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KD Talbot
08-28-2007, 09:20 PM
This article in the Boston Globe raised a lot of controversy over on the Views from the Top Forum. What do people here think?

http://www.explorenewengland.com/travel?article=/newhampshire/articles/2007/08/26/uphill_battle

KDT

Bill O
08-28-2007, 09:26 PM
What's the controversy?

Were they always planning on taking the cog down? The only debate for me is whether or not they get to claim their first Mount Washington summit.

KD Talbot
08-28-2007, 10:02 PM
The thread is in the Q and A New England section titled Boston Globe Article.

Here:

http://www.viewsfromthetop.com/index-vftt.html

See for yourself, if you have the time, it is a very long thread. Most feel it was imprudent to take kids under 10 up in bad conditions. Most also feel it was irresponsible to print the article without mention of how to make it safely to the top, and they feel that this will lead to more people going unprepared and pushing on to the summit when they should be turning back. "If these kids can do it, so can I."

The writer also claims that they had their Cog tickets in advance, which you can't do, unless you buy a round trip, but only use it to come down, which is undetermined if this is what they did.

It is also a point, as you stated, that they shouldn't claim the peak because they didn't hike back out, but that seems to be the least of the controversy.

KDT

Bill O
08-28-2007, 10:40 PM
It is also a point, as you stated, that they shouldn't claim the peak because they didn't hike back out, but that seems to be the least of the controversy.

KDT

I figured, but I like to cause trouble.

To be even more difficult I'd argue that there is nothing wrong with climbing Mount Washington in challenging conditions. Ten years old does seem a little young. Has anybody looked at the actual weather conditions for that day?

Even non-fiction is trumped up with drama and exaggerations. 35mph winds get rounded to "about 50mph". A passing snow shower becomes "we hiked in a snowstorm." It's not exactly a lie.

Maybe they did hold a roundtrip ticket and only planned on using half. It wouldn't be the first time in history anybody has done that.

FisherCat
08-28-2007, 10:58 PM
The big fear also is that such a report with its hints of bravado,devil-may-care, all-conquering spirit despite the risks attitude, is that it may propagate others to do the same. The Whites cannot be mitigated. These mountains can be tiring to a rookie, however most unfamiliar with them merely look at the easy access, seemingly short mileage("I walk that at home"),and elevation gain. Why have there been incidents on Jefferson this year, people look at the starting elevation of Ridge of the Caps Trail and say "no problem", look at the amount of rescues there this year alone. I would rather read an article where one will honestly discuss the risks, the factors, and their realization of such then a blown up drama. Admittedly, the author sure is getting publicity from the hiking community.

Bill O
08-28-2007, 11:05 PM
Upon further reading I find myself more confused but I'm not losing any sleep.

As other people noted in VFTT there may have been some artistic license in this article. Afterall, its not a science journal.

I'm trying to think how old I was when my family hiked from Madison hut to Lakes in 45F degree rain and fog. Probably 10 or 11. At that age it was a monstrous undertaking. The weather, the distance, the thought of hiking for 8 hours when a car could cover that distance on the highway in 8 minutes. I do remember that I was cold, my hands were numb, and at that age I was probably a little scared. Of course, we made it. My hands did thaw, my socks were still wet the next day. In hindisght it wasn't scary, but actually kind of fun. And although it felt like 45F it probably was much warmer.

I have a feeling all of these people could have easily hiked down. They would have been cold and grumpy but they would have made it. Given the prospect of listening to those kids complain for the next four hours I'd take the cog.

Bill O
08-28-2007, 11:10 PM
I would rather read an article where one will honestly discuss the risks, the factors, and their realization of such then a blown up drama. Admittedly, the author sure is getting publicity from the hiking community.

It's a good thing nobody ever talks about the odds of dying on Mount Washington. That would send an even worse message.

If somebody can fill in the blanks please do.

Number of deaths (excluding Cog accidents, auto road accidents and plane crashes) divided by the total number of people who ever traveled on the slopes of Mount Washington.

Steve M
08-28-2007, 11:14 PM
The thread is in the Q and A New England section titled Boston Globe Article.

Here:

http://www.viewsfromthetop.com/index-vftt.html

See for yourself, if you have the time, it is a very long thread. Most feel it was imprudent to take kids under 10 up in bad conditions. Most also feel it was irresponsible to print the article without mention of how to make it safely to the top, and they feel that this will lead to more people going unprepared and pushing on to the summit when they should be turning back. "If these kids can do it, so can I."

The writer also claims that they had their Cog tickets in advance, which you can't do, unless you buy a round trip, but only use it to come down, which is undetermined if this is what they did.

It is also a point, as you stated, that they shouldn't claim the peak because they didn't hike back out, but that seems to be the least of the controversy.

KDT
For me I think this guy made a bad judgement call yet things turned out alright. If someone had slipped and broken a leg they all would have been in serious trouble.

After reading this, "If we could just make it to the shelter at the summit, we could take the Cog Railway down, a far preferable option." I don't think he was saying he had the tickets in advance. Just that at that point he felt it to be the better way. That sets off alarms in me because tree line is far closer than the summit at that point and the had no clue if the storm and winds would get worse.

As far as bagging the summit is concerned, making it to the summit is great and rewardable, but most mountains don't have a shuttle or train to save your butt. The only way down is the way you went up.

billysinc
08-29-2007, 07:36 AM
I would have commented over there except for the fact that's its an exclusive "invitation only" web board.

Gorque
08-29-2007, 08:10 AM
If I read this correctly, the group got rained upon (sleeted, hailed and snowed upon as well) after it reached the top of the headwall. I have to agree that going back down Lionshead in those conditions would've been dangerous, especially when the auto road is only a short lateral hike away to lower safety.

I think the criticism should be directed on the initial decision to climb given the known prevailing conditions at the start.

KD Talbot
08-29-2007, 09:49 AM
I have to maintain that going back down below treeline from Lion Head would be safer (and smarter) than forging on to the summit in those conditions.

In an email reply to one of the posters on VFTT the author claimed he had bought the train tickets in advance. See post#25.

VFTT is not exclusive, you just need a sponsor so that they don't get swamped with spammers. I will gladly sponsor anyone from this forum.

KDT

Steve M
08-29-2007, 11:57 AM
It's kind of interesting to see the author of the article state, "If we could just make it to the shelter at the summit." I sort of remember those words used in the book, "Not Without Peril". That is the critical decision point many face, most are o.k., some have perished.

Rich
08-29-2007, 12:47 PM
I would have commented over there except for the fact that's its an exclusive "invitation only" web board.

For the Elite, huh! :rolleyes:

Want to know what I think? I could care less! How many hundreds of people do the exact same thing and DON'T write a story in the paper about it. People do what they want how they want. There are the people that chime in here asking how to go about their first climb up MW and there are the others that hike up with a Bud in one hand and a Camel in the other. It is what it is...

billysinc
08-29-2007, 01:10 PM
No, not for the elite. Just the chosen few. I'm a member of quite a few bulletin boards. That particular one just happens to have a policy that you have to be sponsored. Unfortunately I don't personally know anyone who is a member so all I can do is read the responses. It's their board and those are the rules.

The replies in the thread in question are pretty much all over the map. Some I agree with, some I don't.

Steve M
08-29-2007, 01:19 PM
No, not for the elite. Just the chosen few. I'm a member of quite a few bulletin boards. That particular one just happens to have a policy that you have to be sponsored. Unfortunately I don't personally know anyone who is a member so all I can do is read the responses. It's their board and those are the rules.

The replies in the thread in question are pretty much all over the map. Some I agree with, some I don't.
Kevin has stated above that he is more than willing to sponsor anyone from this forum that would like to join VFTT.

billysinc
08-29-2007, 01:21 PM
I PM'd Kevin earlier. I certainly appreciate his offer.

JimS
08-29-2007, 03:34 PM
If someone else needs a sponsor, I'll happily take a seasoned civil regular here under my wing at VFTT.

I have two problems with the article...misinformation and attitude.

Stating that there is shelter and transportation down at the top is simply not always true. Stating that it's safer to go up mount washington than to retreat downwards is about the worst advise you can publish. I have seen in my time at the top way to many close calls from people with the same attitude, many that make the papers, many do not.

The one in my mind that did make the papers occured last september...where a nearly tragic hypothermia case broke into the stage office late at night under the most bizzare set of curcumstances and an absolute tragic comedy of errors... With the underlying attitude of I'll be safe if I go up...

rockin rex
08-29-2007, 04:24 PM
Seeing that I have climbed Washington with 2 of my children and I also helped carry the dead father off Mount Madison in 1986, who made a wrong turn, I feel I have a right to chime in on this. When you climb with Children you take full responsibility for their safety!! When you check the weather and it looks bad you don't put children at risk!! If the folks at Pinkham says it looks bad up there LISTEN TO THEM!! Going by yourself is one thing but don't put children at risk. If the cog had shut down and the auto road closed (which has happend) what would they have done?? You have to plan on being able to get down on your own power or you shouldn't be up there. To push on in bad weather is foolish. From what I understand the bad weather hit between Lions Head and Alpine Garden Trail. Isn't the Tucks trail much closer at that point than the summit? The bottom line,as many people have stated, the father should have never climbed that day with the kids expecting a ride off the top. Thank God this turned out alright. Ask the son who lost his dad in 1986 what he thinks??

Breeze
08-29-2007, 05:12 PM
I'm one of the posters on the thread at VFFT.

Hi Jim S! ( miss your presence at MW! Hope your new beginning is going well!)

I'm a bit "worked up" over the Globe's Infomercial for MW and the Cog Railway ( and the Mt Washington Resort Hotel), because I see so darn much of the same expectations /behaviors at MW, and I hate to see those attitudes "glorified" as "good choices" in a major newspaper.

Neither the Cog, the Auto Road or NH State Parks is in the business of saving hikers from their own misjudgments.

Operational decisions with the Cog, Auto Road, and State Parks are just as dependent on weather as any hiker's decision. Rescue is not a liability that business will underwrite.

Breeze

Steve M
08-29-2007, 05:23 PM
Someone with the ability to write a very detailed and concise letter should write the editor of the Globe and see if a more sobering view of Mt W. could be published. Although, if it's not as exciting as this fathers story of his "victory over the elements" than I doubt it would be published.

Gorque
08-29-2007, 05:34 PM
I can see the auto road being closed in June because of a cold spring and therefor no vehicular traffic being on it, but I've always viewed it as a quick and easy way down by foot to safety and shelter, especially after Memorial Day, when compared to some of the other more direct and therefor steeper trails in area, which could become treacherous in those conditions.

*whew* That was one looong sentence. :D

KD Talbot
08-29-2007, 07:09 PM
Someone with the ability to write a very detailed and concise letter should write the editor of the Globe and see if a more sobering view of Mt W. could be published. Although, if it's not as exciting as this fathers story of his "victory over the elements" than I doubt it would be published.

How's this?

To the Editor:
>
Steve Jermanok missed an opportunity in Mt. Washington Turns a
> Cold, Wet Eye on Boys' Rite of Passage (August 26, 2007) to display
> humility in the face of that mountain’s great power to destroy lives in an
> instant. I suspect his article started out to do just that, but somehow
> the more prominent tone was one of arrogance. The three adults in his
> group assumed the same attitude that 139 dead people assumed before them –
> that they were somehow better equipped to challenge Mother Nature. I
> wonder what their plan was to protect the three children who trusted the
> adults to make good judgments. I know from Steve’s other work that his
> children are experienced hikers, but this too, did not come through in
> this article. What probably started out as a cautionary tale was edited into
> one in which an unwitting reader is left with an ambivalent regard for a
> beautiful but potentially deadly mountain. I expect better from The
> Globe.
>
> Sincerely,
> John Hansen
> Member,
> Pemigewasset Search and Rescue Team
> Franconia, New Hampshire


KDT

billysinc
08-29-2007, 07:39 PM
One thing that strikes me wrong about one of the comments made. Someone felt that it's ok to put children into a potentially bad situation to "toughen" them up. Oddly enough this same poster would probably be the most critical should something bad have occurred.

That's thought number one.

Thought number two is you're talking about fairly young kids. Now granted kids are pretty resilient and generally pretty agile. However what if something happened to one of the adults? Could those kids have saved themselves as well as an injured adult in deteriorating conditions?

Granted none of us were there so we don't know exactly what these folks were faced with. Myself as well as many of you have been in poor conditions. Sometimes you continue, sometimes you don't. Personally I know my limits and don't mind admitting when I've reached them. Several years back we were doing a hike in the Great Gulf that would take us up the headwall. As we were close to starting up the headwall the weather turned nasty. Could we have made it? Possibly but we decided to hunker down and wait. We waited in our tents until the following day. A decision I've made before and I wouldn't hesitate to make again. Sure we could have been a bunch of hero's and kept going or we could have been just a bunch of dead hero's.

Bill O
08-29-2007, 07:44 PM
A review of the "grand list" here:

http://www.mountwashington.com/deaths/index.html

indicates that its not really fair to toss around the number 139 for weather related fatalities on Mount Washington.

I don't think the 8 people who died on the Cog assumed they were better equipped to handle the bad weather.

Here's some highlights:

8 - Plane crashes
1 - Murder
1 - Train engine explosion
4 - Slideboard Accidents
2 - Car accidents (includes a carriage accident, those are like cars)
1 - Stroke (maybe it was related to stress in bad weather)
5 - Drowned (ironically most occured in the "Dry" River)
7 - Skiing accidents (I won't rule out weather here)

"Killed by fall" seems to be the leader. That's another tossup. Most probably had nothing to do with weather conditions.

Bill O
08-29-2007, 07:51 PM
One thing that strikes me wrong about one of the comments made. Someone felt that it's ok to put children into a potentially bad situation to "toughen" them up. Oddly enough this same poster would probably be the most critical should something bad have occurred.



Who wants to toughen up the kids? Somebody on this forum?

We still haven't determined the actual weather conditions for this day. Which is an easy task should we determine the day they climbed.

Gorque
08-29-2007, 08:20 PM
Late June with a temp of 37 and a wind-chill in the teens is all that I've seen mentioned.

billysinc
08-29-2007, 09:08 PM
Who wants to toughen up the kids? Somebody on this forum?

We still haven't determined the actual weather conditions for this day. Which is an easy task should we determine the day they climbed.


No, that was on the VFTT forum.

Steve M
08-30-2007, 12:43 AM
Actually, it was taken from the article, the direct quote: "He pointed to the temperature at summit, which read 37 degrees Fahrenheit with a windchill factor in the teens."

billysinc
08-30-2007, 07:49 AM
actually I was referring to post number 6 from the thread on VFTT

actual quote
I say thumbs up to this guy for not being such a wimp and toughening up those 3 kids a bit.

Steve M
08-30-2007, 10:15 AM
Sorry, it's sometimes hard to keep track of what people are referring to when there are more than one question or thought line running.:o

rockin rex
08-30-2007, 04:03 PM
There are better ways to toughen up kids than put them at risk. My 14 year old is tough ( ask blue dog) but he didn't get that way by putting him at risk.
When I did seek the peak with him we did Huntington but I always had one eye on the weather. He fully understood if the weather was bad down we would go. Once I got to the fan and was committed to the climb I was not comfortable until I reached the top. I have hiked so often with my kids and their safety is ALWAYS number 1!!!!!!!!! YOU CAN NEVER LET YOUR GOALS OVER RIDE THE SAFETY OF THE CHILDREN.

Charlie
08-30-2007, 07:43 PM
There are better ways to toughen up kids than put them at risk. My 14 year old is tough ( ask blue dog) but he didn't get that way by putting him at risk.
When I did seek the peak with him we did Huntington but I always had one eye on the weather. He fully understood if the weather was bad down we would go. Once I got to the fan and was committed to the climb I was not comfortable until I reached the top. I have hiked so often with my kids and their safety is ALWAYS number 1!!!!!!!!! YOU CAN NEVER LET YOUR GOALS OVER RIDE THE SAFETY OF THE CHILDREN.


i say not only kids how about friends .when i was on the EDU trip we came across some men in there 20s and were mad that one of there friends was lagging far behind .thats not nice to go on with out there friend . we were hiking and i started falling behind and the hole group stopped and waited to make sure i was OK . then the all went at my pace .and when we were done i said thanks to each one for doing that and it made me enjoy the hike a lot more .

Bill O
08-30-2007, 08:24 PM
I think I missed the point that others were trying to make.

The problem here isn't with the weather conditions. For experienced and well-equipped hikers this was nothing more than a challenging day. If you're from Scotland this was about as nice as it ever gets. I think even the hikers in the story were prepared for this trip.

But that's not how the article was written. They advertised ignoring expert warnings and started the hike with the mindset that guaranteed refuge was awaiting at the summit. And they put themselves at the mercy of the Cog.

From the article I got the impression they were staying at the Mount Washington Resort. Assuming that's the one in Bretton Woods maybe their intention all along was to take the Cog down.

Steve M
08-30-2007, 11:07 PM
I think I missed the point that others were trying to make.

The problem here isn't with the weather conditions. For experienced and well-equipped hikers this was nothing more than a challenging day. If you're from Scotland this was about as nice as it ever gets. I think even the hikers in the story were prepared for this trip.

But that's not how the article was written. They advertised ignoring expert warnings and started the hike with the mindset that guaranteed refuge was awaiting at the summit. And they put themselves at the mercy of the Cog.

From the article I got the impression they were staying at the Mount Washington Resort. Assuming that's the one in Bretton Woods maybe their intention all along was to take the Cog down.
That's the same impression I got reading the article. I have to agree, the way this trip is portrayed to a mass audience from Boston and the surrounding area with so many inexperienced people is irresponsible. It portrays exactly the opposite of what the AMC and MWO is trying to teach about the mountain. The idea that the top of Mt. W. is any guarantee of "shelter", or a safe haven, or even a ride down as an escape from the elements is stretching it to say the least.