Picacho Peak fatality

Posted by: hikermor

Picacho Peak fatality - 05/03/19 01:25 PM

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/teen-d...fice/ar-AAAQ0wM

This really sucks! Picacho Peak is a very prominent spire, highly visible just west of I-10 between Tucson and Phoenix. The trail to the top is short and steep, but non-technical and rather easy.

First rule of Arizona hiking. Be sure of your water supply and carry sufficient for your endeavor and prevailing conditions. Who, if anyone, was in charge???
Posted by: chaosmagnet

Re: Picacho Peak fatality - 05/03/19 02:46 PM

Terrible.
Posted by: Phaedrus

Re: Picacho Peak fatality - 05/04/19 06:24 AM

How awful! They definitely weren't very well prepared.
Posted by: KenK

Re: Picacho Peak fatality - 05/04/19 04:27 PM

I find carrying water to be one of the most difficult aspects of hiking. Its VERY heavy and the containers are often less than convenient/comfortable to carry. Even worse to hand carry or strap over a shoulder. Plus, placed in a pack/bag they bring a risk of leaking onto other gear.

I never found anything better than using 1 liter Lexan bottles, but always worry about them leaking, so I single or double bag them in gallon size ziplock bags, depending on what else is in the pack/bag. Never found a flexible container I trusted.
Posted by: hikermor

Re: Picacho Peak fatality - 05/04/19 04:41 PM

https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/loc...ite/1094875001/

A few-more details. A group of boy scouts, accompanied by two adults. It is easy to jump on the BSA, but young kids get messed up in the outdoors all the time, as do many adults, for that matter. But not bringing enough water on an easy hike is an elementary error.

Neither of these articles mentions the weather conditions, which would be crucial.

This incident affects me emotionally, because sixty-one years a similar incident involving Scouts in S Arizona was a life changing experience.

Clearly BSA doesn't have a perfect safety record, but who does??
Posted by: haertig

Re: Picacho Peak fatality - 05/04/19 06:25 PM

How long is this hike they were taking? Is it multi-day, where they might have needed to cache water along the route in advance?
Posted by: hikermor

Re: Picacho Peak fatality - 05/04/19 07:21 PM

The hike is trivial - I have done it at least once (maybe twice). There are two trails - one is three miles, the other is two miles and I believe they join near the summit in a sort of via ferrata arrangement with fixed cables. Total elevation gain is about 1,500 feet.

Usually April and early May is a very good time to enjoy the Sonoran Desert - lots of green vegetation and flowers, although things get toasty as May progresses.

I am surprised that there wasn't enough water within the group to prevent any kind of dehydration incident, much less a fatality. A thoughtful group leader would most likely have extra items, mostly FA, but also including extra water.

I assume there will be an autopsy. I wonder if mere dehydration is the only factor in this poor kid's demise. Very sad, indeed!
Posted by: rafowell

Re: Picacho Peak fatality - 05/04/19 08:42 PM

Originally Posted By: hikermor
things get toasty as May progresses.

It was 90, and near noon.
Originally Posted By: hikermor
I assume there will be an autopsy.

One news source said the autopsy was complete, but I've seen no results

Pichacho Peak is a spectacular hike, though.

Here's a nice video, including the shot of the sign recommending 2-3 liters per hiker,
and lots of shots of the videographer using their hydration bladder.

Video of Pichaco Peak Hike

Photo of Picacho Peak
Posted by: Montanero

Re: Picacho Peak fatality - 05/04/19 08:48 PM

Many people with little experience do not prepare properly, regardless of what they were taught. Many also do not recognize the signs of dehydration and hyperthermia. Many, when they do feel something wrong, feel the need to push through, tough it out so they don't look bad in front of their friends. I have seen this many times in many different situations. The adult volunteers should have been more thorough in their pre-hike checks and in their attention to how the kids were doing. Kids don't know, they have never experienced it. Their first instinct is to hide it. Yes scouts are supposed to be learning and taking more responsibility, but even in the military there are certain checks done on troops no matter what their age.
Posted by: hikermor

Re: Picacho Peak fatality - 05/04/19 11:23 PM

One thing about desert hiking - you want to do your activity early before the day warms up. In typical low humidity situations, the evening and early morning temps are quite comfortable.

typical start time would be 4:30 AM, finishing by 9 or so. An alternative would be to drive to high country where you are in a different world. T.he Santa Catalinas rise to 9,000 feet, with many very nice trails available.

What is it they say about mad dogs and Englishmen??
Posted by: haertig

Re: Picacho Peak fatality - 05/05/19 01:19 AM

Originally Posted By: hikermor
The hike is trivial - I have done it at least once (maybe twice). There are two trails - one is three miles, the other is two miles and I believe they join near the summit in a sort of via ferrata arrangement with fixed cables. Total elevation gain is about 1,500 feet.

Given that - even in the desert, even in the heat - I don't see how dehydration could have been the cause of death. It is very sad that the boy died, but I would be more inclined to think it was a pre-existing (but maybe undiagnosed?) medical condition.
Posted by: Doug_Ritter

Re: Picacho Peak fatality - 05/05/19 01:26 AM

Tragic! This hits close to home as I have done that hike multiple times when younger. I also participated in the civil war reenactments. The Civil War engagement there (calling it a "battle" gives it more prominence than it deserves, IMHO) was the westernmost of the civil war. We drive by every time we travel from Phoenix down to Tucson and back.

It is a short but tough, steep hike. When i did it was no signs warning and on a hot day, not sure the 2-3 liters recommended would suffice if hiking during middle of the day. We did most of my hikes in the winter months or leaving early in the Spring to see the desert bloom, avoiding the real heat. Natives should know better.

Dehydration is insidious to a degree and very individualized and even minor medical conditions can make getting dehydrated a far bigger problem than it might otherwise be.
Posted by: Herman30

Re: Picacho Peak fatality - 05/08/19 04:53 AM

Originally Posted By: rafowell

I fail to understand why people go half naked in hot sunny weather (like this woman in the video). Hottest part of summer I never expose more bare skin than face and hands, always a long sleeve shirt and a boonie hat to shield nose and ears from sun. I do not want skin cancer.
Posted by: Doug_Ritter

Re: Picacho Peak fatality - 05/09/19 12:29 AM

PCSO releases report on death of Boy Scout at Picacho Peak - https://www.abc15.com/news/region-centra...at-picacho-peak
Posted by: hikermor

Re: Picacho Peak fatality - 05/09/19 12:53 PM

This doesn't compute. Two quarts of water consumed on a three mile hike taking four hours and some amount refilled half way...There must be something other than dehydration involved.

It is nice to know that it was 94 in Tucson that day, but Tucson is significantly lower than the state park, although the group would have been dealing with reflected heat off of upright surfaces, etc.

For a typical individual, nearly a gallon of water would have been more than enough to complete this excursion comfortably, provided any degree of adequate hydration at the beginning.
Posted by: Russ

Re: Picacho Peak fatality - 05/09/19 03:48 PM

Seems that normal may not be at work here. There may be other conditions or substances so far unmentioned; Coroner will determine COD.
Posted by: Ren

Re: Picacho Peak fatality - 05/09/19 11:13 PM

Reminds me of US journalist Matthew Power. Died of heatstroke after spending a few days walking with Levison Wood whilst he was attempting to Walking the Nile.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aGpHqccbfuY
Posted by: hikermor

Re: Picacho Peak fatality - 06/19/19 02:18 PM

https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/loc...ing/1289001001/

According to the autopsy, the sixteen year old victim weighed 289 pounds. Doubtless a contributing factor.
Posted by: Herman30

Re: Picacho Peak fatality - 06/20/19 03:30 AM

289 pounds = 131kg. Oh my, explains a lot.