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Missing Whitney Hiker: recovered
#37501 06/16/14 05:16 PM
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A search is underway for a missing Mt. Whitney hiker. Did anyone see this person?

http://www.sierrawave.net/30655/for-missing-hiker/

Last edited by Steve C; 06/21/14 08:30 AM. Reason: subject changed
Re: Missing Whitney Hiker
Bob West #37503 06/16/14 06:21 PM
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Thanks for posting Bob.

Here's the SierraWave article and picture:
Quote:
Inyo, Mono SAR look for missing hiker
June 16, 2014

The Inyo County Sheriff’s Office was notified yesterday afternoon that 60-year-old John Likely

from Dumont, NJ had been separated from his hiking group and hadn’t been seen since June 14th. According to information received, a group of three friends who have hiked together regularly throughout the years, summited Mt. Whitney on June 14th. During the decent down the trail, Likely was hiking at a slower pace than the other two members of the group; according to the reporting party it was not uncommon to go on ahead of Likely.

The two members of the hiking group continued their decent at a faster pace, and waited for Likely at Trail Camp. They could see Likely continuing down the switchbacks with their binoculars and decided they would continue on to Outpost Camp where they were to spend the night. Likely never made it to Outpost Camp. The two-person group searched for their friend the night of June 14th, and the morning of the 15th. The Sheriff’s Office was contacted and immediately responded with Inyo County Search and Rescue ground crews. Additional ground support is currently being provided by Mono County Search and Rescue, as well as China Lake Mountain Rescue Group. CHP helicopter H-80 is also assisting in the search.

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


Edit June 18: The Inyo County Sheriff's Office website is posting daily updates here:
Media & Press Releases
  June 16,2014
  June 17, 2014
  June 18, 2014



Last edited by Steve C; 06/18/14 04:43 PM.
Re: Missing Whitney Hiker
Steve C #37507 06/16/14 07:47 PM
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Wow, hopefully he makes it off the mountain ok.

On my last trip (June 3-4) we to two different hikers that had lost the trail between Trail Camp and Outpost Camp. I thought that it was due to the snow, but if this hiker got lost in the same area, it doesn't seem that snow could be to blame anymore.

Re: Missing Whitney Hiker
63ChevyII.com #37508 06/16/14 08:02 PM
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Originally Posted By: 63ChevyII.com
Wow, hopefully he makes it off the mountain ok.

On my last trip (June 3-4) we to two different hikers that had lost the trail between Trail Camp and Outpost Camp. I thought that it was due to the snow, but if this hiker got lost in the same area, it doesn't seem that snow could be to blame anymore.


Late in the day, the pound down the switchers and ledges from the "last foxtail" to Mirror Lake has claimed (and hidden) its victims. That's where I would concentrate this search.


Wherever you go, there you are.
SPOTMe!
Re: Missing Whitney Hiker
saltydog #37519 06/16/14 11:15 PM
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Reminds me of this fellow who was found near Mirror Lake in 2012: Missing Hiker for 36+ Hours

It is easy to lose the trail, especially in the dark in that area.

I always have a tough time reading about fast hikers taking off and leaving their slowest members on the mountain. Maybe these hikers did that often, but it just doesn't make sense. Doug at the Portal Store gets hundreds of people wandering in worrying about the people they left back up on the trail. In the "bad" memories I have had while hiking all involve hikers leaving the slowest behind.

Re: Missing Whitney Hiker
Steve C #37527 06/17/14 06:22 AM
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This is a story that repeats itself over and over, but some hikers never get the lesson until it happens to themselves or one of their friends.

The annals of SAR teams record that the separation of hiking parties from each other is one of the leading contributors to tragedy.

Re: Missing Whitney Hiker
Bob West #37534 06/17/14 09:44 AM
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Originally Posted By: Bob West
the separation of hiking parties from each other is one of the leading contributors to tragedy.
That sure seems to be the case. Yeah, I get it that it's a pain for a fast person to walk at a "clipped" pace, but is the risk worth it?

I've seen some groups put the slowest person up front and go from there. Stopping and waiting for everyone at every junction or trail sign was my dad's way of keeping our large family all together, and he would slow down (a lot -- he was pretty fast) in the first place to keep everyone together. Preaching to the choir I'm sure, here.

I hope he's OK, but the fact that he hasn't wandered into someone's camp yet gives me a bad feeling.

HJ


Backpacking stove reviews and information: Adventures In Stoving
Re: Missing Whitney Hiker
Bob West #37537 06/17/14 10:20 AM
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I have a routine that I have always used when hiking with a group of more than two people. I call it the 10 minute rule. Dates back to my days as a boy scout under Scout Master Robert Parker. Every ten minutes you look back until you see the person that was behind you. They know you are looking back to see them. If all is good you wave at each other and then get back to hiking. If not they can signal you that they need help. Each person in front will know something is wrong when they don't see the person behind them within 5 minutes of the 10 minute mark. This way with a group of seven hikers the fastest hiker will only get about 1 hour ahead of the slowest hiker.

I hope this hiker is OK and waiting to be found. My thoughts are with the whole hiking community. I hate to hear of a fellow hiker not coming out.

Re: Missing Whitney Hiker
Bob West #37541 06/17/14 10:43 AM
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Not only is it more dangerous for both the slow hiker and the fast hiker to separate, why are you even hiking together if you don't want to hike together? Don't you hike with a partner, both to assist each other physically - be there if one of you is injured for instance - and for companionship. You lose both of those benefits if you run off.

I ride a bike, and I ride slower than I'm capable of if I'm out on a ride with a slower person. If I'm riding with a faster rider,my experience has been that they slow down for me, otherwise you're on a solo ride. How or why is hiking any different? (Other than it makes even more sense to have a partner than in bike riding.)

Last edited by 2Old4This; 06/17/14 10:48 AM.
Re: Missing Whitney Hiker
hikin_jim #37544 06/17/14 11:54 AM
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Originally Posted By: hikin_jim

I've seen some groups put the slowest person up front and go from there.


When I am 'leading' a group I try to encourage that, but unfortunately, the slowest person isn't always willing to set the pace. Much of the time I will end up setting the pace and will move at a speed that keeps the slowest person in sight.

I have found at times that it is tough to move at someone's pace if they are significantly slower than you. When I plan hikes like Whitney, I try to make sure that everyone is able to buddy up with someone that hikes at a similar pace.

Re: Missing Whitney Hiker
63ChevyII.com #37546 06/17/14 12:21 PM
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This is timely.... the latest Wilderness and Environmental Med J had several articles on search methods and stats:



these are not all in the mountains but you get the jist of these averages (of where they are found from site of departure). The wording is my paraphrasing and the numbers are approx from my memory of reading the article last night: :

1-3 yo infant : no route finding skills, tend to hole up in cubby hole, found within 0.2 miles

4-6 yo child: some route finding/can follow trail. Found within 0.6 miles

hikers: most common cause of being lost is an oblivious miss of trail junction, or an obscured/confusing junction. May wander around looking for clues. Surprisingly only 52% are found at lower altitude. I thought it would be more than that. They explained the stats are being skewed by people seeking cell phone reception at higher rather than lower slopes, where people normally would tend to go. Average distance: 1.6 miles

elderly/demented: no route finding skills. Do not attempt to communicate (don't know they are lost). Walk in generally the same direction until stopped by a barrier. 0.4mi. A whopping 45 % are found dead.

From another article: (1) solo hikers are the largest group of victims (2) backtracking to find where you are is more appropriate than plowing ahead, but is the least used method by the victim. (This is influenced by the lack of recognition that they are lost.)


I am surprised the man has not been found yet. This does not bode well.

Re: Missing Whitney Hiker
Harvey Lankford #37548 06/17/14 01:43 PM
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The Sierra Club sweep system works very well... do not get ahead of the leader or behind the sweep. Leader does a head count at every opportunity. And leader always stops at any trail junction to allow the group to coalesce.


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Re: Missing Whitney Hiker
saltydog #37551 06/17/14 02:36 PM
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Originally Posted By: saltydog
Originally Posted By: 63ChevyII.com
Wow, hopefully he makes it off the mountain ok.

On my last trip (June 3-4) we to two different hikers that had lost the trail between Trail Camp and Outpost Camp. I thought that it was due to the snow, but if this hiker got lost in the same area, it doesn't seem that snow could be to blame anymore.


Late in the day, the pound down the switchers and ledges from the "last foxtail" to Mirror Lake has claimed (and hidden) its victims. That's where I would concentrate this search.


My thoughts and prayers are with him, his family & friends, and the searchers.

As always I agree with Salty.

In 98 an inexperienced friend of the family joined up with a church group on a summit bid. He started late, turned around after 5 PM and then got lost between TC and Mirror Lake in the twilight.

His knees gave out going down the hard rocky bluffs above Mirror Lake. He saw the reflection of the lake gloaming in the twilight making a beeline for it. He didn't remember the sizable cliff of 150-300 feet that separates the MWMT from Mirror Lake. He slipped and slid 80 ft down the incline until he was stopped by a pine sapling on a narrow slanted ledge above the lake.

He spent the night until InyoSAR detected him and they were able to rescue him the next morning.

I think that section of trail is easy to lose. You lose the packed down sand of the lower regions and the compacted scralus of the upper portions. You really have to look ahead to know where you are going.

IMHO I'd focus the search to that region.


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Re: Missing Whitney Hiker
Steve C #37557 06/17/14 05:33 PM
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I left Outpost Camp at 9:00 PM Sunday evening. My partner and I did not encounter anyone on trail from Outpost all the way to Trail camp. We were stopped a few times on the descent and asked if we had seen John. It didn't occur to me at the time to mention this, so I just called the Inyo Sheriff to report it.

Re: Missing Whitney Hiker
Daves Not Here #37558 06/17/14 05:42 PM
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He's been missing a long time - 3 days now. Here Tuesday evening, I called the posted phone number and asked. He has not been found!

...still holding out hope.

Re: Missing Whitney Hiker
Steve C #37562 06/17/14 06:14 PM
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We encountered 30 mph winds with gusts to the mid 40's, the temperature was in the mid 30's with out the wind chill. Unfortunately this isn't going to end well. I don't know what time it was when his friends say they last saw him, but he was below the cables according to them. There are quite a few places along the trail between Mirror Lake and Trail camp that you can go over the edge. He will probably be found in this area. My thoughts are on him and his family.

Re: Missing Whitney Hiker
Snacking Bear #37564 06/17/14 06:39 PM
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Originally Posted By: Snacking Bear
He didn't remember the sizable cliff of 150-300 feet that separates the MWMT from Mirror Lake. He slipped and slid 80 ft down the incline until he was stopped by a pine sapling on a narrow slanted ledge above the lake.

He spent the night until InyoSAR detected him and they were able to rescue him the next morning.

I think that section of trail is easy to lose. You lose the packed down sand of the lower regions and the compacted scralus of the upper portions. You really have to look ahead to know where you are going.

IMHO I'd focus the search to that region.


I am just drawing a blank on this area that people are talking about...cliff? Could someone post pictures of the area if they have them?


The body betrays and the weather conspires, hopefully, not on the same day.
Re: Missing Whitney Hiker
Bee #37565 06/17/14 06:58 PM
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Hey Bee:

If it's the same location I'm thinking of, it's where Mirror Lake first comes into view on your left when descending the Main Trail from Trailside Meadow. A couple of years ago during a July hike (the heavy snow year), a buddy and I saw two guys take a shortcut by glissading down the slope immediately adjacent to the left of the Main Trail at this location, and they almost made it all the way to Mirror. It is definitely a significant slope, but at this location the path-like trail is clearly marked. I think I took a photo (or video) of them, and I'll see if I can find it.

Many on this Board and the WPSMB are hoping for a safe return of Mr. Likely and the SAR teams working hard up there.

BruinDave

Re: Missing Whitney Hiker
BruinDave #37566 06/17/14 07:04 PM
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Even a 2 foot fall is a dangerous cliff. Presumably he was off trail, and so there are cliffs everywhere, 2 ft and more .

For that matter, you do not even need a cliff. Just falling from your own height is bad enough. All of us are speculators, and someone will say morbid. But lessons are there.

Re: Missing Whitney Hiker
BruinDave #37570 06/17/14 09:53 PM
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Thanks, Dave. I think that I might have been in some sort of trance when I passed this area (on the way back) because I have drawn a blank on it in the past when this area was brought up. I remember going up some slabby sort of area on the way up, and I thought that one could possibly get confused in the dark, if he/she was not in good order.


The body betrays and the weather conspires, hopefully, not on the same day.
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