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#54059 - 08/09/18 04:51 PM Whitney Has Turned into a Overcrowed Catastrophe
wagga Offline


Registered: 10/07/09
Posts: 2243
Loc: Humbug Reach (Pop. 3)
"Summit fever, a lack of mountaineering skills, and the allure of social media are leading to serious accidents on the lower 48's highest peak. Can anything be done to stop the injuries and deaths?"

This article in Outside mentions our favourite site, even referencing the "How not to die on Whitney" ethos.
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#54060 - 08/09/18 05:38 PM Re: Whitney Has Turned into a Overcrowed Catastrophe [Re: wagga]
Harvey Lankford Offline


Registered: 11/10/09
Posts: 1012
Loc: Richmond, Virginia
Okay, I'll bite, for the fun of discussion.

Theatrical Title of Outside article:
Whitney Has Turned Into an Overcrowded Catastrophe

"Turned into an overcrowded" -
-well not turned into, has been for some time.
Same for Half Dome, and many popular small and large peaks in both the East and the West.

"Catastrophe"
- no, think of the hundreds and hundred of good stories.
Yes, there are, sadly, injuries and deaths, but it is probably safer than living in Chicago. The author happened to be there on a bad day with dangerous conditions and unprepared or inexperienced people. This is not new.

Is there objective proof of this catastrophe? Here is a quote from the article

"the public information officer at the Inyo County Search and Rescue office that serves Whitney, told me that accident rates jump up and down. Over the past five years, they’ve performed between six and 20 rescues a year within the Whitney Basin," i.e. it varies widely.

Are these rescues actually more than there were 50 years ago. Is there any solution?
Education/experience requirement versus restricting access, or both. But Park Service does not have capacity to do the former, only the latter.

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#54062 - 08/09/18 09:59 PM Re: Whitney Has Turned into a Overcrowed Catastrophe [Re: Harvey Lankford]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7556
Loc: Fresno, CA
Well, at least the author linked to WhitneyZone.

She picked the worst day in the last 20 years as her day to climb. Except for a day with a fatality, this was definitely the worst accident, considering the number of people sliding out of control. Fortunately all the people she saw have recovered (I am assuming that.)

The other issue is that the accident occurred pretty early in the morning -- before temperatures rose to make the snow less icy. People got up high too early, and found dangerous conditions for anyone without crampons.

My recent Shasta climb was a good example. I (unfortunately) took the ranger's advice, and left Helen Lake at 4 AM (too early). That put me on the summit by 9, starting down at 10. Temps, just like on Whitney that day in June, were so cold the snow was too icy to glissade comfortably. It was hell trying to use my ice axe to keep the descent under control. An hour later would have been better, 2 hours even more.

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#54064 - 08/10/18 06:16 AM Re: Whitney Has Turned into a Overcrowed Catastrophe [Re: wagga]
RichardK Offline


Registered: 11/06/09
Posts: 91
Loc: East Coast Florida
Put up some signs similar to these at the trailhead.


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#54066 - 08/10/18 07:54 AM Re: Whitney Has Turned into a Overcrowed Catastrophe [Re: RichardK]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7556
Loc: Fresno, CA
There used to be a sign on the board at the trailhead:
"People die here!"

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#54070 - 08/10/18 11:59 AM Re: Whitney Has Turned into a Overcrowed Catastrophe [Re: Steve C]
Wedggy Offline


Registered: 07/12/18
Posts: 3
Loc: 91387
On the summit yesterday a girl had taken off her pack and was going thru it on top of the summit register as I was going to sign it. I told her to go ahead and do what she needed to do and in a couple minutes there's a line to get at the register and she is pretty much starting to set up a picnic on top of it. I tell her I need to get going and there's 3 other people who want to sign it too, she gets all huffy like we are inconveniencing her, grabs her stuff and says "WHATEVER".
That's the kind of stuff I don't like but unfortunately seems to be on the rise.

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#54071 - 08/10/18 01:29 PM Re: Whitney Has Turned into a Overcrowed Catastrophe [Re: Wedggy]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7556
Loc: Fresno, CA
Originally Posted By: Wedggy
she gets all huffy like we are inconveniencing her, grabs her stuff and says "WHATEVER".

grin LOL

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#54074 - 08/11/18 05:05 PM Re: Whitney Has Turned into a Overcrowed Catastrophe [Re: Steve C]
+ @ti2d Offline


Registered: 10/22/09
Posts: 830
Loc: Oh Cursed, USA
Must have been a vallee girrl...Like you knowww???

I would have performed my magic trick...

Ladies and Gentlemen...I will now attempt to yank the table cloth off of the summit register WITHOUT pulling off the picnic ware on top...

One...two...three...

Oops.

Oh well...

Whateverrrrr!!!
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#54075 - 08/11/18 05:07 PM Re: Whitney Has Turned into a Overcrowed Catastrophe [Re: RichardK]
+ @ti2d Offline


Registered: 10/22/09
Posts: 830
Loc: Oh Cursed, USA
Some people just don't read...

Cool Hand Luke...

"What we got here is failure to communicate..."
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#54077 - 08/12/18 08:38 AM Re: Whitney Has Turned into a Overcrowed Catastrophe [Re: Wedggy]
bobpickering Offline


Registered: 02/07/10
Posts: 351
Loc: Reno, Nevada
I’ve been climbing fairly remote peaks this year. In each case, I’ve been the first, second, or third party in 2018 to sign the register (if there was one).

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#54089 - 08/15/18 06:47 AM Re: Whitney Has Turned into a Overcrowed Catastrophe [Re: bobpickering]
KevinR Offline


Registered: 11/03/09
Posts: 591
Loc: Manchester, NH
The article in "Outside" is a great example of "look who's calling the kettle black".

I stopped reading that publication years ago. They sell magazines by hyping extreme sports. Way too many jocks and jockettes out there. Testosterone poisoning has its downside.

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#54092 - 08/16/18 04:08 AM Re: Whitney Has Turned into a Overcrowed Catastrophe [Re: KevinR]
wagga Offline


Registered: 10/07/09
Posts: 2243
Loc: Humbug Reach (Pop. 3)
Your original poster put this up because of the WZ reference. And some hope that this would stimulate some discussion.

In other news, online magazines desperately resort to clickbait to generate revenue...
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#54093 - 08/16/18 07:46 AM Re: Whitney Has Turned into a Overcrowed Catastrophe [Re: wagga]
SierraNevada Offline


Registered: 09/05/11
Posts: 1134
Loc: NorCal
Thanks for sharing, Wagga. I think the article is good overall, and not just about Whitney. This is a human nature problem that never goes away. A little sensationalism is not all bad when you're trying to alert people.

Steve, I added a link to this article in our Feature Topic "Links: Safe Mountaineering" The link might expire someday, but it seems to fit under "Accidents Happen, Learn from Them" The article refers to that post.


Edited by SierraNevada (08/16/18 07:52 AM)

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#54104 - 08/17/18 10:15 AM Re: Whitney Has Turned into a Overcrowed Catastrophe [Re: SierraNevada]
bruce Offline


Registered: 09/27/13
Posts: 92
Loc: Novato, CA
I don't see Whitney any different than I did 25 years ago. Still have quotas so the trail is not getting more crowded. The people now, at least to me, seem even friendlier than they use to.

Is there any data to support that more accidents/deaths occur now on the mountain then in years past? If not, then I agree this article is clickbait.


Edited by bruce (08/17/18 10:15 AM)

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#54120 - 08/22/18 06:43 PM Re: Whitney Has Turned into a Overcrowed Catastrophe [Re: bruce]
SierraNevada Offline


Registered: 09/05/11
Posts: 1134
Loc: NorCal
Originally Posted By: bruce
Is there any data to support that more accidents/deaths occur now on the mountain then in years past? If not, then I agree this article is clickbait.

I didn't read that as a premise of the article, that more people are getting hurt these days. It seems more about new hikers that keep making the same old mistakes. Accidents go up and down with the seasons. With all the information at people's fingertips today, why can't people learn and make better decisions? I think that's an interesting question to ponder.

Article quote:
"Carma Roper, the public information officer at the Inyo County Search and Rescue office that serves Whitney, told me that accident rates jump up and down. Over the past five years, they’ve performed between six and 20 rescues a year within the Whitney Basin. She said emergency calls ramp up in late spring and early summer, when climbers arrive in droves, and that snow travel and glissading are common causes of the more serious or deadly accidents."

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#54204 - 09/06/18 07:48 PM Re: Whitney Has Turned into a Overcrowed Catastrophe [Re: bruce]
saltydog Offline


Registered: 02/03/11
Posts: 1559
Loc: Valley Ford CA!!!!
Not getting more crowded? On June 19, 1994, a Sunday, I left Trail Camp about 6AM, was on the summit at about 9:20, the first to arrive and sign that day. I passed 4 people on the way up, and was alone at the summit for 20 minutes before anyone else showed up.

Could I have done that this year?


Edited by saltydog (09/06/18 07:50 PM)
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#54205 - 09/06/18 08:32 PM Re: Whitney Has Turned into a Overcrowed Catastrophe [Re: saltydog]
WanderingJim Offline


Registered: 02/09/15
Posts: 226
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: saltydog
Could I have done that this year?


I had the Summit all to myself last year for over 12 hours... of course I was sleeping in the hut part of that time. smile
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#54206 - 09/06/18 08:37 PM Re: Whitney Has Turned into a Overcrowed Catastrophe [Re: saltydog]
bruce Offline


Registered: 09/27/13
Posts: 92
Loc: Novato, CA
How long has the quota system been in effect?

I've never done Whitney in June, too much snow. But I would think it entirely feasible to get up there that early in a June morning and not see anybody for 20 minutes. Probably unlikely, but possible.

Anyway, I was just going off my experiences which have been in July-September. I don't see more people on the trail.

Again, this article is click bait. Whitney is not an overcrowded catastrophe.


Edited by bruce (09/06/18 08:42 PM)

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#54208 - 09/07/18 06:35 AM Re: Whitney Has Turned into a Overcrowed Catastrophe [Re: wagga]
SierraNevada Offline


Registered: 09/05/11
Posts: 1134
Loc: NorCal
This article is about people being UNPREPARED on Whitney and other popular mountains, and the accidents and rescues that result from being UNPREPARED. It's not about crowd size, although there's one mention of an increase in permit applications.

Yes, the title is misleading and could be called "click bait", but the article is actually a pretty decent description of a SAR mission in progress; and also the problems on these "trophy trails" where people don't realize what they're getting into.

Edit
I just noticed if you go to the article and look at the TAB in your browser, you'll see the title is actually, "Too Many Inexperienced People are Climbing Whitney"



Edited by SierraNevada (09/07/18 06:39 AM)

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#54218 - 09/10/18 10:25 AM Re: Whitney Has Turned into a Overcrowed Catastrophe [Re: SierraNevada]
quillansculpture Offline


Registered: 11/13/09
Posts: 561
Loc: Murrieta, CA
I enjoyed this response from a 62 year old hiker who put his training in, but rushed up the trail, wearing himself out, getting into trouble (hiking alone), and making the right decision to head back down. He met several people on the trail, and every single one asked if they could help, and he did eventually ask someone. Brave man to share his story. Here's the first line of post, and it feel very appropriate from my experiences.

"I've heard a lot of criticism of how crowded this trail is, but it's a great crowd!"


Edited by quillansculpture (09/10/18 10:25 AM)
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