren Miller? ;)

      But hey, Snowbird as a world-class destination resort, so bound to attract a lot of craziness.
    • rafe wrote:

      A.T.Lt wrote:

      adirondackdailyenterprise.com/…al-mistake-.html?nav=5008

      I was just recently having a conversation with a friend on some of the topics discussed in this article. Social media has opened hiking, and climbing to a broad audience that sees pictures Of hikes and trips in amazing locations and hikers completing these adventures. Inexperienced people see them and think it's easily capable of doing. And for the most part it is until it goes bad. Then they're not prepared. I've witnessed these hikers out there and shake my head and cross my fingers hoping they make it out ok. And for the vast majority they do. Until like Ms. Davis their luck runs out.
      Thing is, in at least one of the two cases we're talking about, the victim was a highly experienced hiker. Hardly a newb. Ditto for that woman who died on Mt. Madison last winter.
      I spent the weekend hiking in the Adirondacks and stayed at the Loj where the deceased was staying prior to her fatal hike. Speaking with some people that had intimate knowledge of the incident I was told that Ms. Davis was horribly unprepared for the trail conditions. Wearing cotton sweat pants and sneakers without any winter gear, she attempted to summit a 4000' mountain on an unmarked heard path trail in snow and ice. Rescuers stated they followed her trail in the snow in a zig zag pattern indicating she was disorientated and experiencing symptoms of hypothermia. She was found dead propped in a sitting position against a tree. Her clothing was soaking wet. It appeared she may have tried to start a fire using her gloves as kindling.

      Very sad set of circumstances.
      RIAP
    • Another skier fatality along with an ATVer last weekend. Additionally two motorcyclist fatalities in the past 24 hours and one pedestrian fatality.

      Furthermore a runner friend just called and cancelled our bike outing for Sat AM. As she was on her daily run earlier today, she was impacted by a vehicle and left roadside. Fortunately just a femur fx and no TBI. Police have vehicle debris left roadside but no description as she was hit from behind. She was wearing a reflective vest, flashing red light on her hydration pack, and a hi-powered headlight.

      Lest we forget.....



      SSgt Ray Rangel - USAF
      SrA Elizabeth Loncki - USAF
      PFC Adam Harris - USA
      MSgt Eden Pearl - USMC
    • Dan76 wrote:

      Another skier fatality along with an ATVer last weekend. Additionally two motorcyclist fatalities in the past 24 hours and one pedestrian fatality.

      Furthermore a runner friend just called and cancelled our bike outing for Sat AM. As she was on her daily run earlier today, she was impacted by a vehicle and left roadside. Fortunately just a femur fx and no TBI. Police have vehicle debris left roadside but no description as she was hit from behind. She was wearing a reflective vest, flashing red light on her hydration pack, and a hi-powered headlight.
      Very sad - I have stopped and had a polite conversation or two with runners who were not visible - enough. Also wishing a speedy recovery for your friend.
      Why question the intentions of a road-crossing chicken?
    • Dan76 wrote:

      Another skier fatality along with an ATVer last weekend. Additionally two motorcyclist fatalities in the past 24 hours and one pedestrian fatality.

      Furthermore a runner friend just called and cancelled our bike outing for Sat AM. As she was on her daily run earlier today, she was impacted by a vehicle and left roadside. Fortunately just a femur fx and no TBI. Police have vehicle debris left roadside but no description as she was hit from behind. She was wearing a reflective vest, flashing red light on her hydration pack, and a hi-powered headlight.
      A very good friend was hit by a car while riding his bike, broken ribs and in a neck/spine brace for a while. The bike didn't survive. Another acquaintance hit a dog on his bike and has a fractured pelvis and massive road rash. I don't think the dog survived. :(
      In life there are no limitations. Except stupidity. If you're stupid, you're screwed.

      Stephan Pastis
    • For me, I find discussions of safety fall apart with the simple question "Is it safe?", since in almost all cases it's like asking "How long is a piece of string?" Almost everything involves some risk. Some are so inconsequential to be ignored. Some are significant, but the benefits outweigh the risk. Some are overblown. Some are under appreciated. Humans generally suck at doing cost-benefit analyses.
    • odd man out wrote:

      For me, I find discussions of safety fall apart with the simple question "Is it safe?", since in almost all cases it's like asking "How long is a piece of string?" Almost everything involves some risk. Some are so inconsequential to be ignored. Some are significant, but the benefits outweigh the risk. Some are overblown. Some are under appreciated. Humans generally suck at doing cost-benefit analyses.
      without the proper separate insurance -- which almost no shuttlers who charge for a shuttle have that you find on a website -- the shuttler is not insured if involved in an accident. in effect, they are risking their entire net worth for a hundred dollar shuttle fee. thats a piss poor cost-benefit analysis; or most likely, no analysis done at all.
      2,000 miler
    • max.patch wrote:

      odd man out wrote:

      For me, I find discussions of safety fall apart with the simple question "Is it safe?", since in almost all cases it's like asking "How long is a piece of string?" Almost everything involves some risk. Some are so inconsequential to be ignored. Some are significant, but the benefits outweigh the risk. Some are overblown. Some are under appreciated. Humans generally suck at doing cost-benefit analyses.
      without the proper separate insurance -- which almost no shuttlers who charge for a shuttle have that you find on a website -- the shuttler is not insured if involved in an accident. in effect, they are risking their entire net worth for a hundred dollar shuttle fee. thats a piss poor cost-benefit analysis; or most likely, no analysis done at all.

      And to get that insurance you will find that the carrier demands proof that your business is liceneed as a taxi or limo service, your staff all have chauffeurs' licenses, you've done criminal background checks on any one who might be interacting with a customer, and God help you if the customer is a minor. It's complicated.
      I'm not lost. I know where I am. I'm right here.