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Breeze
09-07-2008, 06:09 PM
Here is the summary of an incident last night , as related to me this morning by a MW State Park Staffer:

"Hiker" summited MW on Saturday 9/6/08 at 5:30 PM, just as the rain from Hanna was beginning. He signed the register as coming from the Ammo Trailhead. There were no seats left for down-bound riders by any possible means via the Auto Road so he was going to have to get down on his own. Dressed in a windbreaker, t-shirt, jeans, sneakers.....no pack, no water, no food, his only gear a cell phone and and a wind-up/crank "flashlight", he headed down Jewell Trail from the Summit Building @ close to 6 PM.

10 PM phone rings at State Park staffers home... from NH Fish and Game Doug Gralenski.... said hiker is lost on the west side of MW and the cell phone caller is patched thru. Talking through the clues and possibilities, hiker says he thinks he is in the vicinity of two brook crossings and may have missed a trail connection from the Jewell Trail towards Marshfield Station.

The probabilities are weighed and the hiker's location narrowed to "most likely" off of the Boundary Trail in the vicinity of Clay Brook.

Matt Holmes of NH F&G was woken up and sent to fetch out the hiker, who was indeed in the close vicinity of Clay Brook on the Boundary Trail.

The exercise is to Identify and Explain from the above summary why this "hiker" had to be "fetched out"?

Anyone game to participate? There is no prize and there is no scoring involved, but 2 word answers are discouraged :rolleyes:

Breeze

Gorque
09-07-2008, 06:33 PM
Dressed in a windbreaker, t-shirt, jeans, sneakers.....no pack, no water, no food, his only gear a cell phone and and a wind-up/crank "flashlight", he headed down Jewell Trail from the Summit Building @ close to 6 PM.

There is a new reality "Survival" show airing this fall and this is one of the contestant? :D

TrishandAlex
09-07-2008, 07:23 PM
So hiker did not have a map? If so, he probably could have guessed how close he was to the road...Boundary Trail goes 1 mile from Jewell to road by Cog, yes? (We not in NH now and I don't have my maps at hand).

Maybe he had fallen and become injured? Too hungry/dehydrated to go any farther (or is it "further")?

mtruman
09-08-2008, 06:39 AM
There is no reason why this hiker should have been "fetched out". He could certainly have stayed where he was and waited till morning - probably a bit uncomfortably - and then retraced his route back to the right trail. Obviously harder without a map.

Mountain search and rescue has way too many calls like this for people who do very foolish things in the mountains. The rescuers are too often put at risk to recover someone who has no business being out there in the kind of situation that this person was. If you want to read some interesting views on this subject you should get "Wilderness Ethics" by Laura and Guy Wateman (which I'm just finishing reading) While I don't agree with 100% of their opinions I do think that they are right on this subject. Once again, too many people think that the White Mountains are a theme park and that they don't have to be prepared or take care of themselves.

billysinc
09-08-2008, 08:24 AM
Equipment aside..........

Tropical storm on the way, 5:30 summit which meant a late start.

I guess his cable provider doesn't include the Weather Channel in his basic subscription package.

Gorque
09-08-2008, 08:31 AM
Once again, too many people think that the White Mountains are a theme park and that they don't have to be prepared or take care of themselves.

Why would anyone think that, what with the steam train to the top, the auto road, Tip-Top House and the pavilion. :rolleyes:

Bill O
09-08-2008, 08:32 AM
How many "museums" are on the summit of Mount Washington?

billysinc
09-08-2008, 08:57 AM
How many "museums" are on the summit of Mount Washington?


2 I think.

rockin rex
09-08-2008, 09:07 AM
I think the nail has been hit on the head. People look at the summit of Washinton and think cars, trains, food no problem. Too many of us have seen people like Breeze describes and they just keep coming. I guess thought is, get in trouble just call for help. Hurricane in forecast, hiking in jeans, no food, no water, no map and arrival to summit in late afternoon. What was he thinking. He should be charged for this sheer stupidity and should be sent to a class for hiker education. hum today there is going to be a hurricane. Let me try to climb Mount Washington solo and also let me get a late start and arrive at the top in the late afternoon. I just don't get it!!!!

mtruman
09-08-2008, 11:29 AM
Interesting timing for this. The latest issue of Backpacker Magazine has their list of the 10 most dangerous hikes in the US. Mount Washington is rated #3 on this list - mostly due to the rating of 10 out of 10 for weather danger. It probably should have been even more due to the "intangibles" rating for people underestimating it because it seems like a tourist destination as the last few people on this thread rightly point out.

By the way, #1 on the Backpacker list is the Bright Angel trail in the Grand Canyon. Notice any similarity?

Acrophobe
09-08-2008, 02:27 PM
I was wondering a little while ago - after reading a book on Everest that claimed 25% of successful summits of that mountain end in death - if anyone bothered keeping a similar figure for Washington. Probably not, huh?

Bill O
09-08-2008, 05:15 PM
Interesting timing for this. The latest issue of Backpacker Magazine has their list of the 10 most dangerous hikes in the US. Mount Washington is rated #3 on this list - mostly due to the rating of 10 out of 10 for weather danger. It probably should have been even more due to the "intangibles" rating for people underestimating it because it seems like a tourist destination as the last few people on this thread rightly point out.

By the way, #1 on the Backpacker list is the Bright Angel trail in the Grand Canyon. Notice any similarity?

Haven't seen it yet. I completely understand the point they are trying to make, but the statistical data would prove that both of these trails/mountains are among the safest in the world. Based on accidents per hiker. That wouldn't make for a very good article though.

If you had to guess, where is it safer to be a pedestrian? New York City or rural Vermont? Perception is completely opposite of statistics.

So what is the answer with regards to "fetching"?

Gorque
09-08-2008, 06:23 PM
The sad thing about all of this is that the hiker had an easy escape route; the auto road. It may have been the wrong side of the hill for him, but at least your down and food and shelter are then easy to be found.

KD Talbot
09-08-2008, 09:33 PM
I completely understand the point they are trying to make, but the statistical data would prove that both of these trails/mountains are among the safest in the world. Based on accidents per hiker.

I'm with Bill on this. What are they basing their statistics on? How many deaths have occurred on a particular mountain or trail? In 200 years 140+ people have died on or near MW, many of them on Cog accidents or sliding on the tracks. How many hundreds of thousands of people have had successful climbs in that time span. Is there any real record of how many injuries/rescues there have been?

The Grand Canyon? Well, yeah. Fat, out of shape tourists show up at the rim and say, "Well, it's all downhill." But then they have to climb back out, in oppressive heat. I'm guessing there's lots of cardiac arrest, heat exhaustion and heatstroke.

You can't put "hiker police" at every trailhead to check every person that decides to attempt a hike. Nobody has to pass a test to become a hiker. All we can do is hope to educate those who will listen to become safer hikers, and rescue those unfortunate ones who didn't bother to educate themselves before starting.

KDT

Steve M
09-08-2008, 10:49 PM
How many "museums" are on the summit of Mount Washington?

Maybe their should be a wax museum of those who perished while unprepared on the mountain?

TrishandAlex
09-09-2008, 06:55 AM
So what's the answer? Why did he need to be fetched out?

Gorque
09-09-2008, 08:23 AM
Maybe their should be a wax museum of those who perished while unprepared on the mountain?

Before or after their demise?

Brad
09-09-2008, 06:10 PM
I am just reading this thread for the first time. Questions and issues come in a flood.

- must have been a late start
- the hiker did not have a turnaround time - at this time I need to turn around to get back to the car before it gets dark
- sounds like no map and no headlamp
- going above tree line when a known storm was approaching - or did not check the MWO site for forecasts before heading out
- thinking a cell phone was a safety device
- thinking someone else can rescue me instead of taking responsibility for their own actions and decisions
- did he even think through the hike and what he was about to do beforehand (clueless)

Steve M
09-09-2008, 06:36 PM
I am just reading this thread for the first time. Questions and issues come in a flood.

- must have been a late start
- the hiker did not have a turnaround time - at this time I need to turn around to get back to the car before it gets dark
- sounds like no map and no headlamp
- going above tree line when a known storm was approaching - or did not check the MWO site for forecasts before heading out
- thinking a cell phone was a safety device
- thinking someone else can rescue me instead of taking responsibility for their own actions and decisions
- did he even think through the hike and what he was about to do beforehand (clueless)

I don't think he thinks!

Gorque
09-09-2008, 07:00 PM
I don't think he thinks!

Ya think? :)

Stets
09-09-2008, 08:45 PM
I am looking at this as an exercise. Believe me I know that hiking is the sport of self reliance. You must be prepared to rescue yourself.

However, this guy was not. I reviewed the facts given and have to assume that this guy was brought out because of the potential for this individual to become hypothermic.

Also, because of his location, it did not present a great risk to go get him.

But it was a great risk to leave him in that weather as unprepared as he was.

Lastly, he was brought out because it was reasonable in this case with all of the facts considered.

Bill O
09-09-2008, 09:32 PM
Maybe he got fetched out because America is full of incredibly compassionate and caring people who help people in need regardless of whether or not they made dumb choices.

Steve M
09-09-2008, 09:50 PM
Maybe he got fetched out because America is full of incredibly compassionate and caring people who help people in need regardless of whether or not they made dumb choices.

You da man..........;):):D:cool:

TrishandAlex
09-09-2008, 10:54 PM
While I agree that hiking in jeans with no pack isn't the best thing a hiker could do....

is it possible there's more to this story, some info we don't know about?

Perhaps he had a pack and lost it somehow? Had he been planning on meeting someone along the trail (that person may have been carrying gear)?

I know there are unprepared people out there. I'm just saying we don't know the full story here. He may well have been an idiot. Or there could be details of this story which soften our hearts a bit.

mtruman
09-10-2008, 08:32 AM
Maybe he got fetched out because America is full of incredibly compassionate and caring people who help people in need regardless of whether or not they made dumb choices.

You are definitely right Bill. The people on the SAR teams and others who routinely participate in these rescues are absolutely the most caring and selfless people you'll ever find. Same goes for the many others who are just out on the trail and go way out of their way to help other hikers who are in need.

What really makes me angry is that these people regularly get put at risk by those who go out there unprepared and get themselves needlessly in trouble. Even worse, many feel that SAR is a service provided to all those who are in the mountains and they don't feel the need to be prepared because they have this safety net. Worst of all are the cases where this sort of person is rescued and doesn't feel any sense of remorse since "SAR was just doing their job".

So should they be left out there? Probably not. There are too many ways that leaving someone like this in the woods even in non-extreme conditions could end in disaster. It would be nice if there were a better way. There have been many debates about fines, assessing the cost of rescue operations, requiring "certification" or "licenses" to hike and many others. All of these have their problems. No really good solution.

I'd still like to know what the answer is to the original "quiz" from Breeze.

TrishandAlex
09-10-2008, 09:34 AM
I'm guessing this hiker had no intention of requiring someone to rescue him. If he did indeed hike up without gear, he's guilty of ignorance, or there was some reason of which we know nothing about.

I'm not so inclined to judge folks who need to be rescued. We need to learn from them, yes. I don't feel anger toward anyone, though. Unprepared hikers with children are another story, that admittedly gets to me. This guy may have been an idiot when it comes to hiking properly. I guess I don't understand why there is a sense of fury toward him, though.

I would like to perhaps one day become part of a SAR team, when the kids are older. By then I should have a heap of hiking experience under my belt and be in much better shape. Speaking only for myself, I don't think I'd be upset at having to rescue this particualr kind of hiker -- unless I had to rescue the same hiker twice for the same stupid mistake (then I'd be ticked).

I would like to see some form of required hiker education before anyone's allowed on the trails. However, in reality I have no idea how that could possibly work. Can't exactly place guards along the trail and make hikers flash their permission cards...

Breeze
09-10-2008, 04:57 PM
I really didn't intend this to be a quiz with certain right answers. Thinking points and discussion were more in my mind.

Check out the intersection of Clay Brook with the Boundary Line Trail, compare to the location of the Ammo Trail Head.


Breeze

mtruman
09-10-2008, 05:11 PM
I really didn't intend this to be a quiz with certain right answers. Thinking points and discussion were more in my mind.

Check out the intersection of Clay Brook with the Boundary Line Trail, compare to the location of the Ammo Trail Head.


Breeze

So he's basically walked a mile and a half past his car and is now at the brook crossing. He was obviously very unaware of his location to turn right on the BLT. If he had tried to retrace his steps from there who knows which way he would have gone when he got back to the Jewell. Obviously wasn't very far for someone to hike in and get him (since they guessed right). What were the temps like in the valley at that point? Was he in any danger of hypothermia?

Breeze
09-10-2008, 05:18 PM
I don't want to edit my post of a few minutes ago, no need to go there.

For the registered users online, just look at how many non-registered guests we have. Some of these folks are looking for information about MWO, some are thinking about taking a walk in foliage season, and I commend them for "seeking information".

IF discussion here motivates a potential hiker of MW to think/rethink/re-evaluate and search out more information, it is a GOOD THING!

Breeze

Breeze
09-10-2008, 05:39 PM
So he's basically walked a mile and a half past his car and is now at the brook crossing. He was obviously very unaware of his location to turn right on the BLT. If he had tried to retrace his steps from there who knows which way he would have gone when he got back to the Jewell. Obviously wasn't very far for someone to hike in and get him (since they guessed right). What were the temps like in the valley at that point? Was he in any danger of hypothermia?

Temps in the valley were hovering around 46 F, winds at surface gusting 20-35 mph and he was soaked to the skin, not to mention he was " Off Trail" ( bushwhacking) at that point. He knew he was lost and needed help.

I'll GUESS the "rescue" decision was made on the hypothermia possibility. He was cogent enough to make the 911 call and describe his surroundings, but he really didn't know where he was in any NSEW fashion.

Yes, he needed help at that point, and he got it.

That last wrong-way turn wasn't his first mistake, however.

Breeze

KD Talbot
09-10-2008, 08:39 PM
Really, looking at this case, it is a textbook example of how one or two seemingly harmless mistakes can begin to multiply and take on the proverbial "snowball effect".

This one had a happy ending, but as can be seen, could have ended tragically. The right thing to do was to go and get him, rather than try to talk him out of the woods. Considering the mistakes he had already made, it might have been impossible. Also, at that point he was certainly in the early stages of hypothermia and would soon be losing any semblance of rational thought. I would not want to try to talk someone out of the woods on a cellphone that might fail at any moment, especially considering his worsening condition. This would have been as negligent as his own acts. Not an easy thing to have to live with.

Once he called 911, all the right decisions were made by SAR. Thanks for being there, guys!

TrishandAlex
09-11-2008, 03:04 PM
Temps in the valley were hovering around 46 F, winds at surface gusting 20-35 mph and he was soaked to the skin, not to mention he was " Off Trail" ( bushwhacking) at that point. He knew he was lost and needed help.

I'll GUESS the "rescue" decision was made on the hypothermia possibility. He was cogent enough to make the 911 call and describe his surroundings, but he really didn't know where he was in any NSEW fashion.

Yes, he needed help at that point, and he got it.

That last wrong-way turn wasn't his first mistake, however.

Breeze

Hypothermia -- yes, should have guess that right off the bat. Rain + cotton/jeans + low temps = severe possibility of hypothermia.

Breeze
09-11-2008, 07:05 PM
Ok. Throwing in the towel here. It gets discouraging sometimes from my vantage point when a car pulls in to the Auto Road at 11 AM looking for either :

the trailhead for tucks

or

the Cog.

How could I not be prejudiced in my own thinking?

Breeze