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#48822 - 11/24/16 08:08 AM Re: Fallen Hiker on Monday 10-17-16 [Re: SierraNevada]
wbtravis Offline


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

1 in 34,000 death bring on a do something, do anything response many here. What search and rescue did was temporary and meant to be just that. There were many such responses on Mt. Baldy, still people died and people got lost. My guess is the lost is down with the addition of the signage but the deaths will be back this coming winter when the willfully ignorant return with their Microspikes and trekking poles.

Your response is to do something outside the rules and regs, which by definition is a non-permanent response. Why don'cha call the rec. officer for the Inyo and do this the right way? I know all the forests love what their volunteers do for them.

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#48823 - 11/24/16 08:55 AM Re: Fallen Hiker on Monday 10-17-16 [Re: wbtravis]
Mescalito345 Offline


Registered: 02/14/12
Posts: 24
Loc: Las Vegas, NV
Iíve been on the Whitney main trail about 15 times, and have occasionally lost the trail near Mirror Lake. But the terrain is pretty mellow there, so Iím not understanding how a long fall is likely. Iím sure that there some drop-offs a few hundred feet away, but it seems like they would be easy to avoid, even in the dark.

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#48825 - 11/24/16 09:28 AM Re: Fallen Hiker on Monday 10-17-16 [Re: wbtravis]
SierraNevada Offline


Registered: 09/05/11
Posts: 1145
Loc: NorCal
Originally Posted By: wbtravis
Your response is to do something outside the rules and regs, which by definition is a non-permanent response... Why don'cha call the rec. officer for the Inyo and do this the right way? I know all the forests love what their volunteers do for them.

The original poster has already contacted Inyo with a letter. Steve called them also. Its assumed they would be informed and fine with this. We're not talking brick and mortar permanent, its just piling more rocks on top of what the SAR team already started.

Using social media to crowd source the manual labor seems like a good approach, but if a volunteer group takes it on, that's even better. Despite all the "dumb hiker" stories on this thread, I think there are plenty of hikers capable and willing to pitch in, if they were just aware of it.

This thread has turned into a big "no can do" "hikers are stupid" bummer. I hope the families and friends of anyone who perished at that spot never reads it.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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#48831 - 11/24/16 09:27 PM Re: Fallen Hiker on Monday 10-17-16 [Re: SierraNevada]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7742
Loc: Fresno, CA
I used Google Earth to try to find the spot.


Here's the image from G.E., I marked the zig zag with the x pointer. The other pointer is the location of the dot on the topo map I found related to John Likely's search.
Click the map to see the full-size:


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#48834 - 11/25/16 06:33 AM Re: Fallen Hiker on Monday 10-17-16 [Re: IncredibleHuck]
RichardK Offline


Registered: 11/06/09
Posts: 96
Loc: East Coast Florida
According to Doug on 11/21

Quote:
Sunday night it started raining in the Valley , snow level was down to about 6500' so the upper elevations got hit. This storm most likely closed the season for day hikes and for sure full winter mountaineering skills , well for a safe trip anyway.


The section where people want a rock wall is now under snow and cannot be reached without winter hiking abilities. That means the earliest that random volunteers can build a wall is next June. By then, no one will remember this thread or the incident. I mean no disrespect for the departed. It's just human nature, today's emergency is tomorrow's ancient history.

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#48835 - 11/25/16 08:37 AM Re: Fallen Hiker on Monday 10-17-16 [Re: RichardK]
SierraNevada Offline


Registered: 09/05/11
Posts: 1145
Loc: NorCal
You're right, this thread will be buried on page 12 soon, but Steve could "stick" a longterm thread that stays near the top like some other important threads. Any attempt to motivate volunteers for any project requires an on-going information campaign of some sort. It would help if the folks at the store were supportive, maybe post a flyer.

Now if people dropped off their full wag bags instead of rocks, heck, there would be a huge wall there in no time. grin
[Do I really have to declare that I'm kidding? I guess I do, and I am.]

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#48837 - 11/25/16 09:24 AM Re: Fallen Hiker on Monday 10-17-16 [Re: SierraNevada]
SierraNevada Offline


Registered: 09/05/11
Posts: 1145
Loc: NorCal
Here's another Google Earth view, this one on the descent. I see two switchbacks of concern right in this area. I've outlined a portion of the trail where it gets very faint.


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#48839 - 11/27/16 09:32 AM Re: Fallen Hiker on Monday 10-17-16 [Re: SierraNevada]
wbtravis Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1253
Loc: Corner of Jack Benny and Roche...
Originally Posted By: SierraNevada
[quote=wbtravis]
Using social media to crowd source the manual labor seems like a good approach, but if a volunteer group takes it on, that's even better. Despite all the "dumb hiker" stories on this thread, I think there are plenty of hikers capable and willing to pitch in, if they were just aware of it.

This thread has turned into a big "no can do" "hikers are stupid" bummer. I hope the families and friends of anyone who perished at that spot never reads it.

Happy Thanksgiving.


"No can do." Actually, all I have said is do it right. Not no can do. Based on your words, I would say I am a lot more involved in hiker safety than you. I have doing passively for years, actively for the last four years. The only thing that has a chance of working is education. The Wilderness Act of 1964 comes into play here as does the fact this is a sparsely populated area. You cannot get critical mass for a volunteer group. Nothing is going to happen here without an organized volunteer group and under the auspices of the Forest Service.

I don't write for the families. I write for those who pass this way in the future. What is past is past. Learn from it, talk about. Keep it pertinent. So the next group of hikers who go up there know about Powell and Likely. Do you know about Lopez? Nguyen? Goodman? I use these names all the time because I don't want people to end up in the hospital or cemetery.

"Hikers are stupid"...actually to a great extent the meetup/modern hiker are but that is at best a tangential issue.

People willing to pitch in, that is something that I have not found in evidence. They willing to put a few rocks up...maybe. They are not willing to do the heavy lifting. Getting qualified by FS to use a pry bar and other tools required do something permanent within parameters of Wilderness Act that is doing something. Phone calls to a RSO shows very little.

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#48840 - 11/27/16 09:57 AM Re: Fallen Hiker on Monday 10-17-16 [Re: wbtravis]
Mescalito345 Offline


Registered: 02/14/12
Posts: 24
Loc: Las Vegas, NV
wbtravis: I agree, itís important to learn from the mistakes made by others. Too often, the details about hiking and climbing accidents are kept secret. I usually go hiking or climbing 7 or 8 times a month. If eventually I have some type of accident, Iíd want others to know exactly what type of mistakes I made.

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#48842 - 11/27/16 10:23 AM Re: Fallen Hiker on Monday 10-17-16 [Re: Mescalito345]
Hobbes Offline


Registered: 03/28/14
Posts: 137
Loc: The OC
The last two times I've been on the main trail have been in snow. On the earlier hike, the snow was only holding in the Consultation drainage. However, the latter was a spring ascent - I ended up turning around after climbing the Chute.

Anyway, it began to snow during my descent on the earlier occasion, and having missed the trail in the section being discussed, I decided to backtrack and downclimb to Consultation. I then just post-holed and slid down to Trailside meadow and continued on the (clear) trail.

For the spring ascent, I didn't even follow the trail above LP lake. People had been attempting summits the previous week, so there were boot tracks to follow. When the snow level if high enough - maybe 3-4', it's easier to just follow the Consultation drainage and forgo that faint part of the trail altogether.



PS There was a party of 6 that arrived at Trail camp later in the day that didn't bother to try and summit the next day. I ran into them @ Outpost while they were drying their gear. Turns out during their descent, they missed the cut-over to Mirror altogether and descended via the waterfall to Outpost. They were happy to be back on level terrain!

Snow conditions are weird - they are both more dangerous, yet also provide some buffer - like descending next to a waterfall - because the talus is buried and you can crawl down on top of the snow.

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#48844 - 11/27/16 01:34 PM Re: Fallen Hiker on Monday 10-17-16 [Re: wbtravis]
SierraNevada Offline


Registered: 09/05/11
Posts: 1145
Loc: NorCal
WB, I admit, you do seem to run into a lot more dumb hikers than I do, but then again I hike mostly in Northern California. We don't have much graffiti or broken window glass at our trailheads either. I lived in Wrightwood near Baldy for a year and San Diego for 15 years, so I think I can speak fairly to the differences in hiker intelligence between SoCal to NorCal, as a general observation of course.

Getting the word out about this location serves as an information campaign - making people aware of past accidents there, and also a chance for people to grab a hand-size rock or two on the way up from Trailside Meadow or on the way down. Minor trail work, well within the Wilderness Act. This situation happens all over the wilderness where a trail is on solid granite and easy to lose. The common solution is to erect cairns (ducks) or line the trail with small rocks. Or perhaps build a small guidewall.

Looking at the Google Earth shots, it appears that a small line of rocks on each side of the trail would do well to guide hikers through this section over solid granite. I even see a small borrow area just below the second switchback where hikers could pick up a small rock or two.

Lastly, again, any plan would be cleared with Inyo. We're just talking hypothetically at this point. If we can't get over the "no can do" stuff, than nothing happens, as usual.

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#48846 - 11/28/16 07:10 AM Re: Fallen Hiker on Monday 10-17-16 [Re: SierraNevada]
wbtravis Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1253
Loc: Corner of Jack Benny and Roche...
NoCal has the same problems we do, unfortunately, according to an article I read last week out of El Dorado County. The one major difference is their more people lost up north, most likely because of we have more people on our trails keeping people with pictures of the message boards as map found.

Lasting solutions take thought and time. The location makes things difficult because there are not a lot of people there. What I would suggest to those who want something longer last is to contact the Inyo's Volunteer Coordinator and Recreation Officer. In the interim, pound into people's head that this is a dangerous area after dark, just like we pound into people's head that the chute should only be done by those with ice axe, crampons and basic snow skills. We do this in SoCal and people get hurt in the same places every year there doing the same things. However, it does get through to some. That is what this and Doug's board should be about.

Tangentially, after God knows how many news articles, clarion sirens blasting on the local news and eight new signs on Mt. Baldy. 5 people still got rescued on Mt. Baldy over the weekend...one seriously injured and one had a near death experience. Still Sunday night people wanted to use there brand new state of the art mountaineering gear to them...Microspikes, on this mountain for the first time. It you think a line of rock is going to make much of a difference above Mirror Lake, I got this bridge in San Pedro that needs selling.

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#48847 - 11/28/16 07:37 AM Re: Fallen Hiker on Monday 10-17-16 [Re: wbtravis]
Bob West Offline


Registered: 11/13/09
Posts: 828
Loc: Bishop, CA, USA
I agree; no matter what aids are provided hikers, stupid mistakes will still be made.

As far as the idea of adding rocks to the areas in question... Any trail work must be left to the professionals of the USFS. Just piling up rocks, with individuals added their little bit, will create another hazard: rock-fall on those on the trail below. Don't do it! Posters here who are encouraging that are just creating problems - knock it off!

Folks need to take their concerns to the USFS and let them decided how and if to improve the trail. Their crews know best; not wanabe trail builders.

If any trail makes people nervous, they shouldn't go there. Mt. Whitney is not Disneyland. Get over it.


Edited by Bob West (11/28/16 07:38 AM)

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#48852 - 11/29/16 07:23 AM Re: Fallen Hiker on Monday 10-17-16 [Re: Bob West]
SierraNevada Offline


Registered: 09/05/11
Posts: 1145
Loc: NorCal
Well, I too am done trying to discuss solutions here. One by one everyone trying to organize a response to this trail defect has given up to the relentless "no can do" responses.

Hopefully Inyo will respond to the letter and phone calls discussed in this thread and build on the rock piles started by the Search and Rescue Team. I believe something will get built here some day to fix this trail defect, the only question is when and how many more times SAR will have to come back to this spot.

As for hiker education, its always a good thing, but it doesn't help people from losing a faint trail switching back over solid granite with no markers. It can happen to anyone. BTW, many of these "dumb hiker" stories might mean well, but in general its not very effective to mock people when teaching them.

Lastly, there are rocks lining both sides of the trail about 100 ft downhill from this spot, as seen in Google Earth. There are plenty of rocks in that area just below the dangerous spot leading over the cliff. That's all we're talking here folks. A simple trail improvement as seen all over the wilderness, even 100 ft away. But let's just leave it to the experts to carry a rock 100 ft and place it along the solid granite trail where there are no rocks available.

Peace out.

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#48854 - 11/29/16 07:59 AM Re: Fallen Hiker on Monday 10-17-16 [Re: Mescalito345]
SierraNevada Offline


Registered: 09/05/11
Posts: 1145
Loc: NorCal
Originally Posted By: Mescalito345
Iíve been on the Whitney main trail about 15 times, and have occasionally lost the trail near Mirror Lake. But the terrain is pretty mellow there, so Iím not understanding how a long fall is likely. Iím sure that there some drop-offs a few hundred feet away, but it seems like they would be easy to avoid, even in the dark.

This aerial might help explain the problem in this area above Mirror Lake. The cliff has a chute that someone might attempt. Combine this with the more distant views and a map to complete the picture.

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#48855 - 11/29/16 08:19 AM Re: Fallen Hiker on Monday 10-17-16 [Re: SierraNevada]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7742
Loc: Fresno, CA
SN: Nice Google Earth work!
- - - - - -

So, William, since you have posted so many times, if I get the volunteer trip set up, will you come along?

I can hardly believe the incredible negative attitude -- no wonder people you talk to ignore everything and push on. Telling people they are "dumb noobs" is a sure fire way to convince them to ignore you.

Let's see what we can do for late June or early July.

- - - - -

Seriously, I am blown away by the lack of logic used here. All we need a row of rocks as shown in the G.E. picture above at just two turns. Amazing that violations of the Wilderness Act is even mentioned. Hiker education does NOT help the hapless hiker who is trying to get off the mountain after falling behind schedule and wandering down the trail in the dark. But a row of boulders sure would.

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#48856 - 11/29/16 08:32 AM Re: Fallen Hiker on Monday 10-17-16 [Re: Steve C]
Bob West Offline


Registered: 11/13/09
Posts: 828
Loc: Bishop, CA, USA
There are many places on Eastern Sierra trails where it is possible to get lost. I've been temporarily lost more than once on supposedly easy trails when I was in too big of a hurry. There are so many vague trail spots in the Eastern Sierra, that it would probably take several life-times of work to "make them safe".

It will be interesting to see if your and SNs efforts come to anything. Keep us informed, will you?

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#48858 - 11/29/16 09:52 AM Re: Fallen Hiker on Monday 10-17-16 [Re: Steve C]
Snacking Bear Offline


Registered: 08/09/11
Posts: 500
Loc: Nashville, TN
Let me know when you are thinking. I would like to help.

A weekend or two of work is worth possibly helping a helpless OR "stupid" hiker stay safe. Deaths avoided are far harder to quantify over lives lost. Still, I wouldn't be mad at a day out in the mountains, getting my hands dirty.
_________________________
@jjoshuagregory (Twitter & Instagram) for landscape and mountain photo spamming...

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#48860 - 11/29/16 10:23 AM Re: Fallen Hiker on Monday 10-17-16 [Re: Snacking Bear]
Mescalito345 Offline


Registered: 02/14/12
Posts: 24
Loc: Las Vegas, NV
SierraNevada: thanks for the aerial photo. I agree that a few extra cairns in that area would probably be useful.

But my main question is the part about ďdeadly cliffĒ. It seems like if you reached a place like that at night, it would make sense to turn around. In October 2013 on the Mountaineerís Route, I missed a switchback in the dark, while hiking alone. Eventually I found myself on a very narrow ledge, with a long drop-off. So I made a U-turn, and found the correct route.

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#48864 - 11/29/16 02:07 PM Re: Fallen Hiker on Monday 10-17-16 [Re: Mescalito345]
Hobbes Offline


Registered: 03/28/14
Posts: 137
Loc: The OC
Originally Posted By: Mescalito345
I found myself on a very narrow ledge, with a long drop-off. So I made a U-turn, and found the correct route.


Because you were still thinking rationally. Introduce even the slightest hint of panic - racing thoughts like: it's getting dark, I'm cold, my friends/parents/kids will be worried, etc - sets into motion a whole different level of reaction(s), most of which most would not be classified as 'calm'.

In the vignette I shared above, I'll admit I had around 10 seconds of 'what should I do'? I'll repeat - I'd been out for 4 days hiking from Kearsarge, I wanted out, and it was beginning to snow. But, because I've been up there a number of times before, I knew in general where I was ie the trail drops down to Trailside meadow, so I had no problem backtracking knowing that the Consulation drainage would get me to the same place.

I don't know if anyone from this board saw this TR from last spring (http://www.highsierratopix.com/community/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=14472), but there was a moment where I lost the trail (ie boot tracks) for around 5-10 minutes below Muir pass.

Finally, I reached a ledge where I could see boot tracks way down below. For around 5-10 seconds, I was tempted to downclimb the cliffy area (made easier by the snow), rather than hike back up for 5-10 minutes in deep post-hole conditions to regain the point where I should have turned.

However, because I've been in these kinds of situations before, I just had to relax, laugh at myself, and begin trudging back. But, if you take someone who is placed in this kind of situation for the first time, and take into consideration basic human nature, then the annual death tolls (including one just a few days ago) begin to make more sense.


Edited by Hobbes (11/29/16 02:09 PM)

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