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#26014 - 07/16/12 07:05 PM I just don't get it...
MooseTracks Offline


Registered: 11/02/09
Posts: 582
Loc: Bishop, CA, United States
Steve and I have had conversations regarding how to efficiently educate the masses: what information to provide, what links, how to get it out there using this board and others...

Is there just too much information available? Do the general masses just make assumptions? (well of course they do...) Is the information to dispersed? How do we consolidate it?

How do we get people to pay attention to what they're doing???

This situation this past weekend has me really riled up, folks...
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#26016 - 07/16/12 08:30 PM Re: I just don't get it... [Re: MooseTracks]
Akichow Offline


Registered: 04/07/10
Posts: 659
Loc: SF Bay Area
These boards are, I suspect, a huge success in terms of information-sharing and accident-prevention. But first, a caveat.

Every time I have been on Whitney, I've seen stupid things. Well, this last time, it was what a friend described to me that he saw (not me) just below the summit plateau that took the cake for this trip -- from his description, a guy helping another guy with a staggering ataxic walk (potential HACE, anyone?) climb higher toward the summit.

But I think the message and information does get through, or you'd see even more stupidity. A lot of first timers come here and ask questions and then plan, and do it right. I count myself (2010) among them. So if you count success in terms of stupidity avoided, then I suspect that these bulletin boards and resources are a huge success.

Yes, I realize some folks will point out that there is also mis-information on the internet, and here. But, overall, this site and the other site have a wealth of good information and advice, and I know that has made the difference for me.

Now, someone please tell me, because I still look for advice here: if I want to climb Mt. Langley AND visit Miter Basin, what is my best route, and how many days should I take? smile

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#26017 - 07/16/12 08:38 PM Re: I just don't get it... [Re: MooseTracks]
2600fromatari Offline


Registered: 10/18/10
Posts: 452
Loc: San Diego
This board has some of the best information available on the Internet. The "Reference" forum and permit information link provides just about everything that everyone needs to know about the region whether they're heading up the MT or the MR, and touches on important topics like HACE/HAPE.

Unfortunately, the problem is that not everyone takes the time to educate themselves prior to heading up there nor realize the repercussions. Since someone they knew did it before and telling tall tales, how hard can it be? Hate to admit it, but I was one of those folks. I was told and practically begged by an experienced friend to educate myself more about HACE/HAPE before I went by myself. I read what she sent, but having never been to high altitude before, I didn't take it seriously. Didn't acclimate, just went up from Lone Pine. It took a full blown case of AMS with me stumbling and crawling back towards Trail Crest, and almost giving in to the sweet temptation to simple lay down and sleep, but then I KNEW and UNDERSTOOD what the fuss is really all about.

Some lessons are hard learned.

That being said, I think a "cheat sheet" prominently displayed on the forums would help. A condensed version of all that's available that hits the most important points with links to the possible repercussions. First hand stories found on here have a lot more impact than some medical article. There was a TR from some marathon runners who got slammed and taken in for HACE or HAPE would be more poignant. The SJ board has a "guide" for the C2C hike. Something similar here without the quiz?
http://www.mtsanjacinto.info/skyline/skyline.html

At the end of the day, you can't help someone who doesn't bother. There are people who plan and absorb everything before going out and those who "wing it".

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#26020 - 07/16/12 10:30 PM Re: I just don't get it... [Re: MooseTracks]
tdtz Offline


Registered: 08/26/10
Posts: 511
Loc: CA
Steve and I have had conversations regarding how to efficiently educate the masses: what information to provide, what links, how to get it out there using this board and others...

I think that the location of the information is very important. And where the WZ and WPS are great resources, they are not a catchall. I asked the Dad this weekend if he read any of the boards and he said no.

I personally think that the best way to communicate the information is right at the trailhead. I think they should have a counter that shows how many people have been hospitalized or died for the year to date due to AMS.

It could be something as simple as a chalkboard that says
Hospitalizations due to AMS, 2012 YTD - 42
Deaths due to AMS, 2012 YTD - 2

And then have the important information (avoidance, symptoms, what to do if) printed below. With the warning in a large font: Altitude Sickness can Kill You

I think that blunt information is best:
-If you have a pounding headache at 10,000' and you take an aspirin, it will not cure altitude sickness. It will mask symptoms and put your life in peril at a higher elevation
-If you are sick at 12,000', it doesn't matter how tough or physically fit you are, pushing through the pain and going to a higher elevation can cause HACE or HAPE which can kill you.
-If you feel sick on the trail, assume it is altitude sickness and descend to a lower elevation.

I think that anybody who reads the WZ or WPS for a week will probably be at far less risk than others who do not read these boards. There is no way to quantify how many incidents have been avoided through the information that is available here. But we are a small percentage of the people who actually go up whitney. Steve could probably give an idea of how many unique visitors this site has per day. My bet is that it is far fewer than the number of permits that are issued every day.

I think that a one minute talk about AMS at the interagency office is just as important as the wag bag and bear canister talk. But then again, maybe that's not their charter.

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#26022 - 07/16/12 11:16 PM Re: I just don't get it... [Re: MooseTracks]
Ken Offline


Registered: 10/29/09
Posts: 742
Loc: Los Angeles
Originally Posted By: MooseTracks
Steve and I have had conversations regarding how to efficiently educate the masses: what information to provide, what links, how to get it out there using this board and others...

Is there just too much information available? Do the general masses just make assumptions? (well of course they do...) Is the information to dispersed? How do we consolidate it?

How do we get people to pay attention to what they're doing???

This situation this past weekend has me really riled up, folks...


Laura, I remain as mystified as you.

As I've mentioned to Steve, when I give talks about Whitney at A16, I specifically have two slides at the beginnning, and at the end, that list this website. I specifically mention that it is the most important thing that they will hear, and I constantly refer to it during the talk. My impression is that knowledge of the websites is news to about 90% of attendees, and I'd imagine that is true for the general group of people pondering the climb.

The ONLY additional thing I can think of, is a collaborative association with the USFS, where they list this website on the application.

A more sophisticated version would use a quiz-type of system (which I personally like), like the C2C.

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#26025 - 07/17/12 12:43 AM Re: I just don't get it... [Re: Ken]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7445
Loc: Fresno, CA
First of all, I am not the owner of this site. It belongs to the Mt Whitney Hikers Association, and everyone participating here and adding valuable information is a contributing member (whether paying $ or not). I would really appreciate any help anyone can give (so sorry Versatile Fred has moved on), and will gladly make use of any and all text someone can put together if they want to work on a "The Most Important Information" page. It would be good to have such a page, and link to it in several prominent places.

Unfortunately Ken's experience, where 90% of his audience at the Mt Whitney talks have not heard of either wps or WhitneyZone. I have often estimated that only 20% of Whitney hikers ever visits either site.

However, people who don't ever register, DO read the Orientation Notes and the Whitney Permit info. If you click the "Who's Online" link below the Feature Topics and Shout Box on the left, you can actually see the topics people are reading. (Check it out... you can see what the anonymous are reading.)

Several years ago, Inyo had a page posted at the trail head that read, "People Die Here!" with some important information. I think it was a good idea, and they should put it up every year.

Inyo National Forest does in fact refer to WhitneyZone on their Hiking the Mt. Whitney Trail document (accessible from the Recreation Passes & Permits page). Right in the middle of the first page:
Quote:
The websites below offer trip planning
advice, provide links to area services, or
host discussion forums. The Forest Service
cannot vouch for forum contents.
  www.sierraelevation.com
  www.supertopo.com
  www.whitneyportalstore.com
  www.whitneyzone.com
Unfortunately, they are not links on the Inyo page, and the disclaimer pretty well discourages people from visiting.

The idea of an information page, and a quiz following really isn't that bad. (This blends into the arguments on how many to allow into the wilderness, with the idea that educating people first might be good.) There are online courses people can take: Traffic School comes to mind. My employer requires a Sexual Harassment Training course. It could be a requirement that people take a short online course and pass a test before they can get a permit. Taking the course once every 3 to 5 years could be a requirement.

That is only one idea. I am sure there are others. Educating people would save lives.

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#26027 - 07/17/12 04:24 AM Re: I just don't get it... [Re: MooseTracks]
Bulldog34 Offline


Registered: 11/12/09
Posts: 1254
Loc: Atlanta
Sadly, Laura, you might as well ask why people consistently do other stupid things that place themselves and others in danger when they know better (texting and driving comes to mind). Even with heightened education on the dangers of AMS, a significant percentage of people will always adopt a "can't/won't happen to me or mine" attitude.

The frustrating thing to me is that so many of these incidents involve kids, many too young to really understand what altitude sickness is all about. Last year on Whitney I was shocked at how many children were descending with AMS symptoms, including one notorious case where the parents sent their child back down to Trail Camp with complete strangers while they continued to the summit. There are your Parents of the Year Award candidates . . .

I recall running into Brent N on the trail last year with his family, not far below the Windows. His son (12, I believe) was beginning to develop symptoms about a mile or so from the summit. There was no hesitation in Brent's mind - screw the summit and descend. No question about it. I felt badly for them, missing the summit with so little distance to go, but he made absolutely the right decision.

Less than 30 minutes later I had to make the same decision for the well-being of my 11 YO daughter, Bri, who really began to flag at 14,000 feet. No observable AMS symptoms, just moving really slow. Her diminished pace would have pushed our return over the snow chute at Trail Crest into a time of the day where icing became a concern. We talked it over with Ranger Rob (Crabtree) and decided discretion was the better part of valor. With the summit hut in sight, we turned around. Bri insisted she could go on, and was devastated by the decision my wife and I made to pull a 180 and return to Consultation Lake, but as parents the top priority has to be your child's welfare. Could Bri have made the last mile to the summit and returned safely over a somewhat icy snow chute without spikes? Very likely, but we weren't going to risk it.

People will continue to do stupid things in the mountains, but when you bring children along for a hike like Whitney it is incumbent on the parents to be educated and watchful. Unfortunately, there's no effective way to mandate that responsibility currently. Maybe Inyo should determine if any children are in a group when permits are issued, and if so place the group leader through a required uber-orientation.

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#26028 - 07/17/12 05:11 AM Re: I just don't get it... [Re: Bulldog34]
1982jeep Offline


Registered: 01/22/12
Posts: 41
Loc: southern California
I agree with everyone's assessment. Laura's idea of a board posting precise information at the trailhead is a very good idea. There should also be a pamphlet or information board required reading when you pick up your permits. Similar to when you board a plane you always need to listen to the flight attendant speak about oxygen, floation devices, etc.
However having said that, I am an ER nurse and I must say there are two rules to ER medicine. 1. Stupid hurts. 2. I can't fix stupid. In life we wind up managing 20% of the people 80% of the time. Sad but true. All we can hope to do is provide 80% of the people with as much information as possible. Then pray for a good outcome on the 20% who chose not to be informed.
I look forward to reading everything everyone has to say on this board because I learn something new every day. However I am part of the 80% population. I research until there is no more information to learn then move forward. Well that is my $0.20 worth.
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#26029 - 07/17/12 08:04 AM Re: I just don't get it... [Re: MooseTracks]
wbtravis Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1249
Loc: Corner of Jack Benny and Roche...
I have found over the years people are going to do what they want to do. All you can to is give the tools to make the right decisions and move on.

During the winter in SoCal, I regularly ask people trekking poles and/or Microspike on high angle icy slopes how are they going to arrest a fall. The response is a uniform...I AM NOT GOING TO FALL!

This attitude is prevalent on MMWT and like the winter in SoCal people rarely get hurt doing stupid things. However, when the do it is on the 11 PM news.

Back in 2006, there were signs on the patio cover and at the wilderness line, "PEOPLE DIE HERE" in big red letters. Those signs were taken down, in my mind, because they did not fit the Chamber of Commerce narrative of everything is going to be ok. Don't worry, be happy.

You can put all the signs up you want and they will be ignored...unfortunately.

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#26036 - 07/17/12 07:14 PM Re: I just don't get it... [Re: MooseTracks]
smithb Offline


Registered: 10/04/10
Posts: 80
Loc: ventura county, ca
Originally Posted By: MooseTracks
How do we get people to pay attention to what they're doing???

wikipedia has this photo and caption under the 'altitude sickness' heading:



"This sign near the peak of Mount Evans (elev. 14264 ft or 4,350 meters) in Colorado, USA, warns of altitude sickness symptoms."

when i'm king, i'll post it lower down the hill where i think it might do more good. wink

but it illustrates it is possible to have a sign.

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#26038 - 07/17/12 07:18 PM Re: I just don't get it... [Re: smithb]
smithb Offline


Registered: 10/04/10
Posts: 80
Loc: ventura county, ca
and at kilimanjaro:


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#26040 - 07/17/12 08:03 PM Re: I just don't get it... [Re: smithb]
Akichow Offline


Registered: 04/07/10
Posts: 659
Loc: SF Bay Area
Speaking of signs, and their effectiveness, here's a sign from Whitney! It addresses a different hazard, and it is pretty uncompromising in its language. And yet how many times do we read about people continuing on to the summit, despite dark clouds in the vicinity and the presence of thunder? Though I wouldn't advocate removing the sign ... if it helps a few people to make better decisions, that is some good accomplished.

I don't really think signs on the trail or at the trailhead are particularly effective as to issues that seem remote at the time that they are read (as distinct from signs that warn of an immediate, concrete, danger, like "WARNING: MAN-EATING MOUNTAIN LION AHEAD 10 FEET ON THE RIGHT!"). Notwithstanding signs about altitude sickness on Kili, I saw even more stupdity on Kili than I usually do on Whitney (perhaps because of the great investment required to get there). And that's not counting the the doctor with asthma and an active cough who dexamathasoned himself up to the summit over the course of 8 days ... a doctor who I otherwise found to be wise, kind, and generous with his knowledge.



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#26042 - 07/17/12 10:03 PM Re: I just don't get it... [Re: MooseTracks]
JAGCHiker Offline


Registered: 11/13/11
Posts: 45
Loc: GC
At Grand Canyon; where the most people go into the canyon at the worst time of the year (June-Aug); resulting in 12 people dying a year, on the average; the volunteer and seasonal Ranger PREVENTIVE SEARCH AND RESCUE staff have worked wonders. PSAR personnel are stationed a places like trail camp, trail crest, summit; to interact with hikers. They educate and discuss conditions with the hikers itinerary; and hopefully the hiker can make a better educated decision on their hike.
Staff at these strategic locations on the trails also provide quicker emergency response when the environment overcomes the hikers knowledge and abilities.
The program has significantly reduced the number of heat issues turning into life threatening issues; and is being copied at other parks now.
Volunteers come from all over. Some are local hikers. Some come from S. AZ. Some have S&R experience. Some doctors spend 2 weeks of vacation to come from the East Coast and do several PSAR hikes. They all want to help hikers enjoy themselves and not be casulties.
The forest service and NPS could start something similiar- cause you can't fix stupid; and we know more and more ill prepared people go to these places; due to SPOTS, GPS, Backpacker Magazine,etc.

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#26055 - 07/18/12 01:51 PM Re: I just don't get it... [Re: MooseTracks]
Bob West Offline


Registered: 11/13/09
Posts: 825
Loc: Bishop, CA, USA
A CHP officer told me that many drivers on our highways are "passive and unaware." They exceed the speed limit and tail-gate, in spite of being tired and sleepy, not realizing the danger they are in. Many high altitude hikers go beyond their capabilites, but continue going up, passively ignoring or just unaware of the warnings they are receiving from their bodies.

The Inyo National Forest really needs to step up it's education regarding high altitude medical problems; so far, I've seen very little, if any, effort from them in this regard. I like the idea of having big warning signs at the trail heads of ALL high altitude hikes, not just Whitney. The Mt. Whitney trail head, in particular, needs to have a ranger or an official volunteer posted there, to pass out cautionary information and answer questions.

Last week, on the Bishop Pass trail, I was stopped by a middle-aged couple about 1/4 mile up the trail from South Lake. The lady was over-weight and beginning to struggle in the effort to walk up the trail. They asked me if I thought it was advisable for her to continue, and I said, "No! You should not continue." Thankfully, they did stop and return to their car, much happier than they would have been otherwise.

Experienced hikers can help others who appear to be over-their-heads. It doesn't take much effort to ask, "Hi, how are you doing?" Most people (except perhaps extreme type-A, macho-man personalities) will admit when they are struggling. Then, we can offer advice and/or assistance, for which most people will welcome and heed. In the mountains (and perhaps elsewhere) the answer to the question, "Am I my brother's keeper?" ought to be a resounding YES! To anyone who might answer NO to that question, or who has the "It's none of my business" attitude, I say, "Stay away from me in the mountains..."

In absence of more aggresive efforts on the part of our Forest Service, the rest of us need to keep our eyes open and help when help is needed...and maybe delay our own summit goals for another time.





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#26056 - 07/18/12 06:03 PM Re: I just don't get it... [Re: Akichow]
wbtravis Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1249
Loc: Corner of Jack Benny and Roche...
Originally Posted By: Akichow
"WARNING: MAN-EATING MOUNTAIN LION AHEAD 10 FEET ON THE RIGHT!").


On Mt. Baden-Powell a few Decembers ago, I was at about 8,200' and had just transitioned from the north to east side of the mountain when I saw a big pussy cat at about 150' up the trail. Being by myself, I retreated slowly. Always looking up slope just in case kitty wanted me for a Happy Meal.

About one switchback down a solo hiker asked what the snow level. I told there was a cat up ahead and he repeated the question; I repeated the answer and he just kept going up.

The sign will not work...unfortunately.

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#26057 - 07/18/12 07:01 PM Re: I just don't get it... [Re: wbtravis]
Akichow Offline


Registered: 04/07/10
Posts: 659
Loc: SF Bay Area
But were you SPEAKING IN ALL CAPS at the time?

Joking!

(I agree with you. I think signs are overused and often ineffectual.)



Edited by Akichow (07/18/12 08:30 PM)
Edit Reason: fixin' typos

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#26061 - 07/18/12 07:40 PM Re: I just don't get it... [Re: Akichow]
wagga Offline


Registered: 10/07/09
Posts: 2234
Loc: Humbug Reach (Pop. 3)
The genesis of this forum was that the collected wisdom of Versatile Fred and others was removed from another site.

So this forum is biased towards collecting/disseminating information as a resource. And we are good at it. I think our Mission Statement is "How Not To Die On Whitney"

An example: Some weeks ago somebody queried the state of the switchbacks - inside a few minutes someone posted a day-old picture of the exact area.

And don't forget the webcam. That's realtime information.

However, if you remember the three fall-divers at Emerald Pool disregarding the signs, then you come to the conclusion that you can't fix stupid.

However, if by some combination of luck & skill, those three had survived, I'm fairly sure they would be teaching noobs to read and obey the signs...
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Verum audaces non gerunt indusia alba. - Ipsi dixit MCMLXXII

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#26074 - 07/19/12 08:32 AM Re: I just don't get it... [Re: wagga]
wbtravis Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1249
Loc: Corner of Jack Benny and Roche...
Wagga,

99.9999% of people survive their stupidity. The problem lies in the survival. Because they survived they become delusional...they did it right and they teach people to do it the same way. Unfortunately, I see it all the time, especially in the winter.

It manifests itself when the survivor teach folks how to go up a high angle icy slope with Microspikes and trekking poles or someone takes pride in completing the 22-miles of a Mt. Whitney day hike on less than two liters of water...then they tell the known universe they can do it, too.

The biggest problem with the other board is you could not criticize the various stupid things that transpired on MMWT. If you can't have back and forth you can't learn.

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#26075 - 07/19/12 08:36 AM Re: I just don't get it... [Re: wagga]
SierraNevada Offline


Registered: 09/05/11
Posts: 1125
Loc: NorCal
It's the people on the ends of the Bell curve that make it seem futile. They make the news and cause overreactions. When a large number of people are involved (17,000 per season on Whitney), the number of "outliers" gets significant.

Risk information is for the majority of people who care and are able to grasp it. If they seek that information, it's waiting for them. The permit Rangers should be providing basic info to those who didn't do their homework, with handouts for details.

I'm not a fan of long signs warning of everything. Better to have short simple warnings and a way to get more info. The most effective sign I ever saw was hand written at a dangerous beach on the Na Pali trail in Kauai. It was a list of the people who died, when, and where they were from.

There's no reaching people who think they know it all or those who can barely tie shoelaces. Common sense is not all that common.



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#26077 - 07/19/12 10:54 AM Re: I just don't get it... [Re: SierraNevada]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7445
Loc: Fresno, CA
I got an interesting opinion from a friend recently. He said by providing so much information for people, it removes the sense of discovery and pioneering. By providing so much for them here, their trip becomes less of an adventure.

That opinion parallels Doug's view from the other board when we split, that people should log in and ask questions. He did not want people just visiting, reading what they needed, and leaving without participating. And he wanted the newbies answering more of the questions.

So this association and our message board runs with the opposite intent: Provide as much information as possible to anyone and everyone who comes looking, to help them learn "How Not To Die On Whitney"

Whether they register or not does not matter. I like Bob West's words, "...the answer to the question, 'Am I my brother's keeper?' ought to be a resounding YES!"

By contributing here, everyone who posts provides helpful information so those who want can come and find it. For those who don't come looking... well, they are the ones looking for that pioneering adventure.

Life for pioneers was (and still is) sometimes unlucky.

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