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Lost and found hiker: Cautionary tale
#54497 11/12/18 01:08 PM
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Steve C Offline OP
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I posted this on the Mt Whitney Facebook group:
Quote:
Lost and found hiker: Cautionary tale.
Mazzie VanRoy posted a thread here:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/30962451768/permalink/10155936529881769/
...that her friend was having trouble on the trail. He started at 11 PM, summit at noon, then darkness overtook him on the descent. The trail below Trail Camp is tough to follow in the dark--There is a switchback that can be missed, and bad decisions (to continue down Off-Trail!!) has been deadly before.

He lost the trail, but his InReach communicator was helpful in that Mazzie was able to tell him where the trail was in relation to his position. After being on the trail for 27 hours, he had to crash (get some sleep). He hit his SOS button, and shut down the gps unit. It appears that around 5:30 AM, he was up and heading down. Fortunately he found the trail, reached Whitney Portal about 36 hours after starting up.

Several Important points:
1. Set up a turn-around time. 13 hours to summit, with only 5 hours of daylight remaining is way beyond reasonable. The mountain will always be there, but that doesn't help if you don't make it back to the trailhead.

2. When hiking alone like that, having a two-way gps communicator (InReach) could save your life. The ability of Mazzie to tell him how far away he was from the trail might have saved his life.

3. This is for Mazzie: don't "blow up" the hiker's unit with messages. It requires a lot of messing around to stop, read extra messages, and then respond. Also, in canyons like that, satellite communications don't get through immediately -- it can take 15 minutes, sometimes longer, for a satellite to come into view above the hiker.

4. It is good he had enough warm clothing to survive the cold overnight. Hypothermia can cause muscles to fail, and it can also cause a dementia-like stupor, resulting in making fatal mistakes.

I am sure there are many more useful lessons from this story. Mazzie, thanks for sharing, and everyone is really glad he made it down safely.


By the way, for anyone reading this: The InReach has a valuable iPhone / android app: If you download the maps before heading out, you can find your position on the maps on the iPhone while you are out on the trail. It can impact the battery life on the phone unit, but I have found it extremely helpful, especially when off-trail.

Re: Lost and found hiker: Cautionary tale
Steve C #54501 11/14/18 11:56 AM
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M
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Love my InReach.

Quick question: It says he hit his SOS button and shut down the unit.

Do you know what the result of this was?

Re: Current Conditions: Mt Whitney Trail
MikeH #54502 11/14/18 01:45 PM
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Originally Posted By: MikeH
Love my InReach.

Quick question: It says he hit his SOS button and shut down the unit.

Do you know what the result of this was?


Hard to say. If he waited for the indication that the message was sent and received, they would know where he was.

It also depends on the model (the oldest doens't have a screen and there's a new small one that doens't as well, so you need the phone app to read and send messages after sending the SOS), but if I actually had to use the SOS function on my inReach, I'd keep the unit on to get the response and send more info if needed.

Shutting it down soon after hitting the SOS wouldn't be very useful for finding the person. I'd only do it I knew they received it and my battery was low.

Re: Lost and found hiker: Cautionary tale
WanderingJim #54503 11/14/18 11:04 PM
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Steve C Offline OP
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I think I put up some bad info in the first post. He sent his SOS at 7 PM. His friend wrote:
"He couldnt find his way dilerious, tired, and too dark to see and I imagine to icy to tell. I had a sgt leading him to the trail by his locations on his GPS but he shut it all down at 2am on us"

I think he found the trail and then had to stop and quit moving due to exhaustion and cold. He started moving again at first light.

So his unit was on for hours after the SOS, and the "sgt" was able to text him and tell him what direction to go to get back on the trail.

Re: Lost and found hiker: Cautionary tale
Steve C #54509 11/19/18 04:07 PM
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Got it. Was hoping he actually left it on after hitting the SOS button.

I hope to never use mine, but am comforted by the stories of those who were saved by hitting theirs.

Re: Lost and found hiker: Cautionary tale
MikeH #54510 11/19/18 09:16 PM
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Steve C Offline OP
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There are also stories of people carrying their units, but not using them except maybe once a day. Then when they go missing, SAR teams don't have much of a clue where to go looking.

If an unplanned emergency occurs (as in sudden death), if the SPOT or InReach user was running it in tracking mode, it is pretty easy to go to the last place the unit pinged the satellite system. Carrying one but not using its features ~to save batteries~ isn't very wise.

Re: Lost and found hiker: Cautionary tale
Steve C #54511 11/20/18 04:09 PM
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Agreed.

In case I wasn't clear, I hope to never have to use my SOS button. I'm always using tracking so that my wife and, usually, one other person can track me. like!


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