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Recovered: Missing Hiker in Sequoia National Park
#39249 07/30/14 07:16 PM
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News Releases - Sequoia and Kings Canyon N.P.

Please help us get the word out--a hiker is missing in Sequoia National Park.

For printable flyer: http://www.nps.gov/seki/parknews/upload/MISSING-HIKER-Dawson-Johnson-July-30-2014.pdf



Edit:  Dawson Johnson hiked to the Mt Whitney summit, Tuesday, July 29, but failed to return to his campsite at Crabtree Meadow. His wife reported him missing, and late Wednesday, his body was spotted on the north side of Mt Whitney where he apparently had fallen and died. His remains were recovered, and on Friday, Sequoia National Park published the news.

Rest in Peace, Dawson Johnson. We all grieve when a hiker dies.

Last edited by Steve C; 08/02/14 11:52 PM.
Re: Missing Hiker in Sequoia National Park
SEKI News #39253 07/30/14 07:58 PM
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second night out. No pack, which likely means little/no water.

You wouldn't think it was possible for someone to go missing in this section, although that happened with the older fellow a couple years back. At 3pm, though, he is up there later than most people will be on that section of trail.

Re: Missing Hiker in Sequoia National Park
SEKI News #39272 07/31/14 10:00 AM
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Thoughts and prayers are with him and his family.


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Re: Missing Hiker in Sequoia National Park
Snacking Bear #39306 07/31/14 09:16 PM
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Incredibly little follow-up to this story. Are missing hikers becoming so commonplace that the press is not interested? The original story says his itinerary was Crabtree to Guitar to Whitney. How do they know that? Did he leave a party at Crabtree? Word at the trailhead? Did he talk to someone on the way up? Is his family involved? Where was his camp? Is it still there? How do they know he is missing? Who reported that? WHy so little information?


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Re: Missing Hiker in Sequoia National Park
saltydog #39308 07/31/14 09:47 PM
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Your question prompted me to ask the Seki P.I. officer. The latest news is no news: "No new information is available at this time."

Young guys and old guys...... shouldn't hike alone!

Re: Missing Hiker in Sequoia National Park
Steve C #39309 07/31/14 10:03 PM
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Originally Posted By: Steve C


Young guys and old guys...... shouldn't hike alone!


SHHHHHHH....they will hear you and make a law!


The body betrays and the weather conspires, hopefully, not on the same day.
Re: Missing Hiker in Sequoia National Park
saltydog #39313 08/01/14 12:11 AM
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Originally Posted By: saltydog
Incredibly little follow-up to this story. Are missing hikers becoming so commonplace that the press is not interested? The original story says his itinerary was Crabtree to Guitar to Whitney. How do they know that? Did he leave a party at Crabtree? Word at the trailhead? Did he talk to someone on the way up? Is his family involved? Where was his camp? Is it still there? How do they know he is missing? Who reported that? WHy so little information?


There was some info posted on the "California Peaks" FB group. One hiker talked with the gentleman & his wife when they were all at Horseshoe Meadow a few days previously, and they told her of their plans. They were doing the PCT (not sure if just a section, or thru-hiking). Then one female hiker (the one who posted on CA Peaks) spoke with the gentleman when he was on his way down (solo) from the Whitney summit - he asked her if she was headed to Guitar & could she pass on a message to his wife that he was moving more slowly than anticipated, but was ok. The hiker was headed to the Portal, so she was unable to pass on the message. It seems that she may have been the last person to see the gentleman. frown

Re: Missing Hiker in Sequoia National Park
Steve C #39314 08/01/14 01:59 AM
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Originally Posted By: Steve C


Young guys and old guys...... shouldn't hike alone!


Yeah: good thing we're neither, huh?


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Re: Missing Hiker in Sequoia National Park
saltydog #39351 08/01/14 01:08 PM
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I completely understand your frustration.
The process has been this: every hiker they could reach (team leader on the permit) received a phone call from Forestry Services informing us that a hiker had gone missing on the day of our hike and requesting any info that might be useful. I received such a call.

I talked to Dawson on his way to summit. His wife was waiting down at guitar lake. So, between the info they received from his wife and what they can compile from hikers who had any info, they have pieced together the little bit of information known.
I can't begin to tell you how my heart aches for that family. Last word I heard from calling to forestry services again and again is that they are still looking.

That is all that's known publicly. I just hope the family has more info than we have frown

Re: Missing Hiker in Sequoia National Park
Spice4Life #39352 08/01/14 01:37 PM
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Re: Missing Hiker in Sequoia National Park
Maverick #39354 08/01/14 02:00 PM
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Link was met with a "you are not authorized to view this document" result.


The body betrays and the weather conspires, hopefully, not on the same day.
Re: Missing Hiker in Sequoia National Park
Bee #39355 08/01/14 02:26 PM
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Here's picture:

Dawson Johnson, missing on Mt Whitney, July 29, 2014



Sure is strange that he seems to have disappeared.

Re: Missing Hiker in Sequoia National Park
Steve C #39357 08/01/14 03:09 PM
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Re: Missing Hiker in Sequoia National Park
Steve C #39361 08/01/14 05:31 PM
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@jjoshuagregory (Instagram) for mainly landscape and mountain pics
Re: Missing Hiker in Sequoia National Park
Snacking Bear #39362 08/01/14 05:37 PM
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I am sorry for the loss to the family & friends.

Can someone talk about this area of the "North slope of Whitney" -- would this be the approach area of the Mountaineer's Route (easy walk-off summit arrival area?)


The body betrays and the weather conspires, hopefully, not on the same day.
Re: Missing Hiker in Sequoia National Park
Bee #39363 08/01/14 05:51 PM
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That's what they make it sound like...


@jjoshuagregory (Instagram) for mainly landscape and mountain pics
Re: Missing Hiker in Sequoia National Park
SEKI News #39364 08/01/14 06:48 PM
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Dear Steve C,

Hello My name is Jason Johnson..Dawson was my father. I came across this forum googling articles and trying to find out information about what happened. He and I grew apart over the years and this is the first picture I have seen of him in some time. I wanted to thank you for posting it. It means a great deal, it is something I am going to print out and hold on to dearly. I cant thank you enough.

I called the Investigator at Sequoia and he was helpful enough, but I guess I just didn't know enough about Whitney to ask the right questions. He was trying to tell me the spot where he fell off, but I just couldn't follow him. He said it was close to the summit hut. When I google pictures of the hut, I see a huge area of strewn rocks. Is there a dropoff nearby. Could altitude sickness force you to walk off the edge. Im very confused. If you could shed some light on where you think this area is that he fell, and any other information, I would greatly appreciate it. What are some of the reasons others have died. I asked the Investigator if anyone has every fell of this area before and he said never.

P.S. Like I said, we had grown apart over the last 10 years. If anyone has unsettled business with a family member, I beg you to make amends immediately.





Last edited by JJ5000; 08/01/14 06:49 PM.
Re: Missing Hiker in Sequoia National Park
Bee #39366 08/01/14 07:01 PM
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The north slope is very broadly the area from the summit down to the Arctic Lake drainage, west of the ridge between Whitney and Russell. SO, yes, generally beneath the walk-off and perhaps a half mile west of there.

Its a pretty wide area, as you can see



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Re: Missing Hiker in Sequoia National Park
JJ5000 #39367 08/01/14 07:01 PM
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Dear Jason,

I am sorry for your loss. I lost my father 4 mos ago, so I feel your pain.

There are many individuals on this board who are familiar with the area (Steve C was just in the area a couple of weeks ago) so like yourself, I would appreciate a primer on the area.


The body betrays and the weather conspires, hopefully, not on the same day.
Re: Missing Hiker in Sequoia National Park
SEKI News #39368 08/01/14 07:19 PM
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thanks saltydog. I will fwd that pic to the investigator and see if he will mark where they think he fell..for closure I reckon. Anyone that is familiar with Whitney and the dangers of climbing it, please chime in on something that you THINK could have happened. Could he have gone to edge for a better look and slipped? Im lookin for any remote ideas...or maybe something that has happened to someone else in the past. Im not finding much on the net about past fatalities other than most are due to lack of preparation.

Last edited by JJ5000; 08/01/14 07:21 PM.
Re: Missing Hiker in Sequoia National Park
JJ5000 #39370 08/01/14 08:30 PM
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Originally Posted By: JJ5000
please chime in on something that you THINK could have happened. Could he have gone to edge for a better look and slipped? Im lookin for any remote ideas...or maybe something that has happened to someone else in the past.


Jason, My deepest sympathies on your loss. I am far from familiar having only been once on the top, but when I was there, someone was standing on what appeared to be a rock outcropping (from my secure vantage point) trying to get a cell phone signal. Could he have been using a phone and trying to call his wife back down at Crabtree?

Re: Missing Hiker in Sequoia National Park
JJ5000 #39373 08/01/14 11:57 PM
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Jason, I am really sorry your dad passed this way. And so sorry, too, that you hadn't communicated with him for so long. If it is any consolation, he was out doing what he wanted to, and it appears, really enjoying life. How many other 75 year olds can do that?

As for the picture, it actually came from another website, High Sierra Topix, where it was reportedly first posted on a "California Peaks" Facebook page. You might join those groups/forums and try to get more info. Here is the link where I found the picture: Missing Hiker in Sequoia National Park

Sequoia National Park report he was found on the north slope, at 13,100' elevation. People practically never go to that side of the mountain, because it is treacherously steep. Unfortunately, from the top, it doesn't start out that way. This is purely my speculation, but a possible scenario is this: Dawson was tired after summiting, and looking at a map, may have thought he could take a shortcut off the north side of the mountain, and head down more quickly to his camp at Crabtree Meadow. The trail goes almost 2 miles south from the summit, then winds its way down past Guitar Lake and then wanders down to Crabtree Meadows. It is definitely a circuitous route, but that is what everyone uses to get down to Crabtree.

If Dawson committed to a north-side shortcut, he could have done ok descending the first 500 feet in elevation. But after that, it gets really steep, with bare rock. He may have attempted to down-climb that, and all it would take is one slip. In his state: tired, high altitude, low oxygen, making a tiny mistake, or even stepping on a loose rock, could lead to disaster. I am only guessing, but that may have been what happened. It was a tragedy, and I am very very sorry.

Now, for some reality: Contrary to what the dispatcher you spoke with knew, others have indeed died on that slope. It is more often due to their slipping or failing to control a slide in icy conditions, but it DOES occur on the north slope of Mt Whitney. You see, there is a "Mountaineers Route" that starts down from the top on the north side. However, after descending about 400 feet, the route turns abruptly eastward, and goes through "The Notch", and descends to Iceberg Lake, just east of the summit massif.

I know of one person who successfully ascended Mt Whitney via that side, and I know a guide book reports it can be done. I looked at going up that way two years ago, and stayed off of it because it looked too treacherous. At that time, I realized the fellow who HAD climbed it did it when the slope was covered with snow in spring, so he was able to use crampons and ice axe, which enable climbers to ascend extremely steep slopes. It is too steep to climb when the rock is bare.

Jason, I hope you get through these tough times ok. Please get together with your living family members, and pass along the sincerest condolences that I can assure you everyone here wants to offer.

May Dawson Johnson rest in peace.

Re: Missing Hiker in Sequoia National Park
Steve C #39375 08/02/14 12:25 AM
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Well stated.

Maybe someone has a photo of this area and could place one of those computer generated marks on it like what was done in the Mirror Lake Slab discussions?


The body betrays and the weather conspires, hopefully, not on the same day.
Re: Missing Hiker in Sequoia National Park
JJ5000 #39376 08/02/14 05:13 AM
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Jason, sincere condolences on your loss. You and your family are in our thoughts and prayers.

I admire your father for tackling big mountains at 75 YO - it speaks to a zest for life and a refusal to limit the type of challenges the vast majority of people his age would not even consider, let alone actively pursue.

Serious or fatal accidents on Mt. Whitney are discussed and debated on this board and others in the hope that an instructive lesson might possibly prevent another such accident. Unfortunately, these situations often occur when a hiker is alone and there are no witnesses, so it becomes educated speculation. I think Steve's scenario is about as good a hypothesis as the limited known facts of your father's case allow. He's the senior moderator of the Whitney Zone and was actually on the north slope a couple of weeks ago specifically to document in detail a traverse that board members had been inquiring about.

I hope you can find closure to this awful event. We're all family in the mountains, and we've lost one of our own to some degree as well. Rest in peace Dawson.

Re: Missing Hiker in Sequoia National Park
JJ5000 #39382 08/02/14 09:45 AM
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I am so so sorry for your loss. I can't begin to imagine how hard this is for your whole family. It's only natural to have limitless questions.

Whitney is not inherently dangerous. It's not technical. There's no boulder scrambling (at least on the section Dawson was on... Mountaineers route is much different from what I understand, but he wasn't hiking mountaineers route).
The dangers on Whitney are 1: not being prepared 2: wandering off the trail to find an "easier/more direct" route 3: altitude sickness 4: injury (of course)
I think as the investigators look more into this tragedy you may get more information. There's just no way to know how he fell. The guesses are just that... Guesses. He had to have been the last person on Summit that day, so unfortunately there probably won't ever be a definitive answer to "how".
My heart absolutely aches for you and your family.



Originally Posted By: JJ5000
thanks saltydog. I will fwd that pic to the investigator and see if he will mark where they think he fell..for closure I reckon. Anyone that is familiar with Whitney and the dangers of climbing it, please chime in on something that you THINK could have happened. Could he have gone to edge for a better look and slipped? Im lookin for any remote ideas...or maybe something that has happened to someone else in the past. Im not finding much on the net about past fatalities other than most are due to lack of preparation.

Re: Missing Hiker in Sequoia National Park
Snacking Bear #39384 08/02/14 10:57 AM
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Thank you for the cross-post!

Re: Missing Hiker in Sequoia National Park
Spice4Life #39385 08/02/14 11:11 AM
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Thank you for all the info. Dawson was my brother. Jason and I , both want to learn as much as possible

Re: Missing Hiker in Sequoia National Park
Steve C #39386 08/02/14 11:17 AM
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Thanks Steve c. This post clears up a lot of questions. Dawson was my brother. Just trying to make sense of it all. Thank you!

Re: Missing Hiker in Sequoia National Park
JJ5000 #39387 08/02/14 01:18 PM
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Jason, please accept my condolences for your loss. Steve's post expresses how we all feel better that I could have said it.

Steve's description of the North Slope is accurate. I just want to add a bit of information to what he said. My guidebooks rate it class 2-3 in difficulty (where 1 is walking on a trail and 5 is technical roped climbing). I climbed it in September 2002 on my way from Mt. Russell to Mt. Muir and back to Mt. Whitney. There are several black water stains on the rock in saltydog's photo, and I probably went up near or to the left of the leftmost water stain. There wasn't much snow, but I found a lot of loose rock. I thought the route I chose was more like class 3 and 4, though there are probably easier ways up. Much of that slope is rotten rock, making it fairly dangerous and unpleasant. As Steve said, a tiny mistake could lead to disaster.

Jason, you've invited us to say what we think could have happened, and I'm going to guess that fatigue and altitude led your dad to try a "shortcut" back to camp that didn't work out. I won't speculate on where your dad was found. The authorities can give you more accurate information than I can.

I wish you and your family well.

Re: Missing Hiker in Sequoia National Park
SEKI News #39392 08/02/14 08:43 PM
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Steve C, Bulldog34, Spice4life, bobpickering, tollermom...thank you for your condolences, well wishes and prayers. Thank each of you for the information you took the time to type about the mountain too. I have been trying to educate myself about Mt. Whitney, the various trails and their difficulties..all from my home far away in East Texas. You guys have been extremely helpful in my attempt to recreate what might have happened. I have so much confidence in yalls knowledge and expertise (just from reading your in-depth posts about the mount) that it has given me comfort at least knowing what probably happened instead of always wondering. Also, because of this site and all of yall that have been so helpful, I now have a copy of probably one of the last pictures taken of him. WOW! What a resource you all have been. This site as been more of a comfort to me than any other single thing since this has happened. There definitely seems to be a true brotherhood amongst backpackers.

Cant thank you guys enough.

Jason

Last edited by JJ5000; 08/02/14 08:54 PM.
Re: Missing Hiker in Sequoia National Park
JJ5000 #39405 08/03/14 11:52 AM
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There is more information on Mt. Whitney routes here.

Last edited by bobpickering; 08/03/14 11:55 AM.
Re: Missing Hiker in Sequoia National Park
Steve C #39406 08/03/14 03:37 PM
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Huh! old guys? How old is Old? I dont feel old! So make the rule on young! My condolences to the family!

Last edited by Krishna; 08/03/14 03:38 PM.
Re: Missing Hiker in Sequoia National Park
Bulldog34 #39414 08/04/14 08:18 AM
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Originally Posted By: Bulldog34
Jason, sincere condolences on your loss. You and your family are in our thoughts and prayers.

I admire your father for tackling big mountains at 75 YO - it speaks to a zest for life and a refusal to limit the type of challenges the vast majority of people his age would not even consider, let alone actively pursue.

Serious or fatal accidents on Mt. Whitney are discussed and debated on this board and others in the hope that an instructive lesson might possibly prevent another such accident. Unfortunately, these situations often occur when a hiker is alone and there are no witnesses, so it becomes educated speculation. I think Steve's scenario is about as good a hypothesis as the limited known facts of your father's case allow. He's the senior moderator of the Whitney Zone and was actually on the north slope a couple of weeks ago specifically to document in detail a traverse that board members had been inquiring about.

I hope you can find closure to this awful event. We're all family in the mountains, and we've lost one of our own to some degree as well. Rest in peace Dawson.


I don't know what can be learned from this...since I cannot get my head around where or how it occurred.

Is there a map available showing where this occurred?

I do know from personal experience bad things can happen when you are fatigued in the mountains.

Re: Missing Hiker in Sequoia National Park
wbtravis #39428 08/04/14 06:43 PM
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WB: You're a long time poster here, right? You've summitted once or twice? From the summit hut, go NW about 500 yards. That's where it happened.


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Re: Missing Hiker in Sequoia National Park
JJ5000 #39434 08/05/14 07:28 AM
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Thanks for the information about the mountain and the possible scenarios on what happened to Dawson. Dawson has been an extremely close friend of mine for nearly 30 years. Although I haven't seen him in a while, Jason is also a good friend.

Dawson was an extremely intelligent person as are Jason and his brother who have both posted here. 27 years ago, he hired me as an instructor and IT person at Texarkana College. We have worked together since.

He is a man of high moral values who expected the same of those around him. He also was a person who didn't buy into the usual view of how things were to be done. I didn't always agree with his ideas, but as he respected my views, I did his. He was a very good man and a great friend who will be greatly missed.

His physical condition was that of a much younger man. He was athletic. In the early to mid 90s, he and I, who both had quite a bit of basketball experience, played anyone who challenged us in 2 on 2 basketball. We never lost a game. We never turned down a challenge. We played kids who were much better than us. That shows his commitment to finish what he started.

Dawson was a pioneer in his field. He once told me to enjoy the real world, the computer world is not real. He was extremely happy about this hiking trip. A lot of people will miss him.

I hope that I haven't done wrong by posting this information here. I just wanted the folks here to know more about Jason's father and my good friend. Thank you for giving me an insight into what likely happened. Thank you for your kind responses and help for Jason.

Jason, I tried to return your call yesterday. I will call again today.

Re: Missing Hiker in Sequoia National Park
Jmac88 #39435 08/05/14 07:53 AM
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JMac, thanks so much for posting and sharing. Your comments are most certainly welcome. It sounds like Dawson was quite an outstanding friend and athlete.

I am sorry he's gone, and sorry for your loss, too.

Re: Missing Hiker in Sequoia National Park
wbtravis #39436 08/05/14 08:13 AM
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Originally Posted By: wbtravis
I don't know what can be learned from this...since I cannot get my head around where or how it occurred.

Is there a map available showing where this occurred?

I do know from personal experience bad things can happen when you are fatigued in the mountains.


My takeaway is that anywhere along the north slope of Whitney requires caution, even in dry summer conditions. I know very, very few people ever head here, outside the Final 400 on the Mountaineer's Route and/or the Easy Walk-off, but if I ever had the urge to do something in this area outside of those two, Dawson's experience would spring to mind immediately.

The only good reason I can see to be on this slope would be the Muir-Whitney-Russell-Carillon traverse. Below is a snippet from a TR on SummitPost that might be helpful in understanding what happened with Dawson.

"The north slope descent was much more difficult than expected, steep and loose, with intermittent cliff bands and polished slabs. Patient route finding kept the difficulty in the 3rd-4th class range. There were many relicts of past rappels left on the slope, we found a servicable #2 Camalot, and an old ring piton, along with many rotten slings. The descent to the base and the subsequent crossing of the basin to the base of the South Face of Mt. Russell consumed an additional hour and fifteen minutes."

Whatever his reason for being on it, descending the north slope of Whitney appears to be serious business. If I'm traveling unroped on a slope that has clear indications of Class 5 use, I'm rethinking my route really, really hard. We'll never know if he failed to appreciate the terrain, didn't notice the old abandoned pro, got ledged out, slipped on loose scree/talus, was in the dark - whatever. So many possibilities and combinations. There's not a lot of difference between a wet polished granite slab and ice. The exact location of his recovery might help unravel some of the mystery, but probably not much.


Last edited by Bulldog34; 08/05/14 08:45 AM.
Re: Missing Hiker in Sequoia National Park
Bulldog34 #39437 08/05/14 08:41 AM
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Now, I have the picture I needed. The question that will remain unanswered is the why. I understand this is a "shortcut" but if you are fatigued the last place you want to be going through an unknown class area.

These "shortcuts" for the most part are more fatiguing and take longer...that has been my experience over the years.

I am assuming Mr. Johnson has enough experience to recognize this.

Re: Missing Hiker in Sequoia National Park
wbtravis #39438 08/05/14 08:51 AM
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Tired, hungry, impending darkness & and an anxious family member awaiting word

These are not conditions that promote normal, rational people to make normal rational decisions -- it does not apply.

TO the family of Dawson: consider this thread as an honor to his memory, and feel free to share whatever information, memories, etc. you would like.


The body betrays and the weather conspires, hopefully, not on the same day.
Re: Missing Hiker in Sequoia National Park
wbtravis #39440 08/05/14 09:02 AM
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Given that there's just no logical reason for someone camped at Crabtree to be on that slope, other than attempting a descent shortcut, that's the reason I think the scenario Steve offered is probably the most likely. If John Lively's fall a few weeks back was for the reason the INFS believes, both summer fatalities on Whitney this year could be due to attempting to shortcut the trail.

I've taken some spontaneous shortcuts and been happy with the result, and I've taken others that left me wondering what in the hell I could have possibly been thinking. Either way, ascending or descending, it's almost always steeper and more intense work than staying on whatever established route.

Fatigue, hypoxia, impending darkness - I'm afraid we'll never know the "why".

And, regarding the TR quote I posted above on the north slope, I just want to point out that this was an experienced climber and mountaineer who had to exercise patient route-finding just to keep the descent in do-able 3rd/4th-class range. To me, this speaks volumes about the danger of that slope.

Re: Missing Hiker in Sequoia National Park
Bee #39441 08/05/14 09:04 AM
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Bee,

Maybe it is me. I just do not consider family waiting when I make these decisions. Better I get back late safe and sound than lying in some drainage or hunkered down behind a block waiting to be rescued or waiting for first light to figure things out.

I have made enough mistakes to know these routes are more time consuming than a well worn trails. Plus, I just don't do new things without someone I trust with me.

Last edited by wbtravis; 08/05/14 09:04 AM.
Re: Missing Hiker in Sequoia National Park
wbtravis #39443 08/05/14 09:38 AM
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WB,

You are most fortunate.

I will have to place myself in the category of only semi-fortunate, because I survived one of those end-of-day "decisions".

I decided that skiing off a cliff was quicker than using the designated run -- bad, bad idea. I was lucky to be dragged off with only a few broken bones.

Everyone is different; every body reacts differently when placed under multiple stress.


The body betrays and the weather conspires, hopefully, not on the same day.
Re: Missing Hiker in Sequoia National Park
Jmac88 #39444 08/05/14 09:46 AM
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To the friends and family of Dawson, my sympathy and condolences.

I appreciate that for many in your situation, the prime mover is a drive to understand what could have happened, in an attempt to find closure.

Speaking as a physician with expertise in high altitude medical issues, there some things that jumped out at me, that we know for sure.

We know that Dawson was last seen at about 3pm, on the last two miles of trail to the summit. We now know that he was headed up, since he was found on the other side of the peak. He attempted to send a message down that he was later than he thought he'd be.

He was very very late in getting to the top. Probably at least 4 hours behind when he should have summitted. This says to me that he was moving very slowly, and was impaired in some way.

We know that he was not wearing a pack (by report). This means that the amount of water that he could have had was very limited. There are no places to get more water on the hike, once above guitar lake tarns (lakelets), so he would have been doing a very dry hike with minimal water. The atmosphere at this altitude is exceedingly dry---it sucks water right out of you.

With no pack, he probably had no sunscreen for reapplication. The sun is very intense up there. If you sunburn in an hour at sea level, you burn in 11 minutes on the summit. This is often not appreciated. This leads to increased water requirements.

Finally, there is the issue of altitude. Although approaching from the west, he had much more opportunity for acclimatization, than from the east, unless a person has considerable experience at 14,000 feet and above, it is surprising to most how it effects the body, and particularly the brain. There is 1/3 less oxygen at this elevation, and it COMMONLY causes problems with thinking and reasoning.

But one more relevant factor is his age. This is something none of us can escape. There is an illusion that is created by a person who is older, but very fit.....which is that they perceive that their physiology is that of a younger person, when it is not. An older person is more susceptible to the above factors, but their conditioning allows them to "push through" the difficulties---to their own detriment.

I seriously doubt that Dawson was thinking in terms of a shortcut, although that is possible. The trail runs over in the general direction of that side of the mountain, and he may simply have gotten off and continued where he thought it went. We don't know if he got to the top. Perhaps he signed the register, perhaps not. He may have sat on the top for a considerable amount of time, but got turned around in terms of where to go. He may have had in mind "follow the sun", knowing his camp was east of the peak. We'll never know.

I suspect that his severe lateness involved several of these medical issues, taken together. Each problem tends to make the others worse, and when imposed on a older person, can really add up.

Re: Recovered: Missing Hiker in Sequoia National Park
SEKI News #39445 08/05/14 01:27 PM
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Here are 2 pictures that have the coordinates of where my father was found should they be of any interest to anyone. These were sent from the guys at Sequoia who have been very helpful as well.

You will prob have to save and then zoom in.

SteveC edit: Changed to viewable pictures. Click on pic for original size.





Last edited by Steve C; 08/05/14 06:54 PM. Reason: update pictures
Re: Recovered: Missing Hiker in Sequoia National Park
JJ5000 #39449 08/05/14 06:57 PM
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Here is the Gmap4 / satellite view of the same location.
Note that Lat/Long N36 34.905, W118 17.805 converts to: 36.58175, -118.29675

      Gmap4 Link

With the Gmap4 app, you can zoom out, or switch to topographic view (only it zooms out quite a bit). And you can click and drag around on the map to see the surrounding area.

A map/satellite view of the summit area has been added to the "Easy Walk Off" thread. It shows the routes people normally use when climbing/descending Mt Whitney.

Last edited by Steve C; 08/05/14 10:06 PM.
Re: Recovered: Missing Hiker in Sequoia National Park
JJ5000 #39450 08/05/14 07:16 PM
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Jason, I believe that your pictures contain a clue.

However, it is very helpful to look at a better resolution picture of the area shown in picture 2:

https://www.google.com/maps/@36.5782229,-118.2963799,168m/data=!3m1!1e3

This is a "google maps" picture, which can be zoomed without loss of resolution.

What is shows is that the Main Mt Whitney Trail, (marked on this picture as "John Muir Trail"--which is correct), is located very near to the north side of the summit plateau, quite close to "the easy walk off" route along the north side, and which can be seen in the photo.

A comparison with the "photo 2" which marks the site of recovery reveals that the site is almost exactly below the sharp turn in the trail. It is a very sharp turn....almost 180 degrees, which would suggest to me a switchback. A very common error that hikers make, is to not realize they are at a switchback, and to continue on in a straight line. This is especially true going downhill. If he did that in confusion and partial light (he would be looking into the sun), it would take him to the edge of the north escarpment, where it would be easy to slip and fall.

If there is the evidence of him signing the summit register, then his fall would have been heading down, and I'm very suspicious that this describes his actions. It is possible that it could have happened on the way up, also, but I think that it would have been much more likely on the way down.

Amazingly, I believe that the videos that Steve C shot last week of that area of the mountain almost certainly contains the terrain in question. I believe that it would be in video number 7/8 in this thread:

http://www.whitneyzone.com/wz/ubbthreads.php/topics/39194/Whitney_Mountaineers_Route_Eas#Post39194

I was particularly struck by Steve's commentary in video 8 in which he comments "I sure wouldn't want to be doing this with a full pack".

Re: Recovered: Missing Hiker in Sequoia National Park
Ken #39453 08/05/14 10:14 PM
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I have added Steve C's fabulous compilation of how the various trails come together on the summit. I personally found this very helpful in acquainting myself with the area



The body betrays and the weather conspires, hopefully, not on the same day.
Re: Recovered: Missing Hiker in Sequoia National Park
SEKI News #39457 08/06/14 07:37 AM
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fascinating videos and photos...really shows the enormity of the mountain, and the enormity of the situation.

Re: Missing Hiker in Sequoia National Park
Bee #39458 08/06/14 09:20 AM
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Bee,

I've made mistakes that have caused long term injuries. That is just a part of this game. Some have been pure stupidity on my part, some just bad breaks. All with someone around. An extra brain or two around is a big deal.

Experience is suppose to teach us the risk reward equation. Sometimes we just brain cramp...I did it a few years ago glissading off Baden-Powell on too thin snow, in almost the same exact spot I severely sprained an ankle about 10 years prior doing a glissade with crampons on.

Re: Recovered: Missing Hiker in Sequoia National Park
JJ5000 #39466 08/06/14 01:10 PM
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JJ5000 - I was very saddened to hear of your loss.

Thank you for sharing the information you received regarding your father. It is very helpful for our community to learn about these type of events when they happen.

Not sure if this helps or not, but here is another image with contour lines showing the steepness of the terrain:

Re: Recovered: Missing Hiker in Sequoia National Park
JJ5000 #39467 08/06/14 01:11 PM
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Jason, the first photo tells us a lot. Dawson was found in the right hand area described here as class 4-5. We'll never know for sure what happened, but this is consistent with the speculation that he was looking for a shortcut back to camp. The photo you posted is taken straight on, and it makes the slope look much steeper than it is. While it's not trivial, that slope is nowhere near vertical, especially at the top. I'm confident that he was trying to climb down, and that he didn't just walk to the edge and fall off.

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