Mt Whitney Webcam
Mt Williamson Webcam
Feature Topics
Who's Online
0 registered (), 5 Guests and 69 Spiders online.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Forum Stats
3625 Members
10 Forums
5506 Topics
50492 Posts

Max Online: 382 @ 11/07/12 05:45 AM
Page 2 of 4 < 1 2 3 4 >
Topic Options
#16915 - 07/31/11 10:19 AM Re: Harrowing Day Trip 7/29/11 [Re: frediver]
Akichow Offline


Registered: 04/07/10
Posts: 659
Loc: SF Bay Area
I wasn't there either. I have read this report, Bob R's SAR's report, Dennis Mattinson's weather reports (complete with editorializing about the extraordinary nature of the storm), Doug Sr.'s reports, and a variety of other reports, including technical climbers who feared desperately for their lives as they climbed down from various parts of the Whitney Zone. Everyone seems to agree -- this was a storm of unusual ferocity. Indeed, according to Bob R., at least three separate SARs teams were dropped on the mountain the next morning to sweep for incidents. There are a number of reports of people dealing with various stages of hypothermia. I have also looked at the photos of the aftermath of the storm. The damage to the trail will persist for some time.

Under these circumstances, I would give the benefit of the doubt to someone who called 911. It is quite clear that many folks (and not just the original poster) were in fear for their lives, whether from lightning, rockfalls, floods, falling branches, or hypothermia, no doubt exacerbated by the inability to stay dry while crossing waist-high water in roaring creeks. Roasting marshmallows and going to work seem to have been the last thing on the minds of the folks who have reported in. At the very least, that call may have led to the chain of events that tipped off Myles at the Store of the existence of stranded hikers, and his generous acts in helping folks get down.

Finally, I want to again thank folks for writing up their harrowing experiences. I was fortunate to have great weather when I was there last week, but these reports are an invaluable reminder of the range of conditions that may exist, and the importance of being prepared.

Thanks, and again, congratulations on your safe return.


Top
#16916 - 07/31/11 10:43 AM Re: Harrowing Day Trip 7/29/11 [Re: frediver]
tdtz Offline


Registered: 08/26/10
Posts: 511
Loc: CA

Top
#16918 - 07/31/11 11:15 AM Re: Harrowing Day Trip 7/29/11 [Re: Akichow]
jhiker Offline


Registered: 07/30/11
Posts: 6
Loc: Reno Nevada
Thanks, Akichow--you have it exactly right. There would be no roasting of marshmallows on Friday night. For the record, I did not call 911 myself--a backpacker from another group did so, and I am glad she did. I do beleive that call probably resulted in Miles/Myles coming up the Old Trail to lead us to safety.

For those who are interested, selected photos of our trip (before and during the storm) are posted in the Picture Gallery.

Top
#16919 - 07/31/11 12:10 PM Safe returns
Deano Offline


Registered: 07/31/11
Posts: 1
Loc: Costa Mesa, Ca.
Very relieved to hear everyone made it down safely. I summited Friday @ 12:43 pm, just after the storm rolled in. After a few harrowing experiences, made it back safely at 7:00pm with my newfound friend Jeff, who I met on the summit. Knowing everybody is safe, that was one of the funnest adventures I've ever had!!!!!! I guess I've always been a little twisted.....
_________________________
Deano

Top
#16920 - 07/31/11 12:25 PM Re: Harrowing Day Trip 7/29/11 [Re: frediver]
DonCoqui Offline


Registered: 06/28/11
Posts: 47
Loc: Chula Vista, CA
Fred, you must be a cynic at heart... takes one to know one... although I'm in recovery. When you dont have anything good to say, it's better not to say anything at all like "Thumper" wisely said. Taking a space blanket up on a tour of Whitney on a day-hike?!? You gotta be kidding me... I'm a worrywart and I'd rather leave the blanket and bring my Nikon DSLR. Get real man.

Top
#16921 - 07/31/11 12:49 PM Re: Harrowing Day Trip 7/29/11 [Re: jhiker]
DonCoqui Offline


Registered: 06/28/11
Posts: 47
Loc: Chula Vista, CA
jhiker: thanks for the photos. The photo of the thunderclouds at Trail Crest is truly truly beautiful, scary,... and ominous of things to come. I'm glad you and your group made it down the mountain unharmed. It ought to go on a hiker's guide w/ the caption of "you've waited too long to turn around". Thanks again for posting it... it will help temper down "summit fever" on my next date w/ the mountain.

Top
#16923 - 07/31/11 01:39 PM Re: Harrowing Day Trip 7/29/11 [Re: DonCoqui]
frediver Offline


Registered: 07/31/11
Posts: 5
Loc: Ca. N.Cal
The main point of my off the wall reply was this.
The Mountains are not forgiving.
If you were unfortunate enough to be to high
on the Mountain when this happened then you
were in dire straights and needed to make them better.
If you were in an exposed position then you needed
shelter as your first priority, getting out is secondary.
You do everything to make your situation better not worse
and it sounded like get-home-itis made conditions worse for lots
of people.
And finally day hike or not you need to be prepared to sit still
and wait out a storm if necessary. The kit bits necessary to turn
most emergency situations into just inconvenient ones weigh
very little and are well worth the extra effort to pack.

Top
#16924 - 07/31/11 02:09 PM Re: Harrowing Day Trip 7/29/11 [Re: frediver]
Akichow Offline


Registered: 04/07/10
Posts: 659
Loc: SF Bay Area
What's that saying? Ah yes.

Before criticizing a man, walk a mile in his shoes.

Or in this case, 11 miles.

Jhiker: fabulous/chilling photo from Trail Crest -- thanks for sharing it!

Top
#16927 - 07/31/11 02:53 PM Re: Harrowing Day Trip 7/29/11 [Re: DonCoqui]
Bulldog34 Offline


Registered: 11/12/09
Posts: 1254
Loc: Atlanta
Luis - "recovering cynic" - I like it. Sounds like me at various stages in my life. Hard habit to shake. I'm just shocked anyone got off a successful 911 call. Three trips up this mountain the past two years, and I never had a single bar.

Top
#16928 - 07/31/11 03:34 PM Re: Harrowing Day Trip 7/29/11 [Re: Bulldog34]
Jeff Rose Offline


Registered: 07/30/11
Posts: 5
Loc: Menifee,ca.
It seems like Verizon has better coverage up there compared to my T-Mobile that stopped working in Lone Pine.

Top
#16942 - 07/31/11 07:43 PM Re: Harrowing Day Trip 7/29/11 [Re: Jeff Rose]
BigPines Offline


Registered: 07/31/11
Posts: 5
Loc: Wrightwood, CA
I was there that day with my 18 and 10-year-old sons.

I've done a bit of hiking but it was our first trip to Whitney. We camped at Outpost Thursday and left at 3:00 AM Friday the 29th for what we thought was going to be a day hike to the summit. I was unaware of any prediction of rain so we left some important gear at camp and as a result were very unprepared for what we encountered. I won't make that mistake again!

We got less than a mile from the top when the first sprinkles started coming down. It ended pretty quickly and we thought that may be the end of it. We were close to the top so we pressed on oblivious of the danger building with the storm. When we reached the structure at the summit, the rods on the roof were buzzing with electricity. We were very nervous about lightning strikes so we left within 5 minutes of reaching the summit.

When we were approximately a mile down the trail, we were hit with a volley of large hail stones that hit us so hard they were actually painful. The trail was more treacherous with the slushy hail/rain but we were more concerned with taking our time to get our footing right than racing down to camp.

On our way down, we encountered the couple with the three small children under five years old. The mother was holding the 1-year-old in her arms. I tried (like many others) to discourage her from continuing to the summit but she pressed on despite my warning. Some may say I am irresponsible for taking a 10-year-old but at least we trained together at high altitude for this trip and did other significant hiking first including Baden Powell two weeks earlier. I continue to be appalled and I really think this was child abuse or child endangerment at the very least. Those children had no business on that mountain even had the weather been beautiful.

When we reached Trail Crest, we were extremely concerned about lightning. We crossed the saddle very quickly and began down the mountain toward Trail Camp fighting very intense rain. Again, we were taking our time to get our footing right so we weren't running like some hikers. In retrospect, maybe we should have made a run for it!

We were soaked, it was windy and the rain continued to come down hard. We were not wearing appropriate clothing - especially my young son who was only wearing a long sleeve shirt instead of a jacket. However, the real trouble didn't begin until we got below Trail Camp. The trail had become a stream which was increasingly difficult to navigate. The lightning and thunder show was simply spectacular - some of it was pink (never seen that before) and striking very close to us. It was very frightening. The further down we got, the worse things got. The "trail stream" eventually became a flash flood with enough momentum to displace large rocks. Newly formed waterfalls were pouring off the mountain directly onto the trail in some places. It was difficult to make out the trail in several places and for the first time, I began to realize how serious our situation was.

With great difficulty, we fought our way to the first stream crossing above Outpost. I believe it was the Mirror Lake outlet but I'm not sure. What was a small stream we had crossed earlier that morning without even getting our feet wet, had risen significantly and was now moving very swiftly. I was extremely hesitant to attempt to cross the swift stream especially with the children in our party (we had an 11 year old with us in addition to my young son) so we looked for an alternate crossing but couldn't find anything better.

Reluctantly, we decided we had to take a chance crossing the stream given we were already soaked, nightfall was going to be upon us soon and at least three of the members of my party were already showing early signs of hypothermia including my young son. With some assistance from my new friend Mark who showed up on the other side of the stream just at this instance, we successfully crossed in waist high and fast moving water. Once we reached the other side, I shouted for joy! Mark looked at me and smiled slightly as he replied "That was the easy one."

We continued a short distance down the trail to find the second stream crossing which was now raging violently and spewing white water many feet into the air in some places. I knew there was no way we could responsibly cross this stream - let alone with kids. My heart sank as the realization set in that we were not going to reach our camp that night which was frustratingly less than a mile away. No one in our party had tents or sleeping bags and we were soaked to the bone.

While we stood at the bank of the stream to discuss the options, we all started to get VERY cold and began to get severe shakes. Two of the adults (including a 66 year old gentleman in our party) were starting to stumble and were incoherent. Mark graciously offered his 3-man tent as a rescue shelter so we piled 6 people in and dug in to spend an uncomfortable night stranded on the mountain. Mark and I immediately heated some water and started passing in hot soup and hot cocoa to the freezing victims.

Around dusk, a search and Rescue helicopter started circling our area and Outpost Camp below us. They eventually made a daring partial landing on one skid in a very tight spot between the many tree branches in the area. Mark talked to them and confirmed they were looking for the 75-year-old hypothermia victim. Mark told them we heard he was up at Trail Camp. They said it was getting too dark and they didn't fly at night so they would have to retrieve him in the morning. They also said they would send more Search and Rescue in the morning to help us.

As the evening wore on, several more parties of hikers came through and joined our emergency camp. Everyone pitched in and helped with whatever they had to offer and we began to triage the victims. We determined the 66-year-old was the highest risk so we placed him with someone first. Eventually, we had enough tents, dry sleeping bags and warm bodies to take care of everyone.

Around 11:00 PM the couple with three small children came down the trail. The children did not look good. They looked like zombies and were staring straight forward and not moving much. It actually looked like they were in shock which they probably were. We invited the family to stay at our camp and told them we would make room for them but they refused. They didn't even have a flashlight so a couple of people in our camp offered their lights to them and they continued on. Mark watched as they crossed the stream. Apparently, the man got in the stream and helped the woman across leaving the children on the bank. Once she was on the other side of the stream, he basically threw the children to her one by one. Mark said it was a pretty scary scene. Luckily, they all made it on the other side and continued down the trail. That was the last we saw of them. I sure hope those kids survived. When we got to the portal parking lot, the sheriff was asking questions about the couple. Apparently, their rental car was still in the parking lot. Not a good sign. frown

After the family crossed, Mark checked the water again and said it had receded somewhat but it was still moving too quickly and was not safe for crossing. He didn't recommend we try anything until the morning.

By Saturday morning we were all still alive, in much better shape and in much better spirits. We got our group together and headed down the trail again. The stream crossing was very easy as the water had receded to near pre-storm levels. We did encounter some severe trail damage on the way to Outpost. We arrived to find our camp had been completely flooded. Thankfully, someone from a nearby camp had moved our tents out of the flood waters so we had only minimal water and mud in our tents and sleeping bags. We were told that some other stranded hikers had used some of our tents and sleeping bags the night before. I am glad they were able to help someone else especially since so many people had pitched in to help us.

The Search and Rescue helicopters arrived shortly after we got to camp. It was impressive to see how many people they had on the ground and how quickly they deployed. They swiftly interviewed everyone on the ground and began investigating a couple of unclaimed tents and packs. They offered us any assistance needed including some PB&J sandwiches which my son appreciated.

The hike back was pretty much uneventful. We were tired and it was a long hike to the portal. Unfortunately, we had to wade through water because a log crossing just below Outpost had been destroyed. Consequently, my feet were in pretty bad shape by the time I reached the portal parking lot but I was happy to be off the mountain.

I would like to thank everyone who helped at our emergency camp. It was nice to see so many people band together and help each other. There is no doubt these people's compassion and generosity avoided serious injury or even death for several hikers including my young son. Also, a big thank you to Search and Rescue. These people regularly risk their own safety for others. I found them to be helpful, kind and professional.


Lessons learned:

1) Get an accurate weather report before a hike of this length/difficulty.
2) Always carry light jackets no matter what the weather is supposed to be. Things can change very quickly and it is a long way out.
3) Wear a material that dries quickly. Cotton is comfortable but it stays wet a long time.
4) No more matches. Lighters only from now on.
5) First Aid kits and space blankets are not optional even for a day hike.
6) If possible, carry a tent - even for a day hike.
7) On a lighter note, only 100% Deet repels the mosquitoes on Whitney. Take some! These things were biting me through my clothes including wool socks and liners!

Mike

Top
#16943 - 07/31/11 07:54 PM Re: Harrowing Day Trip 7/29/11 [Re: BigPines]
Akichow Offline


Registered: 04/07/10
Posts: 659
Loc: SF Bay Area
Wow, amazing story and experience. So moving how folks pulled together to help each other out. I'm glad that what could have been a thoroughly horrible experience had some positive moments, and some learning experiences (both for you and and the rest of us who are reading these).

Top
#16948 - 08/01/11 12:04 AM Re: Harrowing Day Trip 7/29/11 [Re: Akichow]
Dennis68 Offline


Registered: 04/11/11
Posts: 10
Loc: CA
Quote:
Once she was on the other side of the stream, he basically threw the children to her one by one. Mark said it was a pretty scary scene. Luckily, they all made it on the other side and continued down the trail. That was the last we saw of them. I sure hope those kids survived.


This make me sick to my stomach and pissed off. What the hell were they thinking endangering their children like that!!!! Any news if they are all OK?

Thanks for posting the report and I'm happy everyone is safe and sound.


Edited by Dennis68 (08/01/11 12:14 AM)

Top
#16950 - 08/01/11 05:00 AM Re: Harrowing Day Trip 7/29/11 [Re: BigPines]
jhiker Offline


Registered: 07/30/11
Posts: 6
Loc: Reno Nevada
Mike..Thank you for sharing your experience. It sounds like you weathered it with grace and courage. I am heartened by all the accounts of hikers coming together to help one another and I am glad to hear you and your party are all ok.

Top
#16951 - 08/01/11 06:26 AM Re: Harrowing Day Trip 7/29/11 [Re: frediver]
+ @ti2d Offline


Registered: 10/22/09
Posts: 830
Loc: Oh Cursed, USA
It is called panic...

I am not going to argue if calling 911 was warranted in this situation.

Either in the desert or in the mountains when it rains prepare for flash floods...

Stay out of ravines and gulleys.

When it rains, it pours...
_________________________
Have fun and enjoy the Gr8 Yd Opn.

Top
#16955 - 08/01/11 07:45 AM Re: Harrowing Day Trip 7/29/11 [Re: Dennis68]
Jrod8 Offline


Registered: 02/27/11
Posts: 24
Loc: California
Agree

Just wondering..and maybe someone can clear this up for me but what are the rules/guidelines for taking children up this mountain?

I don't remember filling out any ages or even the names of members of my party on my application when listing my group size, dates, etc...

Is there an age limit? Do they just have to be accompanied by an adult? It seems as if there should be some type of safeguard in place by the permit office to avoid situations similar to what we are reading in these reports.

I was on that mountain one week ago in absolutely perfect conditions and still would not at all have been comfortable having my little ones around...just too much could go wrong up there and that's just my opinion and I know everybody's got one...just concerned here.

Please post any news/updates on these kids..thanks


Edited by Jrod8 (08/01/11 08:00 AM)

Top
#16957 - 08/01/11 07:55 AM Re: Harrowing Day Trip 7/29/11 [Re: + @ti2d]
CaT Offline


Registered: 09/24/09
Posts: 694
Loc: Blacklick, OH (formerly SoCal)
Sounds like I finished my almost-week of hiking in the Whitney area this past week just in the nick of time. I had planned a summit attempt for Thursday, 7/28 (to begin at midnight, since it was so hot during the day -- I usually hike in the area in late August/early September, not July); but intense smoke, just a few hours before my midnight start time the evening before (from the Lion's fire to the south of Whitney) ended up intervening, and I bowed out of my summit attempt in the interest of not inhaling copious amounts of smoke while also sucking air (still acclimating from Ohio).

CaT
_________________________
If future generations are to remember us with gratitude rather than contempt, we must leave them more than the miracle of technology. We must leave them a glimpse of the world as it was in the beginning, not just after we got through with it.
- Lyndon Johnson, on signing the Wilderness Act into law (1964)

Top
#16959 - 08/01/11 08:08 AM Re: Harrowing Day Trip 7/29/11 [Re: Jrod8]
Rod Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 660
Loc: Santa Clarita, Ca. USA
Thanks Mike for posting your frightening account.I am so encouraged by the community coming together to take care of each other and provide safty for each other.This was truly an over used word "Epic" and one in a lifetime experience. Thank God everyone in your "group" survived by pulling together.I wonder if anyone has any info on that family with small children.I thought I read that everyone was accounted for but I don't know for sure.

Top
#16961 - 08/01/11 08:19 AM Re: Harrowing Day Trip 7/29/11 [Re: CaT]
Bulldog34 Offline


Registered: 11/12/09
Posts: 1254
Loc: Atlanta
CaT, we just missed each other - we left on Sunday the 24th. Laura told us that Saturday night that you had left a note on the TOF's windshield at the Meysan Lakes trailhead. Was hoping to catch you at the Portal, but it was not to be. Sorry we missed you, and that sucks about shelving Whitney!

Re this dialogue about kids on the mountain. I don't recall ever reading or hearing anything that specifically forbids children under a certain age from being on the trail. There is plenty of cautionary advice in the materials they send you and hand out, but it appears it's left up to the parents to make a judgement call.

Unfortunately, that depends heavily on experience, common sense and danger-assessment abilities. We began introducing our daughter to very mild hiking at the age of 5, and progressed steadily with more challenging hikes in the Rockies, Cascades, and Sierra over the next few years. It wasn't till this year, at age 11, that she made a concerted attempt on Whitney - but only after I had seen how she fared on 13,000-foot Mt. Dana a few days earlier..

I have no doubts she would have summitted a couple of weeks ago if I had not called it off about a mile from the summit due to her pace slowing down after Trail Crest. She still had enough left in the tank, in my opinion, to get to the summit and back to Consultation Lake, but the day was getting away from us. We still had a tricky traverse over the snow chute to negotiate on the way back, and I wanted her with all of her faculties in place to avoid an overly-tired, 1600-foot mistake. I chose to err on the side of caution. She was POed and disappointed - pointing to the summit hut and saying, "It's right THERE dad!" - but that had faded away by the time we got back to camp. No regrets on my part.

Personally, I have a hard time seeing kids much younger than 8 or 9 attempting to go past Trail Camp. There are undoubtedly exceptions, like the 7 year-old who just summitted last week, but generally speaking many kids I've seen high on the trail the past 3 years have not looked like (1) they feel well, or (2) they are having any fun. Five year-olds hiking to Lone Pine Lake or Bighorn Park? Sure, if they can handle it. Taking a 10 month-old infant to the summit in a backpack carrier (like we saw a couple of weeks ago)? Insane and irresponsible. The kid can't tell you he/she has AMS till they're puking over your head, and by then it could be well-advanced. As a parent, I just don't get it.

Top
#16962 - 08/01/11 08:32 AM Re: Harrowing Day Trip 7/29/11 [Re: Bulldog34]
bakogwtw Offline


Registered: 07/31/11
Posts: 4
Loc: Bakersfield, CA
My boyfriend and I spent Friday night at Trail Camp and hiked out Saturday morning...we did hear that a family with a kid made it out safe. Also, the only incident we've heard of so far is an older gentleman with hypothermia. But not sure if everyone is accounted for yet...

Top
Page 2 of 4 < 1 2 3 4 >