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#190764 - 12/14/09 01:07 AM Re: Hikers Stranded on Mt. Hood [Re: MostlyHarmless]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 7066
Loc: southern Cal
Originally Posted By: MostlyHarmless

If something goes wrong in the wild, YOU ARE ON YOUR OWN! Search and rescue is a bonus you shouldn't take for granted. Your predicament may be so quick that everything else is a funeral service.

You hit the nail on the head with these statements. In my SAR experience, we had two major outcomes - 1)People were delayed and proceeding on their own - we merely made things a little easier, but they would have gotten out of their predicament without our help, if necessary. 2)We could have been standing right next to them and they would have died anyway.

That actually happened to one of our members, a physician. The team on the rock next to him suffered a severe fall, and despite his efforts, "all the king's horses and all the king's men couldn't put Humpty-Dumpty together again."

In fact, we were on scene one Sunday afternoon, treating a fall victim, and a flash flood swept through the drainage, killing nine people. Our efforts did materially aid some folks, but it was a full week before we recovered all the bodies.

What good would would PLBs, MLUs, or whatever, have been?

We did encounter the situation where SAR intervention actually saved lives, but it was maybe 10% (a very rough estimate) of our operations. Wildly exhilarating when it happened....

People is the woods must learn to depend upon themselves in emergencies, not on any outside agency, not matter how competent they might appear to be.

SAR people are bozos on the bus, too.

Edited by hikermor (12/15/09 05:19 AM)
Geezer in Chief

#190771 - 12/14/09 02:24 AM Re: Hikers Stranded on Mt. Hood [Re: hikermor]
NobodySpecial Offline

Registered: 03/03/09
Posts: 197
It can happen to the best trained/equipped.
A few years ago an entire team of SAR experts were nearly killed on Mt Logan in the Yokon.

#190777 - 12/14/09 04:49 AM Re: Hikers Stranded on Mt. Hood [Re: NobodySpecial]
Susan Offline

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 5163
Loc: W. WA
The pioneer movement west has been an interest of mine for many years. During the heavy movement to the west in the years 1849 through 1850 or even a bit later, the people who went west didn't expect help. Sure, they would help each other when wagons got stuck, and there was some assistance among them for some things, but it wasn't really expected.

Today, it's considered #11 of the Bill of Rights. No matter how stupid or how unprepared they are, people EXPECT to be rescued. If they knew no one would come after them, how many of these people would do what they do?

And Lono, my friends are the ones who do the rescuing. All of us are in our 60s now, all of us have been involved in hiking, camping, canoeing, whitewater, etc, and none have ever had to cry for help. Luck? Maybe. Good sense and preparedness? Maybe more likely.

If a rescuer of these winter mountaineering twits is killed during the rescue, if a helicopter crashes, do the ones who caused the problem even think of them again once they get home?

Sue, She of Little Patience with Twits

#190780 - 12/14/09 06:40 AM Re: Hikers Stranded on Mt. Hood [Re: Susan]
Dagny Offline

Registered: 11/25/08
Posts: 1916
Loc: Washington, DC

A climbing forum discussion with input from some who are very familiar with Mt. Hood:


#190782 - 12/14/09 11:52 AM Re: Hikers Stranded on Mt. Hood [Re: Dagny]
Russ Offline

Registered: 06/02/06
Posts: 5237
Interesting thread at summitpost.org, lots of (pent up) emotion between the lines. Personally, I have no problem with climbers doing what climbers do and s*** does happen. But the courtesy of assisting the search effort by carrying a beacon of some sort (whether a local MLU or a global PLB) to tightly define the rescue/recovery area is a small request. A beacon may or may not save your life, but it could save the life of a rescuer. Just let everyone know that the rescue/recovery teams are available, but they don't do windows (search).

Aircraft fails to find missing Mt. Hood climbers

Edited by Russ (12/14/09 01:37 PM)
Better is the Enemy of Good Enough.
Okay, what’s your point??

#190784 - 12/14/09 02:06 PM Re: Hikers Stranded on Mt. Hood [Re: Dagny]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 7066
Loc: southern Cal
Thanks, Dagny, for this source. Some worthwhile comments by people who have forgotten more about Mt. Hood than any of us know about the mountain.

Particularly relevant was the comment that the weather forecast gave them good conditions during the projected period of their climb, degrading in the afternoon when they would have finished.

Expectation of rescue? How in the world do we know what their attitude about this might have been? (reference is to Susan's post).

In the last fifty years, SAR capability has advanced significantly. It is primarily a citizen volunteer effort, significantly akin to the efforts made by pioneers as they worked their way west. Even at Yosemite NP, scene of some very well conducted and competent rescue operations, the teams have been a mix of park rangers and civilian climbers (who were paid, however while on the job - a good way for climbing bums to make some money).

There is a SAR paradox resulting from this increasing competence. Some, but not all people, will go out without adequate preparations, because they have heard of well conducted operations. I personally heard this from a victim who stated as we were treating his multiple injuries, "I wouldn't have tried this trip if I didn't know you guys were operating." We were high in the mountains, ten miles from the trailhead, and he had NOTHING with him - literally. The flip side of any SAR group should be public education so that people understand the reality of the outdoors.

Susan, I understand that the fatality rate among pioneers in the early days along the Oregon trail was something on the order of 30% - primarily from accidents and illness. That is pretty tough. At least on Mt. Hood, with 10,000 summit attempts a year, and roughly three annual fatalities, the odds are much better. But statistics are irrelevant when you wind up in the crosshairs.....
Geezer in Chief

#190789 - 12/14/09 03:15 PM Re: Hikers Stranded on Mt. Hood [Re: hikermor]
Pete Offline

Registered: 02/20/09
Posts: 1372
You got the comments right with that one ... "But statistics are irrelevant when you wind up in the crosshairs....."

Regarding "alpine style": I should probably have elaborated. In this case I was referring to the amount of gear that they have tried to jam in their packs. It's always a tradeoff between light-and-fast, or heavy-and-slow. Knowing that they had a time window of 2-3 days of good weather, they may have figured on moving quickly.

If they were delayed at the summit (e.g. by an accident) and were then overtaken by the storm - then they would be in fresh wet snow, possibly very limited visibility and strong winds. It's very easy to get lost under those conditions. The mountains become very dangerous when people get off route.

The fact that one climber was found at a lower elevation - may indicate that the strongest member of the team tried to move ahead and seek help. One of the others may be injured, and that pair could be in a snow cave.

Should personal locator beacons be made mandatory? That's an interesting issue to debate. One of those PLB's could just have offered hope in this situation.

other Pete

#190792 - 12/14/09 04:28 PM Re: Hikers Stranded on Mt. Hood [Re: Pete]
clearwater Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 03/19/05
Posts: 1124
Loc: Channeled Scablands
I say mushroom collectors should have to carry beacons.----

"Just to put this into perspective:
Mount Hood climbing accidents are mountain climbing- or hiking-related incidents on Oregon's Mount Hood. As of 2007, about 10,000 people attempt to climb Mount Hood each year.[1] More than 130 people have died climbing Mount Hood since records have been kept.[citation needed] One of the worst climbing accidents occurred in 1986, when seven teenagers and two school teachers froze to death while attempting to retreat from a storm.[2]

Despite a quadrupling of forest visitors since 1990, the number of people requiring rescue remains steady at around 25 to 50 per year, largely because of the increased use of cell phones and GPS devices.[3] 3.4 percent of 2006's search and rescue missions were for mountain climbers. In comparison, 20% were for vehicles (including ATVs and snowmobiles), 3% were for mushroom collectors, the remaining 73.6 percent were for skiers, boaters, and participants in other mountain activities.

NOTE: only 3.4% of all 2006 rescue missions were for mountain climbers in this area. 10,000 people attempt Mount Hood each year. There will be an accident with so many climbers, statistics alone say there will be an accident. Out of 10,000 cars on the road how many people were hurt in crashes???? This is one of the most climbed peaks in the United States. I live in Oregon and there are SAR missions everyday, only rarely are they for climbers. Lets step back and look at the big picture here."

#190793 - 12/14/09 04:38 PM Re: Hikers Stranded on Mt. Hood [Re: Pete]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 7066
Loc: southern Cal
I may well be mistaken in this, so please correct, but I understand that they were on a one day trip, leaving at 1-2 AM and planning to return mid afternoon (say 2 PM) that same day...At most, then, you would probably carry only emergency bivouac gear, not the load than would accompany a planned overnight.

Our deft attempts to analyze this situation are hampered by a lack of real information and an abundance of speculation and assumptions (including mine!)
Geezer in Chief

#190802 - 12/14/09 07:01 PM Re: Hikers Stranded on Mt. Hood [Re: hikermor]
Pete Offline

Registered: 02/20/09
Posts: 1372
If that's the case, then you are very likely right. It would make sense - from those "facts" - that they were attempting to climb the regular route on Mt Hood, and it sounds as though they planned to climb quickly. Therefore ... not a huge amount of gear in their packs. Probably they did not carry shovels because they expected to return before the storm, and probably no locator beacons because they never expected any serious difficulties on the way.

It's possible they got off route during the ascent - and went off in a wrong direction. That might have put them in difficult terrain and caused an accident. Hence, one climber stayed with the injured team member and the other one descended to seek help. Unfortunately, the climber descending quickly was subsequently killed - possibly because he moved down into difficult and hazardous terrain.

This is all very speculative.

other Pete

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