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#37601 - 06/18/14 03:44 PM Re: Missing Whitney Hiker [Re: 2Old4This]
Snacking Bear Offline


Registered: 08/09/11
Posts: 461
Loc: Saugus, CA
Originally Posted By: 2Old4This

The big lesson for me, is if you are hiking in a group stay in a group.


I wholeheartedly agree.
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#37602 - 06/18/14 04:02 PM Re: Missing Whitney Hiker [Re: Snacking Bear]
63ChevyII.com Offline


Registered: 08/07/12
Posts: 670
Loc: Colton, California
I've been checking this thread every couple of hours hoping that Mr. Likely has been found alive and well. I can't imagine what his friends and family are going through.



Originally Posted By: Snacking Bear
I wholeheartedly agree.


I tend to agree too, with a caveat. On most of my hikes, I like to spend some time by myself. Mt. Whitney is different though - being able to keep an eye of friends is more important than 'alone time,' but on my monthly training hikes, I tend to separate myself from the group, even it is just a brief period of time.

I wonder if Mr. Likely is similar and if it is part of the reason why he was left alone?
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#37603 - 06/18/14 04:12 PM Re: Missing Whitney Hiker [Re: 63ChevyII.com]
Bulldog34 Offline


Registered: 11/12/09
Posts: 1254
Loc: Atlanta
Originally Posted By: 63ChevyII.com
Here's a google earth screenshot of the area:


That's a great visual, Chevy. The area Akichow and I are commenting on is not quite halfway up the slope. If you're descending, you can see that you're hiking in pretty much a straight line for a while, then you have two sharp lefts clustered in the slabs, one a classic hairpin. Miss one of those and things can get dicey pretty quickly. Add in possible darkness, exhaustion, confusion and/or AMS, and it's not that hard for someone to walk right off the edge. Wouldn't be the first time.

What is mystifying to me is that it's now been 4 full days and no results reported from the search. The mountain traffic is summerishly steady and it's only 2 miles from TC to OC. The only other area I can think of in that stretch that might present a danger where someone could disappear - at least reasonably close to the trail - would be the ledges above Consultation Lake. Plenty of opportunity there, but that would take some pretty deliberate off-trail effort.

Wish we had a better idea of his mental and physical state, and what supplies he had with him, but we just don't know because, as has been pointed out repeatedly, he was alone when he probably shouldn't have been. I keep thinking of the "I Shouldn't Be Alive" episode where a solo backpacker in the Sierra wandered off-trail and fell onto a ledge, where he survived for a number of days before being rescued. We can only hope this guy is as lucky.

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#37605 - 06/18/14 04:20 PM Re: Missing Whitney Hiker [Re: Bulldog34]
Snacking Bear Offline


Registered: 08/09/11
Posts: 461
Loc: Saugus, CA
Originally Posted By: Bulldog34
The only other area I can think of in that stretch that might present a danger where someone could disappear - at least reasonably close to the trail - would be the ledges above Consultation Lake. Plenty of opportunity there, but that would take some pretty deliberate off-trail effort.lucky.


I've also thought as much.
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#37606 - 06/18/14 04:25 PM Re: Missing Whitney Hiker [Re: Bulldog34]
Harvey Lankford Offline


Registered: 11/10/09
Posts: 999
Loc: Richmond, Virginia
You would think dogs (if being used) might have found him by now. This brings up (the long shot) that he actually made it down unnoticed and kept going.

I am sorry about this situation, but after this much time that possibility seems like the most likely (only?) good scenario. Injury, illness, and after 4 days dehydration are taking their toll.

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#37607 - 06/18/14 04:25 PM Re: Missing Whitney Hiker [Re: Bulldog34]
Joe the Hiker Offline


Registered: 05/26/14
Posts: 32
Loc: SC
The fact that he was supposed to come back to outpost camp and that his friends were waiting for him there and I unknowingly was sleeping at outpost that night really shakes me up to think about it.

I knew it was getting below freezing the nights I was there, and that there were some strong winds, but this article says in some spots winds have reached 60mph and temps have gone down into the teens...
[url=http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-search-for-mt-whitney-update-20140618-story.html][/url]

My prayers go out to him, his family, and all those searching for him.

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#37610 - 06/18/14 04:45 PM Re: Missing Whitney Hiker [Re: Harvey Lankford]
Bulldog34 Offline


Registered: 11/12/09
Posts: 1254
Loc: Atlanta
Harvey, I read earlier today that CLMRG has also been involved in the search since the 16th. That's three SAR orgs working together with, apparently, no results. And you would think dogs were in the equation by at least day two. Assuming Mr. Likely only had the usual dayhike suspects in his pack, I have to agree that a good outcome is getting pretty remote - especially with the weather conditions that I've been reading about. Inyo, Mono and China Lake know this area extremely well. Four days seems like an eternity for a search along roughly 2 miles of trail environs with 3 highly capable outfits.

OK, after Steve's update below, make that a boatload of SAR units. No lack of effort here. I really don't like hearing "shorts" and "small backpack", however.


Edited by Bulldog34 (06/18/14 04:55 PM)
Edit Reason: Steve's SAR update below

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#37611 - 06/18/14 04:47 PM Re: Missing Whitney Hiker [Re: Joe the Hiker]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7392
Loc: Fresno, CA
The Inyo County Sheriff's Office website is posting daily updates here:
Media & Press Releases
  June 16,2014
  June 17, 2014
  June 18, 2014
  June 19, 2014


Today's:
Quote:
June 18, 2014
Contact: Carma Roper, PIO
(760) 878-0395

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Whitney SAR John Likely, UPDATE

Since the afternoon of Sunday June 15th, 2014 search teams have scoured the rugged backcountry terrain in the Mt. Whitney area looking for missing hiker John Likely, a 60-year old man from Dumont, NJ. At least 70 Search and Rescue team members from throughout the state of California have been assisting. The Sierra crest and surrounding areas have been flown and analyzed by aerial reconnaissance experts. Today, strong winds coupled with the Shirley Fire that is west of Lake Isabella, CA have created some visibility issues for aerial support.

"We are still treating this mission as a rescue versus a recovery," stated Inyo County Assistant Search and Rescue Coordinator Brian Hohenstein. "The High Sierra backcountry presents search teams with significant challenges, but we are fortunate to have Search and Rescue support from experts throughout the State."

According to information received, John Likely was last seen near the cable rails on the 99-switchback section of the decent from Mt. Whitney. Likely is reported to be wearing a red San Francisco 49ers ball cap, a black jacket, dark colored shorts and a small backpack, he has gray hair and no facial hair.

Support for today's search is provided by Inyo Search and Rescue, China Lake Mountain Rescue Group, Sierra Madre Search and Rescue, Antelope Valley Search and Rescue, Marin County Search and Rescue, Contra Costa County Search and Rescue, Monterey County Search and Rescue, San Mateo County Search and Rescue, Orange County Search and Rescue, and San Diego County Search and Rescue. Air support today is provided by Sequoia-Kings National Park, and Army National Guard out of Stockton, CA.

The Sheriff's Office is asking for any information from hikers who may have seen John Likely. Please call Sheriff's Dispatch at 760-878-0383 if you have any information that could assist in this search.


Edited by Steve C (06/19/14 09:33 AM)

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#37613 - 06/18/14 06:20 PM Re: Missing Whitney Hiker [Re: Steve C]
saltydog Offline


Registered: 02/03/11
Posts: 1553
Loc: Valley Ford CA!!!!
Nearly 4 full days, with 70 pairs of boots on the ground and at least one chopper in the air. If memory serves, that's lot more resources, over twice as much time, with a lot better beta than in the Shyam Das case two years ago.*

Its making me think again about how comfortable and familiar I have grown to feel about this piece of landscape. I haven't done the math, but the area of highest probability here can't be more than a very few square miles: Trail Camp to Bighorn Park -2.5 miles? - and what, a half mile either side of the trail?

Of course, the lower probability areas are a lot bigger: the whole Lone Pine Creek drainage, at least. Its possible to miss Bighorn park, I guess, descending from Trail Camp, and I suppose its possible to disappear between the cables and TC; there are a lot of possibilities, but its also apparent there there are a lot of places to get hidden in this narrow, well traveled canyon. Here's hoping that someone comes upon the right one soon.

* Before going missing, Das was last seen at Trail Camp and was only considered missing when he didn't show at the Portal. He was found after about 36 hours of intensive search.
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#37616 - 06/18/14 07:42 PM Re: Missing Whitney Hiker [Re: Bob West]
ocmomo Offline


Registered: 06/18/14
Posts: 1
Loc: CA
I've only ever read here, and never posted before. I came on today to get the details, and the latest news on the missing hiker. Of course his safety is the highest concern. I'm compelled, though, to post my personal reaction to what I'm hearing about the circumstances.

About a year ago I was to summit Whitney. A group of us trained together to do so. The day before we were to head out, from discussion we had, I came to realize I could not trust my safety to the others. I told myself that night, under an amazing sky at the portal, that nothing was more important than getting back to my family, that I could only depend on myself. That changed the hike for me. (Kind of as some of you said how you prepare differently, even mentally, for a solo versus a group hike.)

The next day we made it up to Trail Camp to spend the night as planned. Through converging circumstances I made the decision to forgo attempting the summit the next day. I never looked back. Was I disappointed, for sure. But I enjoyed a blissful morning the next day, and an almost exuberant descent. Overall I had an excellent experience - learned a ton - LOVED the scenery, and never doubted my decision. Sadly, the report of this gentleman missing has me feeling even further vindicated.

My best wishes to al involved. Still expecting a good outcome.


Edited by ocmomo (06/18/14 08:37 PM)

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#37618 - 06/18/14 08:16 PM Re: Missing Whitney Hiker [Re: Bulldog34]
Akichow Offline


Registered: 04/07/10
Posts: 659
Loc: SF Bay Area
Bulldog, I am pretty sure we were on the old trail for part of this. Even found some very nice stealth campsites that I suspect Bob R. and some others use. We were ready to backtrack if it didn't turn out right, though. And like I said, it was morning (since we were coming down from Trail Camp after spending the night there) and I had topo.

And yes, that's the trip where we did meet at the Portal!!!

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#37619 - 06/18/14 08:20 PM Re: Missing Whitney Hiker [Re: Bulldog34]
lynn-a-roo Offline


Registered: 08/14/10
Posts: 627
Loc: OrangeCounty
Bulldog, the year the 3 Angels and the Chinaman got lost I am fairly certain the Chinaman headed towards Consultation Lake when he got on the lower section of the switchbacks above Trail camp. There was snow everywhere. I remember the Chinaman not coming all the way down the switchbacks, instead he started traversing across the mountain towards Consultation Lake on the backside of Trail camp. Does this description of the area make any sense to you. I was thinking you could be right, that's where he could be. The last time his friends saw him he was on the switchbacks so it makes sense. I want someone to find him. When I headed to my cozy warm bed last night I thought of him all alone out there somewhere.

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#37620 - 06/18/14 08:36 PM Re: Missing Whitney Hiker [Re: ocmomo]
lynn-a-roo Offline


Registered: 08/14/10
Posts: 627
Loc: OrangeCounty
ocmomo,

You followed what you gut told you and you kept the love of your family in your heart. Good for you, I believe you did the right thing. Besides, maybe some day in the future your gut will tell you to finish your journey to the summit and the mountain will be waiting for you. I may be a wishful thinker but I still believe this missing hiker could still be alive. He looks like a strong, healthy guy who can hold on for a while.

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#37623 - 06/18/14 11:24 PM Re: Missing Whitney Hiker [Re: Bee]
Ken Offline


Registered: 10/29/09
Posts: 742
Loc: Los Angeles
Just to show how much more complicated this could be:

the last report is by his friends seeing him near the cables from Trail Camp. That is a long way, even with binoculars. People often wear clothing that, at a distance, looks the same.
We are depending here upon people who just came down from 14,000+ feet, and may still be affected by oxygen deprivation....which is a true description of their physiologic state.

In this paper, it is pointed out that red visual threshold is much more effected than blue. And personally, I think everyone's clothing looks black at 1/2 mile:

http://www.iovs.org/content/10/5/323.full.pdf

I haven't heard of any "lost hikers" this year down in the Crabtree area (hopefully due to the new signs), but it is certainly in the mix at this point.

I can't fathom his being in the 2.5 mile discussed, with so many experts searching the area.

On the other side of Wotan's throne?

By the way, the hypoxia issue should be taken into account when judging the decisions of his fellow hikers.

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#37625 - 06/19/14 12:16 AM Re: Missing Whitney Hiker [Re: ocmomo]
wagga Offline


Registered: 10/07/09
Posts: 2233
Loc: Humbug Reach (Pop. 3)
Originally Posted By: ocmomo
I've only ever read here, and never posted before.

Welcome aboard.

Remember that not summiting is an excellent excuse to come back to this incredible mountain.
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#37626 - 06/19/14 03:50 AM Re: Missing Whitney Hiker [Re: Ken]
Bulldog34 Offline


Registered: 11/12/09
Posts: 1254
Loc: Atlanta
Originally Posted By: Ken
I can't fathom his being in the 2.5 mile discussed, with so many experts searching the area.


Agreed, Ken. I would expect the entire trail is in play by now, which would expand the possibilities considerably, especially along the crest. Glassing the switchbacks from TC and positively identifying a lone hiker seems optimistic unless you're using a set of very high-quality binocs, which are typically pretty heavy and not often a candidate for a summit pack. You would almost have to assume a lightweight pair of lower magnification glasses. If that was how he was ostensibly last spotted near the cables, I wouldn't put much faith in it. That section of the switchbacks is not easily seen from Trail Camp.

I once spent an hour kicked back by the pond at TC doing exactly this with a set of 7X35 binocs, watching for the rest of my party to descend the switchbacks. I never was able to positively pick them out till they were in the vicinity of the spring, and that was with the benefit of two-way radios.

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#37627 - 06/19/14 05:36 AM Re: Missing Whitney Hiker [Re: Ken]
Harvey Lankford Offline


Registered: 11/10/09
Posts: 999
Loc: Richmond, Virginia
Originally Posted By: Ken
Just to show how much more complicated this could be:

the last report is by his friends seeing him near the cables from Trail Camp. That is a long way, even with binoculars. People often wear clothing that, at a distance, looks the same.
We are depending here upon people who just came down from 14,000+ feet, and may still be affected by oxygen deprivation....which is a true description of their physiologic state.

In this paper, it is pointed out that red visual threshold is much more effected than blue. And personally, I think everyone's clothing looks black at 1/2 mile:

http://www.iovs.org/content/10/5/323.full.pdf


Ken is absolutely right about the possibility of miss-identification of the color of clothing.

Sorry to take off on a physiological journey here, but we are all waiting for news.

Here goes: The FAA suggests (not requires) that general aviation (non-pressurized) aircraft pilots use O2 at night above 5,000 ft (yes, only 5,000) because the retina begins to lose some color vision and depth perception. On a personal note: I was once at an 18,000 ft camp on the Mera Glacier, playing cards in the tent. One of the guys suddenly blurted out, "Hey, there are no red cards!" Indeed, everything looked a shade of gray. None of us had noticed this, even myself who knew about it. Ken's point is that lower oxygen pressure of altitude affects brains and perception in many ways, both the lost hiker, and his presumably normal group. This is not to be critical, it is what it is.

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#37628 - 06/19/14 09:05 AM Re: Missing Whitney Hiker [Re: Steve C]
wazzu Offline


Registered: 06/20/10
Posts: 319
Loc: Orange County, CA
The update this morning from Inyo County Sheriff has a little bit more of the group background

"...Likely and
his two friends have hiked as a group for approximately 30-years, and as a group have summited Mt. Whitney five times
throughout the years."

And more details on the search:
"...Sequoia-Kings National Park has provided ground operations to search the area between Trail Crest and the
Crab Tree Ranger Station
. California Rescue Dog Association (CARDA) has also joined the search and will be bringing in
specialized search dogs to assist in the operation."

Sure hope they find him today.


Edited by wazzu (06/19/14 09:07 AM)

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#37630 - 06/19/14 09:38 AM Re: Missing Whitney Hiker [Re: Daves Not Here]
wbtravis Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1242
Loc: Corner of Jack Benny and Roche...
Originally Posted By: Daves Not Here
From WBTRAVIS 'Are you really hiking in a group? Many start up together but in a few hours they are separated by miles. This is the meetup.com way of hiking which can lead to what my friends and I call mufu. '

Thank you for your unjust generalization that all meet up groups hike this way. I happen to own a meet up hike group. We are 2000 strong and have been hiking 4 years this coming November. In this time we have not left one person behind or had to report one of members missing.

Again from WBTRAVIS 'The name of the game is trust. Do you trust the people you are going out with to be there for you. If you don't, it is incumbent you find people you do trust or you might as well hike alone.'

This is not a game. Hiking in any venue requires knowledge. Knowledge of your limits is the first priority. Second is knowing your surroundings. Third is preparation, having the proper clothing, equipment and supplies you need to reach your destination and to make a safe return.

Members of my group that can't or don't want to follow these simple guidelines are not allowed to participate in our events.


Dave, where did I say all? Nice strawman built then destroyed. It is not unjust. I have hiked many meetup groups hike spread over many years and I have seen them while volunteering in the San Gorgonio Wilderness. Your sample is your group while I have sampled many. You know like the fast group that went up to Grinnell last winter and left someone well behind...he complained to me when we met up on the trail near Poopout Hill. Like a south Riverside County group that was spread out by at least 2 miles last weekend...that not a group, that is hiking as individuals. I could go on but I do not want bore everyone. Maybe you should talk to some local SAR volunteers about their problems with meetup hiking groups...I know I have, that is where I first heard the term mufu.

You don't like name of the game is trust, eh. Then you name all that things that make people trustworthy.

As meetup organizer, I screen people but you are counting on them to be honest. Over the years, I have found you end up with some whose skills are not what they say they are and they do not have the required gear you requested they carry. When you discover that 3-miles up a cross country ridge route, what do you do? Send them packing? No, you slow things down and make the best of it for everyone involve...then you do not allow them on your hikes.

You are responsible, many in meetup are not.

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#37631 - 06/19/14 09:51 AM Re: Missing Whitney Hiker [Re: wazzu]
wbtravis Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1242
Loc: Corner of Jack Benny and Roche...
Wazzu,

This changes my thought process on this...to there was an accident or an accident because of health episode somewhere along the trail rather and a walk off into area a noob might.

I lose the trail between Trailside Meadow and Mirror Lake most times up but after being up their more than few times, I only lose it by a few steps rather than wander around in search of a trail.

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