Mt Whitney Webcam
Mt Williamson Webcam
Feature Topics
Who's Online
0 registered (), 10 Guests and 4 Spiders online.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Forum Stats
4022 Members
10 Forums
5850 Topics
52575 Posts

Max Online: 1443 @ 07/29/19 08:40 AM
Topic Options
#56342 - 09/23/19 02:09 PM Helping others on the trail...
63ChevyII.com Offline


Registered: 08/07/12
Posts: 671
Loc: Colton, California
What's the etiquette when it comes to helping people on the trail? Would you intervene if you knew someone was getting themselves in trouble... how pushy would you be to help a stranger, that doesn't think they need help?

Reverse roles - you've been thinking about this day for years and nearly all of your free time for the last 6 months has been used to prepared for this day ... how receptive are YOU to help? If a stranger said that you needed to turn around because you were showing the early signs of AMS/hypothermia/etc, would you?

This happened 7 years ago and I still think about it:

An Unintentional Whitney Summit, a Helicopter Rescue and the “AMS Lady”
_________________________
HikingGeek.com

Top
#56344 - 09/23/19 02:28 PM Re: Helping others on the trail... [Re: 63ChevyII.com]
StorminMatt Offline


Registered: 06/20/19
Posts: 46
Loc: Norcal
This is kind of a sticky thing here. First of all, how are you coming to the conclusion that someone actually has a problem? Just because you don’t look right? Also, to what lengths is a person going to go to get you to turn around? Making simple suggestion? Reporting you to authorities? Pulling you by the arm? And what about someone who you don’t think should be on the trail because they started later than you approve, aren’t wearing what you deem to be proper footwear, or think are simply too old to be on the trail? I personally don’t think anyone should take it upon themselves to police the trail in this sort of manner.

On the other hand, if someone is having a REAL problem, by all means offer any assistance you can. If they have altitude sickness, offer water and a sugary snack. If they have cramps and you have electrolyte tablets, offer them a few. By all means do what you can. But it is NEVER a good thing to take it upon yourself to decide who should and shouldn’t be on the trail.


Edited by StorminMatt (09/23/19 02:30 PM)

Top
#56346 - 09/23/19 09:11 PM Re: Helping others on the trail... [Re: 63ChevyII.com]
CouchToWhitney Offline


Registered: 08/24/19
Posts: 14
Loc: Los Angeles
Originally Posted By: 63ChevyII.com

Reverse roles - you've been thinking about this day for years and nearly all of your free time for the last 6 months has been used to prepared for this day ... how receptive are YOU to help? If a stranger said that you needed to turn around because you were showing the early signs of AMS/hypothermia/etc, would you?

It would depend on where I was and what I felt. If I was only a mile from the summit and feeling great, I would keep going even if someone told me that I was showing the early signs of AMS/hypothermia/any other problem. But if I still didn't reach Trail Camp yet and was already feeling a bit iffy, I'd probably turn around if someone advised me to.

Originally Posted By: StorminMatt
And what about someone who you don’t think should be on the trail because they started later than you approve

On my hike to Lone Pine Lake a week and a half ago, two hikers in separate groups asked me how far I was planning to go. I told them I was going to Lone Pine Lake, and they said that I should "consider going back" because "it's getting late and dark; you probably won't make it, and you still have to go back". This was around 5:40ish and about a mile and a half into the hike (I started the hike from the Portal a few minutes after 5 PM).

I let them know that I had a headlamp and was already familiar with the trail, and they gave me an odd look before moving on. I kept going and didn't regret it - the lake was beautiful, and I didn't feel like I was in any danger on my way back.

Top
#56349 - 09/24/19 06:00 AM Re: Helping others on the trail... [Re: 63ChevyII.com]
RichardK Offline


Registered: 11/06/09
Posts: 116
Loc: East Coast Florida
Many years ago, we were approaching the top of the Bishop Pass as a day hike. A guy heading down looked at us and said "Those are light packs." We assured him that we were returning to South Lake as soon as we tagged the pass. He looked at his watch and said "OK, you have enough time to get back." I appreciated his concern and thanked him.

We were once returning from Cloud's Rest and were maybe 2 miles from the trailhead when we saw a couple heading up. It was maybe 4PM. We asked if they had a flashlight. They did not. We told them how long the hike took us and that they might not be back before dark. They said that they would pick up the pace. I don't know what happened after that.

The situation where someone plainly looks bad with some evidence of mental confusion is a difficult one. You might need to take them by the arm and lead them down the trail. However, it's public land. You can't wrestle someone to the trailhead who is determined to push on. Maybe the best you can do here is to contact the rangers or SAR as soon as possible and report a disoriented hiker who refused to abandon their hike.

As far as breaking off your hike to help someone else goes, I have no problem with that. The trail will always be there. I don't want to spend the rest of my life thinking that someone died because I was too selfish to help.

Top
#56350 - 09/24/19 12:28 PM Re: Helping others on the trail... [Re: RichardK]
Delkan1066 Offline


Registered: 08/17/17
Posts: 17
Loc: Minnesota
In my opinion, there are way too many people out there trying to force their ideas of what is or is not appropriate for someone else. There will always be those people who tell others to turn around or that their gear is not adequate. Or that they don't have enough water. That input is, for the most part, best kept to yourself. You have most likely never met this person before you meet them on the mountain. How are you to know if they are in a bad spot?

Asking a person if they need help, or like you said offering up something like e-tabs or a snack is a nice gesture for someone that is suffering, but telling them to turn around is really none of your business.

The first time I was on Whitney I had a few people do something like this to me. At the top of the switchbacks a couple of guys stopped and talked. One gave me some willow he had in his pocket to chew on like aspirin (which was nice, albeit a little odd). Later I was really struggling (and puking) with the elevation within a mile from the summit. There, several people felt the need to tell me to turn around. I think the only thing more annoying than having traveled to CA, hiked within a mile of the top, and being forced to turn around by my body, was a random person passing by every few minutes telling me about how I felt and what I should do.

This topic reminds me of a poker tournament I was in a while back. On the first hand and older gentleman pushed some chips into the middle with an extremely shaky hand. The young kid next to me said something to him about being nervous, he must have a good hand since he was shaking so much. The older man responded by saying, "no, I have Parkinsons." The younger guy appeared to want to disappear after that exchange. If you don't know anything about the person, best to extend a friendly offer of help and nothing more in my opinion.

Some of the people you deem to be under-prepared judging by their gear or pace might be the most prepared due to their fitness level or their experience on the mountain. A lot of time, the least prepared people are the ones with the massive packs, 20 gallons of water, and giant hiking boots. Consequently, these same people are also the ones that are quickest to tell you that you don't have enough crap strapped to your back and you should probably not even attempt to go a few miles.

Top
#56351 - 09/25/19 06:47 AM Re: Helping others on the trail... [Re: 63ChevyII.com]
RichardK Offline


Registered: 11/06/09
Posts: 116
Loc: East Coast Florida
Read Richard Piotrowski's post on this same question over at the Portal Store Board.

Quote:
there aren't too many times when I think about Whitney that I DON'T feel like kicking myself in the ass regarding the old man who was heading up Whitney on Halloween a number of years ago...

I knew he was already in trouble when I blew past him on the way up The Switchbacks. He was in even worse shape when I passed on my way down from the summit on the West Side.

I did ask him a few questions on the way down, but didn't bother spending any time trying to convince him to head down with me.

He died in one of the couloirs near Mt. Muir...
Was it dissatisfaction with the quality of his end of life????
Was it a real accident?

I don't spend nearly as much time in the mountains anymore, but when I do, and see someone who's obviously in trouble, and still heading up, I go into asshole mode and tell them to get their ass down off of the mountain...

Top
#56360 - 09/27/19 06:04 AM Re: Helping others on the trail... [Re: RichardK]
Delkan1066 Offline


Registered: 08/17/17
Posts: 17
Loc: Minnesota
Yeah, I can understand that feeling of regret. But an old man struggling up a mountain definitely knows the situation he is putting himself in. As should all people on the mountain.

Top
#56361 - 09/27/19 08:07 AM Re: Helping others on the trail... [Re: Delkan1066]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7952
Loc: Fresno, CA
Delkan, That guy was passing through from Washington, and he though he's easily bag Whitney. Summit fever overtook all rational thinking. His wife was waiting for him in Lone Pine. Sad story. It took a number of days to find his body--at the foot of Mt Muir.

Top
#56362 - 09/27/19 11:35 AM Re: Helping others on the trail... [Re: Steve C]
Delkan1066 Offline


Registered: 08/17/17
Posts: 17
Loc: Minnesota
I can understand that it is a sad story. I'm not trying to be negative towards that situation at all.

I just believe that it is everyone's own responsibility to take care of themselves.

Top
#56363 - 09/27/19 11:39 AM Re: Helping others on the trail... [Re: Delkan1066]
Delkan1066 Offline


Registered: 08/17/17
Posts: 17
Loc: Minnesota
And I'm also not saying that you shouldn't help! When help is needed, absolutely, step in. It's the judgement call of trying to dissuade someone from doing something without any knowledge of that person's abilities or situation that to me crosses a line.

Top
#56364 - 09/27/19 04:28 PM Re: Helping others on the trail... [Re: 63ChevyII.com]
RichardK Offline


Registered: 11/06/09
Posts: 116
Loc: East Coast Florida
Mental confusion is not unknown on Whitney due to altitude, dehydration, or some other medical issue. If someone who is plainly in mental distress, who can't speak coherent sentences, and who is pushing on mechanically, what do you do then? I always ask myself, if that were my brother, what would I do?

Top
#56365 - 09/27/19 04:52 PM Re: Helping others on the trail... [Re: Delkan1066]
StorminMatt Offline


Registered: 06/20/19
Posts: 46
Loc: Norcal
Originally Posted By: Delkan1066
And I'm also not saying that you shouldn't help! When help is needed, absolutely, step in. It's the judgement call of trying to dissuade someone from doing something without any knowledge of that person's abilities or situation that to me crosses a line.


THIS!

There is a difference between trying to help others and being Mr. Policeman. And quite frankly, nobody is paying me to be the latter.

Top
#56366 - 09/27/19 05:00 PM Re: Helping others on the trail... [Re: RichardK]
tarheel1 Offline


Registered: 06/09/19
Posts: 6
Loc: North Carolina
Not exactly on topic since I was on my way down the trail. Tried to summit as a day hike with my wife on Sept. 11 this year. I am 64 years old and was less than a mile from the top when I became extremely tired. Knowing I still had over 10 miles to return to the trailhead I turned around. Slightly past trail camp I was completely exhausted.A stranger stopped and realized I was in bad shape and offered me some gummy type energy thing. Without that I would not have been able to get back to the trailhead that day. If you are reading this thanks for your help.

Top
#56367 - 09/28/19 11:47 AM Re: Helping others on the trail... [Re: tarheel1]
CouchToWhitney Offline


Registered: 08/24/19
Posts: 14
Loc: Los Angeles
Originally Posted By: tarheel1
Not exactly on topic since I was on my way down the trail. Tried to summit as a day hike with my wife on Sept. 11 this year. I am 64 years old and was less than a mile from the top when I became extremely tired. Knowing I still had over 10 miles to return to the trailhead I turned around. Slightly past trail camp I was completely exhausted.A stranger stopped and realized I was in bad shape and offered me some gummy type energy thing. Without that I would not have been able to get back to the trailhead that day. If you are reading this thanks for your help.

Wow, it takes a lot of courage to turn back when you're that close. I remember reading about the climber's paradox: in order to succeed you must be exceedingly driven, but if you’re too driven you’re likely to die. The higher or more difficult the peak is, the thinner the line becomes between appropriate zeal and reckless summit fever.

I'm going on a slight tangent here, but what's the etiquette for splitting up when you're in a hiking group? If you're a mile from the summit and feeling great, should you keep going even if your partner(s) have AMS and want to turn back? Would telling that person(s) to turn around and wait for you at Trail Camp be an appropriate response? Did your wife summit that day, or did she turn around with you?


Edited by CouchToWhitney (09/28/19 11:51 AM)

Top
#56368 - 09/28/19 12:49 PM Re: Helping others on the trail... [Re: RichardK]
CouchToWhitney Offline


Registered: 08/24/19
Posts: 14
Loc: Los Angeles
Originally Posted By: RichardK
Maybe the best you can do here is to contact the rangers or SAR as soon as possible and report a disoriented hiker who refused to abandon their hike.

Given the lack of cell coverage on Whitney, what would be the best way to call for help?

A friend who day-hiked Whitney in mid-July (let's call him Mark) turned back near the JMT junction due to exhaustion and AMS. Mark took a long time to get down, but on his way down, he passed a guy in his 60s who looked to be even worse off than him. This happened near Trailside Meadows, and the older guy asked Mark whether he could borrow his phone "so that he could call someone". Mark took out his phone, turned off airplane mode, and lent it to him, but there was no reception at all in that area.

After several failed attempts, Mark took back his phone and continued heading down. He thought he heard the older guy mumble something to the effect of "I hope I make it down by night" (this incident occurred at around 1 PM) but wasn't completely sure. A few minutes later, Mark looked back and saw that the older guy had barely made any progress in going down.

Mark told me that he felt really bad but didn't know what else he could do. He was already running low on food himself and couldn't afford to give anyone his snack, and the older guy said that he had a filter and enough water. The only ranger Mark saw on the trail that day was checking permits on the switchbacks shortly before noon, and he had no idea where that ranger had gone since then. He considered alerting someone at the Portal when he got back a few hours later, but ended up not doing so since he thought that other hikers would already have helped that guy out.

Top
#56369 - 09/28/19 01:36 PM Re: Helping others on the trail... [Re: CouchToWhitney]
RichardK Offline


Registered: 11/06/09
Posts: 116
Loc: East Coast Florida
Originally Posted By: CouchToWhitney
I'm going on a slight tangent here, but what's the etiquette for splitting up when you're in a hiking group?


It would be helpful to read the chapter in Doug Thompson's book Mountain Lore From The Whitney Store entitled "When Something Goes Wrong."

Quote:
If a party consists of two or more people, they may not feel any need to stay together. ...Any number of things can happen to cause a missed connection. ...The net result is, the sun goes down without everyone knowing where everyone else is. Suddenly they want help.


I don't think that there is any official etiquette. However, if you start as a group and the fast ones zoom ahead while the slow ones lag behind, then what was the point of going out as a group? When groups split up is when problems can develop. When our local hiking club goes out, there is always a leader and a sweep. No one gets ahead of the leader and no one falls behind the sweep. The leader knows that everyone is behind them and the sweep knows that everyone is ahead of them.

In case of an injury or someone who is too tired to continue, they never go back alone. Someone always goes with them. If the group is small, then this circumstance may mean that everyone goes back.

Top
#56370 - 09/28/19 01:57 PM Re: Helping others on the trail... [Re: CouchToWhitney]
RichardK Offline


Registered: 11/06/09
Posts: 116
Loc: East Coast Florida
Originally Posted By: CouchToWhitney
Given the lack of cell coverage on Whitney, what would be the best way to call for help?


I believe that you can get a cell signal from the Whitney Portal, but it may depend on which carrier. The signal may not be entirely reliable. Perhaps someone knows what the current cell situation is there.

That means, you may have to be in Lone Pine to report anything. You would call the Inyo County sheriff since in California it is the sheriff who has the authority to call out search and rescue. Reporting anything to the Portal Store will get you a stern lecture that there are no rescue capabilities there although they may have better cell equipment and could get a call out.

Top
#56371 - 09/28/19 02:21 PM Re: Helping others on the trail... [Re: CouchToWhitney]
StorminMatt Offline


Registered: 06/20/19
Posts: 46
Loc: Norcal
Originally Posted By: CouchToWhitney
I'm going on a slight tangent here, but what's the etiquette for splitting up when you're in a hiking group? If you're a mile from the summit and feeling great, should you keep going even if your partner(s) have AMS and want to turn back? Would telling that person(s) to turn around and wait for you at Trail Camp be an appropriate response?


There is no ‘standard etiquette’ when it comes to this sort of situation. This is often something that is agreed upon before hitting the trail. For instance, members of a hiking party may decide beforehand that, unless the situation is REALLY serious, anyone who wishes to turn around will do so on their own. Or perhaps that specific people in a group (like maybe people who have summited multiple times before) will turn around with them. People who hike in groups may also carry various types of two way radios so that they can check up on those people who decide to turn around for various reasons.

Originally Posted By: CouchToWhitney
Given the lack of cell coverage on Whitney, what would be the best way to call for help?


One thing I have noticed is that more and more people on Whitney are carrying satellite communicators of various types. The Garmin Inreach Mini seems to be particularly popular, and might not be a bad investment if you frequently travel to areas where there is no phone service. Another option is to carry two way radios of some sort as mentioned above. This way, you can contact other members of your party who may be in a location where there is phone service.


Edited by StorminMatt (09/28/19 02:34 PM)

Top
#56374 - 09/28/19 05:08 PM Re: Helping others on the trail... [Re: StorminMatt]
tarheel1 Offline


Registered: 06/09/19
Posts: 6
Loc: North Carolina
Couch to whitney, My wife turned around when I did. Our pace past trail crest was probably less than 1 mile an hour. And neither of us wanted to finish the hike too much after dark. We lost the trail twice in the dark on the way up while we were fresh but realized quickly we were off trail. Not sure how we would do if we got off trail in the dark while really tired.

Top