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#37876 - 06/24/14 02:54 AM Re: Musings on Searches and Trails [Re: wagga]
Bulldog34 Offline


Registered: 11/12/09
Posts: 1255
Loc: Atlanta
"Authorities believe Likely saw the lake and tried to take a more direct route to his destination - Outpost Camp - before falling."

Understanding that we'll never truly know what happened, this seems a likely scenario for someone with John's experience. If the XC was truly deliberate on his part, at least it takes some heat off the slabs. I still think it would be prudent to establish a reassurance barrier or two along the faintest areas, as Ken and others have suggested. I generally have a pretty good nose for trail but these slabs have tricked me out more than once, and apparently I'm in good company.

On the subject of the Rockwell shortcuts, I'd be curious to know more details for the one in this area. Bob described them to me once, but I can only recall the route from Bighorn Park to Outpost, and Trailside Meadow to Trail Camp. I'm drawing a blank on this section.

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#37877 - 06/24/14 06:42 AM Re: Musings on Searches and Trails [Re: Bulldog34]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7871
Loc: Fresno, CA
I am pretty sure there is no shortcut in this area.

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#37881 - 06/24/14 07:20 AM Re: Musings on Searches and Trails [Re: Bulldog34]
Akichow Offline


Registered: 04/07/10
Posts: 659
Loc: SF Bay Area
Bulldog, I am pretty sure I found the Rockwell shortcut through the slabs that avoids the Mirror Lake switchbacks when I was on my unplanned detour and frolic on the way down that time (once I saw the stunning stealth campsites, I had an "aha" moment). However, the shortcut gets you back on the trail past the slabs at the point you and I had been discussing that is above Mirror Lake. The picture depicts an area much higher above that and I, too, doubt there is a summer shortcut in this area.

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#37885 - 06/24/14 09:01 AM Re: Musings on Searches and Trails [Re: 63ChevyII.com]
psychler Offline


Registered: 06/02/13
Posts: 2
Loc: ca
"it seems that there are a couple of really steep chutes further up the trail. A couple of weeks ago, I vaguely remember getting off trail a bit on our descent, looking off a ledge to my left and thinking, 'We're not supposed to be here' then heading to our right until we found the trail. "

That shaded area does not appear to line up with photos of where SAR was descending to retrieve the body. I think the deviation point may be at the hairpin turn on the small ridge dividing the Wotan' Throne drainage from the Lone Pine Creek drainage (aka dividing the Mirror Lake bowl from the Consultation Lake side). It's at about 11,482 (3500 meters) or so. He was found at an elevation just below that: 11,450. Coming down, if you missed the hard right switchback, you'd walk right down into that chute. Maybe that's what you have in the photo, and it's distorted? It's hard to tell, but the placement of the trail seems off - it would be on the other side of that ridge.

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#37886 - 06/24/14 09:05 AM Re: Musings on Searches and Trails [Re: Bee]
wbtravis Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1253
Loc: Corner of Jack Benny and Roche...
Bee,

Thanks for taking what I said out of text. How many deaths on this mountain a year do you find acceptable and what would you do to get them to that number? Also,Could you tell what caused this accident? If you can maybe you can get me on board for a solution. So far, that can be remotely be construed as a cause is hiking alone.

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#37887 - 06/24/14 09:13 AM Re: Musings on Searches and Trails [Re: Bulldog34]
wbtravis Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1253
Loc: Corner of Jack Benny and Roche...
Bulldog,

I thought that shortcut was to bypass Mirror Lake on the way to Outpost Camp. I know in the winter, we cut down somewhere and ended up below the Mirror Lake but I can't rememeber where. It's been a good 10 years since we did it.

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#37888 - 06/24/14 09:43 AM Re: Musings on Searches and Trails [Re: Akichow]
Bulldog34 Offline


Registered: 11/12/09
Posts: 1255
Loc: Atlanta
It sounds like this may be a snowpack-shortcut, but not really do-able in summer. God knows the MMWT has a few of those - the chute above TC being the most obvious.

As I recall, Bob had mentioned several direct lines that avoided endless switchbacks or meandering trail. I'm guessing these were primarily summer cuts along steeper ridges or slabs. The first was above Lone Pine Lake, to maybe Bighorn Park or somewhere in the vicinity below Outpost Camp. Then a straight shot between Trailside Meadow and Trail Camp. Another was more or less a direct line to the summit from the western crest trail that cuts out that big, winding loop to the left - the one that makes you scratch your head and wonder why you're being directed away from the summit. And, of course, starting at the old trailhead and bypassing the North Fork.

The next time I'm not hauling a 35-pound pack up Whitney, I'd like to check out these two in the middle section of the route.

And Akichow - did you notice the stealth campsite on the 97 switchbacks? Honest. South of the trail, somewhere in the high 70s or 80s, as I recall.

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#37890 - 06/24/14 10:08 AM Re: Musings on Searches and Trails [Re: Bulldog34]
wbtravis Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1253
Loc: Corner of Jack Benny and Roche...
That 35# pack thing gets in the way of exploring...sometimes. However, my winter pack is close to 30# on very cold full gear days...and that does stop me from exploring.

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#37891 - 06/24/14 10:34 AM Re: Musings on Searches and Trails [Re: psychler]
63ChevyII.com Offline


Registered: 08/07/12
Posts: 670
Loc: Colton, California
Originally Posted By: psychler
Maybe that's what you have in the photo, and it's distorted? It's hard to tell, but the placement of the trail seems off - it would be on the other side of that ridge.


If by 'placement of the trail' you mean the red and blue lines, those were placed there automatically by Google Earth. Their placement is based on the coordinates that my GPS recorded... of course there is a margin of error with any GPS. Google Earth distorts things also. They're basically taking a 2D satellite photo and stretching it over a 3D model.


Comparing the picture above to what I see in GE, this looks like it could be the area. Once again though, this is just a guess...



The topic of abandonment and sticking together on hikes has me thinking about my next Whitney hike, coming up in September.

A little background info...
In the spring on 2011, I did not hike and really had no interest. My good friend, JP, got Whitney permits and spent a couple of months convincing me to go. If Whitney wasn't the highest peak in the lower 48, I don't think he would have convinced me. Fast forward to 2014. I'm the one that's organizing and planning all of the hikes. We go back to Whitney together every year, but JP has not hiked above Trail Camp since 2011. He has known issues with AMS, and since he has already summited, the struggle is not worth it to him. However, he does enjoy the hike up to Trail Camp and the acclimation hikes I plan before Whitney. I enjoy having him along for the hike; he's a good friend and I enjoy his company. He knows the trail. If someone has AMS issues in the group, we have someone that is ready to descend with them. If we need to drive home after the hike, we have someone to drive who didn't just finish a 20+ mile hike.

Now, my question is, going into the hike and knowing there's a 75% or greater chance that JP will turn around at Trail Camp...

What would the perception be if he descended alone and something happened to him. Would we be accused of abandoning him or being irresponsible?
Under what circumstances should someone descend with him? There are obvious circumstances (vomiting, mountaineer's foot, etc). But what if he says, 'I have a bad headache?' What if we make it to Trailside Meadow and he decides to turn around b/c the 'AMS headache' hits earlier and harder than normal?
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#37893 - 06/24/14 10:57 AM Re: Musings on Searches and Trails [Re: wbtravis]
Ken Offline


Registered: 10/29/09
Posts: 742
Loc: Los Angeles
This is the shortcut I'm thinking about, 4B. I think the one WB described is 4A:


============================

4A (300) (Ascending or descending) The “Peach Mango” shortcut leaves the Main Trail at Mirror Lake, just after the Mirror Lake sign, and ascends sharply up on nice slabs, to rejoin the Main Trail before it heads up and west over the long bench toward Trailside Meadow. There is a big bottle of orange drink under a tree about a third of the way up. Here and there you can see the Main Trail a couple of hundred feet to your right, switching gently back and forth while you continue your upward progression.

4B (400’) (Descending) The “Tin Pie Plate” shortcut saves only a few minutes if that, but it is a refreshing change from the monotonous Main Trail, and there is a nice class 3 section near the bottom. If you are in a hurry, take 4A down instead.

On the bench overlooking Mirror Lake, the Main Trail gains 5’ in elevation, loses it, then gains 5’ again. 100’ past the top of this second rise, slant sharply left for 50’ and drop to a sandy ledge containing several small pine trees. Turn hard left (west) to enter a now obvious couloir, and descend it for ~300’. Upon reaching a ledge from which further progress seems unlikely, turn right. Passing a duck with a tin pie plate is the key. Descend class 3 the rest of the way, ending about 100’ above Mirror Lake. Now traverse to the Main Trail.

=========================

Description of "sandy ledge containing several small pine trees" makes me think of where the SAR Rap picture was taken.

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#37894 - 06/24/14 11:10 AM Re: Musings on Searches and Trails [Re: 63ChevyII.com]
Ken Offline


Registered: 10/29/09
Posts: 742
Loc: Los Angeles
What would the perception be if he descended alone and something happened to him. Would we be accused of abandoning him or being irresponsible?

>>>you can count on it. In fact, if you carry him down on your back, you can STILL count on it. Something happens=kneejerk response of criticism, particularly in the lay media.

>>>>>Reasoned, experienced people might have a different response.


Under what circumstances should someone descend with him? There are obvious circumstances (vomiting, mountaineer's foot, etc). But what if he says, 'I have a bad headache?' What if we make it to Trailside Meadow and he decides to turn around b/c the 'AMS headache' hits earlier and harder than normal?

>>>here is where judgement comes into play. Generally speaking, I think if a person turns around for a medical issue (AMS is one), they should be accompanied. The problem is, it can get worse very fast, making them incapable of walking. No way of knowing. I think of the young guy in a guided trip who died over on the Cottonwood Lakes trail, at a little over 10K.

I'd feel pretty comfortable, if because of a HA at TM, he decided to stop there for an extended rest, accompanied, the HA resolved, but he decided to go down instead of up, letting him go alone. At that point his problem seems to have resolved, but he knows what he faces up higher. Probable exception would be if he had to descend in the dark. I'd definitely have him accompanied.

DONT have him take the shortcuts from TM to Mirror Lake!

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#37895 - 06/24/14 11:21 AM Re: Musings on Searches and Trails [Re: 63ChevyII.com]
Snacking Bear Offline


Registered: 08/09/11
Posts: 502
Loc: Nashville, TN
63Chevy

Since you are the man with the tech...

"An aerial crew spotted the chute, located at 11,450 feet."

Maybe this can narrow the area down.

From the LA Times Artice yesterday:
http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-remains-identified-mt-whitney-20140623-story.html
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#37897 - 06/24/14 11:34 AM Re: Musings on Searches and Trails [Re: 63ChevyII.com]
Ken Offline


Registered: 10/29/09
Posts: 742
Loc: Los Angeles
63, that's nice photo work!

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#37899 - 06/24/14 11:53 AM Re: Musings on Searches and Trails [Re: Snacking Bear]
63ChevyII.com Offline


Registered: 08/07/12
Posts: 670
Loc: Colton, California
Originally Posted By: Ken
63, that's nice photo work!

Thanks Ken.

Originally Posted By: Snacking Bear
63Chevy

Since you are the man with the tech...

"An aerial crew spotted the chute, located at 11,450 feet."

Maybe this can narrow the area down.

From the LA Times Artice yesterday:
http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-remains-identified-mt-whitney-20140623-story.html


Snacking Bear - I thought of that also, but the elevation readings in GE didn't match up with the area I had been looking at previously. Your post, prompted me to look a little further up the trail. Thoughts?



Here's screenshot of the area with a topo map layered over it.

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#37903 - 06/24/14 01:36 PM Re: Musings on Searches and Trails [Re: Snacking Bear]
63ChevyII.com Offline


Registered: 08/07/12
Posts: 670
Loc: Colton, California
Originally Posted By: Snacking Bear

"An aerial crew spotted the chute, located at 11,450 feet."


Do you think they mean 10,450?

Wouldn't 11,450 put the chute somewhere between Trailside Meadow and Trail Camp, unless he climbed up from the MWMT?


Edited by 63ChevyII.com (06/24/14 02:28 PM)
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#37906 - 06/24/14 02:34 PM Re: Musings on Searches and Trails [Re: 63ChevyII.com]
saltydog Offline


Registered: 02/03/11
Posts: 1566
Loc: Valley Ford CA!!!!
Originally Posted By: 63ChevyII.com
Originally Posted By: Snacking Bear

"An aerial crew spotted the chute, located at 11,450 feet."


Do you think they mean 10,450?

Wouldn't 11,450 put the chute somewhere between Trailside Meadow and Trail Camp, unless he climb up from the MWMT?


No, 10450 would put it just above Outpost, which is at 10,400, but yes 11450 would put it higher than TM. But, 11450 does seem high: there is a very important feature in the published photo: the (whitebark?) pine in the foreground. The highest tree along the trail used to be a krumholz whitebark just about at the top of the switchers above ML. Pretty unlikely to find another one significantly higher than that. Lining up the angles between ML and Big Horn park and a couple of other features, I put the POV of the published shot much lower than the x in the above photos. Another strong possibility is that the photo shows an exploratory rap in a different location, not the recovery operation itself. IF this were the actual recovery, there should be a lot more people and equipment in the shot.


Edited by saltydog (06/24/14 02:55 PM)
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#37907 - 06/24/14 02:49 PM Re: Musings on Searches and Trails [Re: saltydog]
63ChevyII.com Offline


Registered: 08/07/12
Posts: 670
Loc: Colton, California
Originally Posted By: saltydog
IF this were the actual recovery, there should be a lot more people and equipment in the shot.


Good point!
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#37912 - 06/24/14 03:46 PM Re: Musings on Searches and Trails [Re: Ken]
Ken Offline


Registered: 10/29/09
Posts: 742
Loc: Los Angeles
Personally, I think the thing that is going to revolutionize SAR is drone technology.

I'm thinking of a recovery that took place in one of the couloirs of the needles, that was very dangerous to rap. It could have been up or down flown in about a minute, with no risk at all.

With the current episode, all the likely fall areas could have been carefully searched in a day by one person, with no risk.

One might say that drones would be that much more additional weight, but if it replaced a bunch of climbing gear for exploration.....

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#37931 - 06/24/14 09:00 PM Re: Musings on Searches and Trails [Re: saltydog]
Jim Means Offline


Registered: 03/29/12
Posts: 5
Loc: San Diego, CA
Originally Posted By: saltydog
Originally Posted By: 63ChevyII.com
Originally Posted By: Snacking Bear

"An aerial crew spotted the chute, located at 11,450 feet."


Do you think they mean 10,450?

Wouldn't 11,450 put the chute somewhere between Trailside Meadow and Trail Camp, unless he climb up from the MWMT?


No, 10450 would put it just above Outpost, which is at 10,400, but yes 11450 would put it higher than TM. But, 11450 does seem high: there is a very important feature in the published photo: the (whitebark?) pine in the foreground. The highest tree along the trail used to be a krumholz whitebark just about at the top of the switchers above ML. Pretty unlikely to find another one significantly higher than that. Lining up the angles between ML and Big Horn park and a couple of other features, I put the POV of the published shot much lower than the x in the above photos. Another strong possibility is that the photo shows an exploratory rap in a different location, not the recovery operation itself. IF this were the actual recovery, there should be a lot more people and equipment in the shot.


I wouldn't rule out that the photo was of the recovery operation. This same photo was posted on the Inyo Register site last Friday (beating the LA papers by several days), and the captioning there says that the photo was Friday and that they were preparing to rappel down the chute where the body was sighted from the air Thursday night. The SAR team may not have thought to put all of their gear into the photo to satisfy the speculators on the WWW.

In the photo it appears that a line drawn from the trees on the north side of Bighorn Park through the southwestern corner of Mirror Lake would pass pretty close to where the SAR team is located.

Here's my attempt at this in Google Earth, red line showing approximate photo line of sight:



SAR team appears to be on north side of ridge from the point where the trail starts to switch down to Trailside Meadow. There is a very deep chute near there.

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#37949 - 06/25/14 08:46 AM Re: Musings on Searches and Trails [Re: Jim Means]
saltydog Offline


Registered: 02/03/11
Posts: 1566
Loc: Valley Ford CA!!!!
Very informative shot, Jim Means. I think the red line is very close . I put it rotated maybe a degree to the south, nearer the base of the cliff in the right of the news photo. there is a later version I think in the Inyo paper that shows a few more people and their gear, and its clearly labeled as the recovery.

Two things stand out from your shot: first, the apparent location is right off a very sharp right hand switcher above TSM. Miss that turn and the line takes you right to the top of the chute indicated in your GE shot. Makes me think this is much more likely a missed trail than a deliberate shortcut.

Second, this location is not in any of the trail photos or GE shots we were looking at, even after the press release of last Friday announcing the find and describing it as in a steep chute above Mirror Lake. The description was accurate, but it is not where we were looking before we got the news photo.

Oh, except for wbtravis: " I view the area between Consultation Lake and Trailside Meadow that is highly exposed as the most likely place ".


Edited by saltydog (06/25/14 09:49 AM)
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