View Full Version : Backpacker Survival Issue

Bill O
09-21-2008, 05:45 PM
Anybody see the Backpacker Magazine "survival" issue? Its a fun read, not sure I agree with everything.

I wonder if it is a coincidence they listed 231 survival skills?

Here's a shocker. A cell phone was listed as one of the most important and mandatory survival tools by a veteran Yosemite SAR ranger. With caveats I completely agree. You just can't beat the "strength-to-weight" ratio with a mobile phone.

09-21-2008, 06:29 PM
I have that issue. Nice issue. BTW, there is an article of Colby Coombs survival after an avalanche took out his friends on Mt. Foraker. I met Coombs as he is owner of the guide service I will be going out with this next summer. I would recommend the Alaska Mountaineering School to anyone who has aspirations of climbing up in Alaska. I took a course with them recently and they really made sure I knew my stuff and that is what I wanted to get out of the program.

Bill O
09-21-2008, 06:44 PM
I recommend AAI, but I think they are all pretty good. Colby Coombs is a great mountaineer. He literally wrote the book on steep skiing in Utah's Wasatch mountains.

The view of Mount Foraker from Kahiltna base is stunning. If you ever get to Alaska and climbing Denali is not an option consider taking a scenic flight into Denali Basecamp, its an awesome spot...and pretty affordable too.

09-22-2008, 08:15 AM
The annual survival issue is always interesting - although they do tend to try to "sensationalize" a bit too much sometimes. The cell phone as a survival tool seems like a good idea, but I wonder how many people carry one and depend on it too much. Sure a good chance of not having a signal when you're stuck somewhere you really need it.

Mount Washington made the issue 3 times, but most wasn't great press. One was as the second deadliest mountain in the US (behind Mt Hood) based on total fatalities. The second was as the 3rd most dangerous hike in the US. This was based on what they admit is not a very scientific formula that includes scores for predators, terrain, extreme weather and "the X-factor" (which they describe as "some unique challenge"). The weather and x-factor categories are weighted twice the other two. Mt Washington gets a 1 (out of 10) for predators, 6 for terrain, 10 for weather and 7 for x-factor. They don't say what the x-factor is for any of them so it's hard to tell what they were thinking.

The last one is a bit more positive - with the first in their list of 10 epic hikes being a winter Presidential traverse. They termed this "America's Little Everest".

Bill O
09-22-2008, 08:44 AM
They were arguing that the pings a cell phone emits are far more valuable than getting voice service. You may not get voice service but there is a good chance a ping will be heard.

It appears that the X-factor includes popularity and proximity to large populations. The average reader thinks its cool that their mountain is on top of the list. Some no-name peak in Idaho with 5 ascents and 1 death isn't going to make the list.

That was generous to call the traverse a little Everest. Must include that x-factor again. It seems that anybody who is reasonably fit, well equipped and blessed with a few days of good weather could easily make the traverse in winter. Pleasing the readers was a major factor here again.

I'm not complaining as much as it looks. After all, this is the reason I subscribe to Backpacker and not Climbing magazine. Backpacker is fun and knows how to appease the masses while Climbing alienated all but the most hard-core alpinists.

12-31-2009, 07:16 AM
I'm sure that they put this article on the website a long time ago (comments go back to last year) but I hadn't seen it online until the link showed up in the weekly email today. Interesting to see their picks of the 10 most dangerous hikes and the criteria used to decide them. As Bill said before, Mt Washingon obviously got in on the X-factor.


12-31-2009, 08:59 AM
Oh, thanks for the heads up, I don't buy Backpacker much (was a pain in the rear to get then to stop renewing me) but I'll snag this issue

12-31-2009, 09:11 AM
Not only that but it made number 4 on the list.