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Re: Missing Whitney Hiker
Harvey Lankford #37634 06/19/14 11:22 AM
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Harvey and Bulldog make very good points about long distance and perceptions at altitude. I did not now about the red thing. Its possible that the hikers did not see their friend at the cables, but I would tend to discount that analysis by a couple of factors. First if the red loss phenomenon were at play, it seems more likely that the observation would have been something like: hey, there's a guy who looks like John, but he's not wearing a red cap". Second, it was this groups 6th time on the mountain, making a wrong turn at the JMT junction pretty unlikely. A lot of coincidences would have to conspire to result in a bad ID.

On the other hand, I assume that last Saturday was a typically busy day, with the trail clear of snow, with how many permits out? Yet apparently no one, not one, has reported meeting this guy anywhere on the trail.

However this turns out, it is a pretty strange case.


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Re: Missing Whitney Hiker
saltydog #37635 06/19/14 11:37 AM
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Has SAR mentioned where there was a firm last visual contact between this hiker and his partners?

I'm getting conflicting information about where they were last together, TrailCrest or below?

Re: Missing Whitney Hiker
saltydog #37636 06/19/14 11:38 AM
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One thing none of the reports say is what time he was on the summit, and what time the others in his party (believe they) last saw him.

I am wondering if they could make a guess where he was when darkness fell.

I would hope by now Inyo has contacted every permit holder who was on the trail Saturday. Out of 200+ hikers, it would seem like some would remember seeing him. (edit: just talked to Inyo N.F. and Sheriff Dispatch. They have not been in contact.)

I wonder if the others in the party were carrying a camera, might have pictures of him as well as their group. Publishing them might give other hikers a reference, too.

Last edited by Steve C; 06/19/14 11:52 AM.
Re: Missing Whitney Hiker
saltydog #37637 06/19/14 11:43 AM
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Originally Posted By: saltydog
Yet apparently no one, not one, has reported meeting this guy anywhere on the trail.
However this turns out, it is a pretty strange case.


Originally Posted By: wbtravis
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 think they may need to check the West Face of Whitney/Needles.

If he wandered off, it is most likely going to be down the JMT cutoff (whether he did so out of inexperience or because he perhaps needed to get to lower altitude for a health episode). Or perhaps one of the easternmost switchbacks (below Whitney Pass and high above Consultation Lake).

Steve also makes a great point about where he might have been during sundown.

Is it known whether or not the group had stayed on the Switchbacks on the way up? Had they considered using the chute? Maybe he considered opting for a speedy glissade down the chute in lieu of the switchbacks?


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Re: Missing Whitney Hiker
saltydog #37638 06/19/14 11:48 AM
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Salty we are just throwing out any idea, but something simple is likely.

I have come down from Whitney seeing big Consolation lake more impressive than TrailCamp lake. You ramble over there over small boulders, or on small trails near its outlet... I wonder. And how about the west side phenomenon where people are in the going down mode, get to the JMT junction, fail to go up to Trailcrest, and instead just keep going down. I don't remember despite mult times. , but perhaps there is such a similar less obvious place on the east side. You might think there could be enough SAR stats over the years to suspect such an area. Anyone know?

This is a very private event that we are all participating in here in a public way. It is not just prurient, but for the education of us all. There but by the Grace....

Re: Missing Whitney Hiker
Snacking Bear #37639 06/19/14 11:49 AM
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From the very first SAR posting, the party was together at the summit (is this confirmed?) and then there is no clear confirmation that he went down the Whitney trail rather than JMT.

Just my speculation, but it sounds as if the party split up before Trail Crest and they did not confirm he took the correct trail.

Last edited by Marle; 06/19/14 11:49 AM.
Re: Missing Whitney Hiker
Harvey Lankford #37646 06/19/14 03:58 PM
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Harvey: I am sure you are right, that it will turn out to be some very simple mistake or accident, but I am betting that it will also be something very quirky or unlikely. the JMT junction sign was replaced last year, pointing all the arrows in the correct directions, and John has summited six times now over the past 30 years, so a misdirection at that point seems improbable. The Consultation Lake diversion is also possible, but the outlet stream goes right to Outpost Camp and the access trail goes back the the MWMT. I can't think of any other search even over the whole length of the trail that has gone on this long.


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Re: Missing Whitney Hiker
saltydog #37648 06/19/14 04:16 PM
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Originally Posted By: saltydog
Harvey: I am sure you are right, that it will turn out to be some very simple mistake or accident, but I am betting that it will also be something very quirky or unlikely. the JMT junction sign was replaced last year, pointing all the arrows in the correct directions, and John has summited six times now over the past 30 years, so a misdirection at that point seems improbable. The Consultation Lake diversion is also possible, but the outlet stream goes right to Outpost Camp and the access trail goes back the the MWMT. I can't think of any other search even over the whole length of the trail that has gone on this long.


People rarely hike together for 30 year if not married, unless they have similar hiking speeds and styles. So this fellow was definitely way behind his friends GOING DOWNHILL. There must be a reason. I keep going back to the adage "if you are ill at altitude, it is altitude illness until proven othewise". I don't think people really appreciate the effect of removing oxygen from the brain, in terms of brain function. He may not have seen the sign, or even the junction. He may have been following the right side of the trail. Beck Weathers told me of doing something like that when his vision started failing.

He's got to be SOMEWHERE. But I find it hard to believe it is in the 2-1/2 mile section.

Re: Missing Whitney Hiker
Bob West #37649 06/19/14 04:27 PM
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Update from The Sierra Wave today:

The Sierra Wave

Chiefly interesting is this quote, "'We have followed every lead, back-tracked the hiking route and the surrounding terrain, posted flyers, interviewed hikers, and still nothing. My experience in search and rescue leads me to remain confident that the skills and expertise of the search and rescue members will result in the location of Likely. But this search is leaving even the seasoned experts scratching their heads.'


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Re: Missing Whitney Hiker
Snacking Bear #37650 06/19/14 04:50 PM
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If we combine Peters reminder about easy trail junctions and Kens reminder about brain being out if gear because of altitude or illness, then our speculations about his location become even more cloudy. I was last on the east side in 2012, robotically descended without illness, etc , but in retrospect know that I could have detoured in several places. A group I led in 2011 found several of those spots as well, but they were newbies and had an excuse

Re: Missing Whitney Hiker
wbtravis #37651 06/19/14 04:50 PM
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I have no personal experience with meet-up hiking - I generally prefer to go solo or with a small group of people I know and trust - but I had an experience a few years ago in Yosemite on Mt. Dana that blew my mind. My family and I were about halfway up and took what was planned to be a short break. A few minutes later a stream of hikers began to go by - literally dozens. Our break went much longer than planned because there was really no way to jump back on the trail without literally merging.

We watched this in growing fascination and finally saw an opportunity to get on the trail after maybe 60 folks had gone by. We discovered they were a meet-up group out of SoCal and were training for - you guessed it - Mt. Whitney. On the descent we were ahead of this main group and were still running into a people on ascent who asked if we had seen a group of meet-up hikers along the way. These folks were easily 3 hours behind that first main group, and clearly struggling. I never did see anyone who I could identify as a sweep.

I remember looking at my wife and we said the same thing simultaneously - "Like herding cats."

Re: Missing Whitney Hiker
lynn-a-roo #37658 06/19/14 08:27 PM
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I just received a text from my hiking partner. She runs with a very large circle of various search and rescue personnel. She said she just heard from one of them that John has probably been found and his condition is unknown. She told me she will get more details in a few hours.

Re: Missing Whitney Hiker
Daves Not Here #37664 06/19/14 10:27 PM
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"Probably" is an important term in SAR context. Daves, can you stay with this one for a little while tonight and let us know more?

Last edited by saltydog; 06/19/14 10:42 PM.

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Re: Missing Whitney Hiker
saltydog #37665 06/19/14 10:31 PM
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Please keep in mind, folks, that family members of the missing always read the forums.

Please do not post private information until it has been cleared for release, as this has caused heartache on other forums in the past.


The body betrays and the weather conspires, hopefully, not on the same day.
Re: Missing Whitney Hiker
Bee #37666 06/19/14 10:44 PM
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Bee,

Your message was understood.

Happy to hear there is a possibility that Likely was found.


Lynnaroo
Re: Missing Whitney Hiker
Bee #37667 06/19/14 10:46 PM
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Originally Posted By: Bee
Please keep in mind, folks, that family members of the missing always read the forums.

Please do not post private information until it has been cleared for release, as this has caused heartache on other forums in the past.


Thanks for the reminder, Bee. Family reading this should be assured that we are paying attention and that we care.


Wherever you go, there you are.
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Re: Missing Whitney Hiker
saltydog #37668 06/19/14 10:48 PM
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In the past, the feedback has been positive from families, as it really touches them that the hiking family at large is really rooting for them.


The body betrays and the weather conspires, hopefully, not on the same day.
Re: Missing Whitney Hiker
saltydog #37673 06/20/14 05:25 AM
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I agree with you Salty. It's 5am and I am waiting to hear from my friend. I will post anything I hear asap.

Re: Missing Whitney Hiker
Daves Not Here #37679 06/20/14 08:04 AM
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Thank you! I was logging on and checking for an update on John through the night. I continue to pray for him and his family that he just got off trail and has managed to keep himself warm enough and hydrated. That's the best case scenario and that's what I'm holding on to.

Re: Missing Whitney Hiker
Sara Keenan #37680 06/20/14 08:14 AM
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Me too, Sarah

This man is an experienced hiker with 5 previous Whitney summits under his belt.

Praying for the best.

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