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#168271 - 03/01/09 11:26 AM Re: Woman dies after pair lost in backcountry [Re: Leigh_Ratcliffe]
EMPnotImplyNuclear Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 09/10/08
Posts: 327
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20090226.wskier0226/BNStory/National/home

"No one noticed the couple's rental car sitting in an underground parking garage, untouched for nine days."


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#168273 - 03/01/09 11:43 AM Re: Woman dies after pair lost in backcountry [Re: Leigh_Ratcliffe]
scafool Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 12/18/08
Posts: 1534
Loc: Muskoka
Originally Posted By: Leigh_Ratcliffe
It appears to me, on the basis of the news report, that when the SOS was reported, a check was made of both the locals and the guests at the resort. Every one was accounted for.

The missing couple had checked out and were therefor presumed to have left the area. It's probably not practical under normal circumstances for the RCMP to trace and contact every one who has been through the resort during that time frame. Given that everyone appeared to have been accounted for.

I am of the view that had the RCMP had reason to think that someone was in trouble, they would have made a search.


UM, as Susan pointed out, they were seeing SOS signs out in the mountains, and her question about whether they thought bears were making them is quite to the point.

In this case everybody with the power to act decided to ignore the fact that there was somebody out there making distress signals.
_________________________
May set off to explore without any sense of direction or how to return.

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#168278 - 03/01/09 02:24 PM Re: Woman dies after pair lost in backcountry [Re: scafool]
Andrew_S Offline
Journeyman

Registered: 01/09/09
Posts: 59
The missing couple had checked out and were therefor presumed to have left the area.

Well, never presume. It makes a pre out of ... wait, this isn't working.

Already, we have important lessons learned.
1. the heli-skiing company spots an SOS, determines that it's not from their clients, calls the resort. They assume the resort will report it.
2. the resort does a check on their guests. They assume that (a) any missing skier will still be checked in to his room, and (b) any missing skier will have parked in above-ground parking. They also assume that the heli-skiing company would have reported it.
3. the resort assumes that one of their employees, who is a SAR volunteer, will notify the volunteer SAR group. That employee, in turn, assumes (naturally, I think) that his employer has notified authorities.
4. when RCMP gets involved, the resort assumes they're talking about a two-days old signal, not a new, different one. Fatal miscommunication: the RCMP fails to initiate a search.

Lots of people making assumptions here. First lesson learned: when in doubt, call it in.

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#168280 - 03/01/09 02:26 PM Re: Woman dies after pair lost in backcountry [Re: scafool]
red Offline
Member

Registered: 02/24/07
Posts: 175
Did anyone else read the reason they kept moving? They were afraid of the wolves tracking them? Wolves are notorious for following a human's trail simply because it is easier for them to walk through the snow. I know there have been a few wolf attacks in history, but AFAIK they are quite rare. Had the couple stayed put, they would have retained much more energy and they could have made more elaborate signaling, etc.

Heck, even if the wolves were surrounding them, it would be easier to spot from the air.

Any wolf experts on the board who'd like to educate me on the "dangers" of wolves? I've had a wolf at 10 paces, and I've got the video to prove it. Not scary at all. 'Course, I'm usually pretty well armed.
_________________________
When the SHTF, no one comes out of it smelling pretty.

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#168302 - 03/01/09 04:49 PM Re: Woman dies after pair lost in backcountry [Re: ]
ki4buc Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 11/10/03
Posts: 710
Loc: Augusta, GA
I posted this link maybe 2 weeks ago?

http://www.plbrentals.com/

Not associated with them, never used them, but, now no excuses. Everyone can have one.

If this was the USCG instead of RCMP, they would have gotten a boat, helicopter and probably a C-130. USCG takes SOS seriously. They will triangulate your position as best as possible. If its a hoax, they'll hunt your ass down and prosecute you if it isn't real.

http://usmilitary.about.com/cs/coastguard/a/searchrescue.htm

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#168305 - 03/01/09 05:44 PM Re: Woman dies after pair lost in backcountry [Re: Andrew_S]
Russ Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 06/02/06
Posts: 4964
Loc: SOCAL
First lesson learned -- Carry a GPS when you go off the marked trails so that if you get really lost, you can self-rescue.

Second lesson learned -- Do not count on SAR when you get really lost unless you have a direct line into the system such as a PLB or SPOT (in those areas that SPOT works).
Edit: strikethrough based on DR's 3:13PM post.

Third lesson learned -- If you still get lost and the GPS fails for whatever reason, find a nice place to camp and then stay put while your S O S works for you. Get a fire going and stay with your signal.

This website is about being equipped to survive. It isn't about pointing blame at minimum wage resort workers who don't realize there's a car in the parking that hasn't moved. I'm sure there are cars in that parking lot that don't move because it's a resort and the guests might stay for more than a day.

Bottom line for me is that these two were not equipped for the recreation of their choice.


Edited by Russ (03/01/09 11:45 PM)

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#168310 - 03/01/09 06:10 PM Re: Woman dies after pair lost in backcountry [Re: Russ]
Andrew_S Offline
Journeyman

Registered: 01/09/09
Posts: 59
Originally Posted By: Russ
It isn't about pointing blame at minimum wage resort workers who don't realize there's a car in the parking that hasn't moved.


Let's try to stop talking about blame, shall we? It should be clear that many mistakes by many parties contributed to this woman's death. It's not about blame, it's about learning.

To the extent that the only thing you can control is your own behaviour, yes, it makes sense to carry a GPS, etc. But should we assume that none of us will ever be in the position of the helicopter pilot or resort employee?

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#168325 - 03/01/09 09:12 PM Re: Woman dies after pair lost in backcountry [Re: Andrew_S]
dougwalkabout Offline
Crazy Canuck
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/03/07
Posts: 2728
Loc: Alberta, Canada
Actually, it sounds like Russ and Andrew are mostly on the same page, if I'm reading their posts right. I agree, we should try to learn as much as we can from this tangled business.

Looking at the skiers' side, a few things do stand out (as they always do, with 20-20 hindsight):

I think Red picked up on a very important point: they kept moving because there were wolves about. The man was said to be an experienced hunter, but may have had an outdated understanding about wolves and the minimal threat they pose to humans. It would be understandably unnerving to see them a pack hanging out close by, but it cost them a lot of crucial energy, took them away from their signals, and forced them to improvise new shelter every night. I think this may have been the tipping point for them.

The other thing that stands out is how much a tiny bit of gear would have helped. (I know this has been covered before, but bear with me.) The man obviously had some outdoor skills; he was said to be an experienced hunter, and he stayed alive with nothing (as far as we know) in a hostile environment for a long time. He wasn't a quitter; even near the end he was going up every day to clear off his SOS. Imagine what he could have done given a bit of extra food and a handful of essential tools.

(No blame in any of the above. I'm just trying to learn, learn, learn from someone else's misfortune. Though I confess some frustration because so many small things could have tipped the balance in their favour.)


Edited by dougwalkabout (03/01/09 09:13 PM)

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#168327 - 03/01/09 09:37 PM Re: Woman dies after pair lost in backcountry [Re: dougwalkabout]
Russ Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 06/02/06
Posts: 4964
Loc: SOCAL
Quote:
. . .so many small things could have tipped the balance in their favour.
Reminds me of the movie Cast Away after Tom Hank's character is rescued and starts seeing everyday things that would have made life so much easier: a propane match for lighting the fondue and a SAK on the Jeep's keyring come to mind. Little things we carry in our pockets and take for granted.

Look, I don't have a problem with Susan's banging on the system for virtually ignoring the multiple S O S signals, I really don't know what they (resort, et al) were thinking; that should be addressed at the systemic level because somewhere there's a hole in the system and this couple slipped right through that hole.

My biggest issue though is the common held belief that because the SAR system exists, we should rely on it rather than on ourselves. We should be equipped to survive whatever environment we choose to put ourselves. When you ski off the back-side of a resort you should be carrying more than a couple granola bars.

I'm getting ready to invest in a PLB (either the ACR MicroFix or the new McMurdo Fast Find (w/ GPS) if the FCC clears it before I purchase and it gets good reviews). So why would a guy who is big on self rescue buy a PLB? Because when you're floating in your PFD 100 miles off the coast, self rescue isn't an option. My buying a PLB is strictly for a ditching at sea contingency; if I find myself wet when I should be dry, I intend to have a direct line into the SAR system.

Then again, once I own this device, maybe I'll go off the back-side and take more risk knowing I have a safety net at my fingertips. . . nahh, bad form.

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#168329 - 03/01/09 10:13 PM Re: Woman dies after pair lost in backcountry [Re: Russ]
Doug_Ritter Offline

Pooh-Bah

Registered: 01/28/01
Posts: 1961
Originally Posted By: Russ
Second lesson learned -- Do not count on SAR when you get really lost unless you have a direct line into the system such as a PLB or SPOT (in those areas that SPOT works).


SPOT DOES NOT have a direct line to SAR. That is one of the problems and a potentially serious one. Numerous examples of their GEOS call center making calls to the wrong people trying to figure out who should be contacted. Moreover, at times they have been less than fully cooperative, simply providing a location with no added information that they do have at their fingertips, according to my SAR sources. So far, nobody has died as a result, but their are definite issues.

Again, while a PLB alert goes directly to SAR, SPOT does not. SPOT is better about this in the marine environment, because USCG has made it a point to hit them over the head with a virtual 2 x 4 and get them in the loop, so to speak, but not for normal terrestrial SAR. They may get it right, depending upon where you are, but they also may not. This was a major topic of conversation at the RTCM SC-128 initial meeting last week that I attended where all the parties were present. SAR wants a better process and interface. How we get there is a question.

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Editor
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