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#78962 - 12/07/06 09:51 PM Re: James Kim: Snowbound Vehicle Info and Analysis
norad45 Offline

Registered: 07/01/04
Posts: 1506
(sigh). This is the point. Your car could catch on fire, so you had better buy a fire extinguisher. You or a family member may have a heart attack -- better carry an AED. Just in case on tsunami, carry an inflatable raft and life jackets.

(Double sigh) So your advice is to not to carry any gear because you can't possibly plan for all scenarios? Of course not. So we discuss what to carry all the time. I prefer to plan for the most likely scenarios I am going to face. That does not include tsunami, but it does include being snowbound. I respectfully suggest that if you are going to be traveling in the mountains in winter that you are better off planning for the latter rather than the former.
I admire the guy and his family for lasting as long as he did. It is easy to play armchair quarterback, but it is a whole different thing to be in the game.

I've nothing but respect and sympathy for Mr. Kim and his family. However, if discussing and learning from their experience--including their possible mistakes--makes me an armchair quarterback then so be it. I'd rather avoid disaster than survive it any day.

#78963 - 12/07/06 10:00 PM Re: James Kim: Snowbound Vehicle Info and Analysis
Glock-A-Roo Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 04/16/03
Posts: 1076
...I presume that you saw the reconstruction on one of the Ray Mears programs?...

No, I saw the I Shouldn't Be Alive: Ice Cave Survivor show.

The thing's that struck me most strongly about that little debacle where:
1) His total lack of preparation.
2) A properly employed Ritter PSK would have gotten him and his son rescued.

Absolutely agreed. A simple fire would likely have saved his son from frostbite, and some basic signaling (including smoke from said fire) would have attracted the attention of the helicopters that flew nearby multiple times.

#78964 - 12/07/06 10:01 PM Re: James Kim: Snowbound Vehicle Info and Analysis
JCWohlschlag Offline
Some guy who wandered in…
Old Hand

Registered: 11/26/06
Posts: 724
Loc: Dallas, Pennsylvania, United S...
The recommended 72 hours of a survival kit is meant to serve as a buffer. This buffer is an amount of time that you have needed resources readily available, such as water, shelter, food, and fire, for enough time to construct or acquire additional resources for additional time.

For example, you don't just carry 72 hours of water and stop at that. You also build a fire to melt snow, carry water purification supplies, use stills, transpiration bags, sponges, etc. to gather additional water.

I agree that you cannot carry everything and cannot prepare for everything. That's why we all visit and read Doug's work here to find out what equipment is the most essential, effective, and versatile to have for maximum efficiency.
“Hiking is just walking where it’s okay to pee. Sometimes old people hike by mistake.” — Demitri Martin

#78965 - 12/07/06 10:17 PM Re: James Kim: Snowbound Vehicle Info and Analysis
ducktapeguy Offline

Registered: 03/28/06
Posts: 358
Exactly! Nobody here is saying you shouldn't be prepared, but it DOES make a big difference what the chances are. People also get shot, but we don't walk around wearing bulletproof vest all day. There's a much greater risk of us falling on a slippery surface and splitting our head open, but we don't wear helmets. You get my point. Assesing the risk is part of being prepared. If you're preparing for an event that has a very small likelyhood of happening, you've just crossed the line from being prepared to being paranoid.

The items I mentioned above would hardly take up much room, about the size of a medium-sized toolbox.

I would like to know what other people would have done in that situation, with what you currently carry in the car. For the sake of discussion and analysis, let's assume he did bring all this stuff with him, what would that have accomplished? We'll say he had the forsight to pack along a pair of snowshoes on a family vacation when he had absolutely no plans on being in the snow. I still don't see how that might have helped. He had already walked 8 miles, even if you increase that to 20 or 30 miles, how would that have guaranteed sucess? Maybe he would have reached that lodge that was closed for the winter, but he's still stranded outside. What good would a 4 season tent have done when they already have a pretty decent shelter (the car)? More food would have made them more comfortable, but they didn't die of starvation, so I still don't agree that it would have helped a lot. A signal mirror might be a good idea IF there was someone out there looking, but they already had a signal fire, which in this situation would probably be better than a mirror. Still nobody saw it. A map and compass would definitely be nice things to have, but I would assume he had a road map with him, and I know those cars come with a built in compass, but that still wasn't enough to save his life. In this case, you could almost say his being slightly prepared caused his death. Had he been wearing shorts and sandals, and been completely unprepared for the weather, he may have chosen to stay with the car instead of venturing out, and then been rescued with the rest of the family. Or he could have stayed with the family and all 4 of them have died. That's going to extremes though. We can critique and analyze every little action, but there are just too many grey areas to say what was the right and wrong thing to do without knowing the whole story.

It is a good idea to analyze the situation and identify any mistakes, but my point here is these aren't necessarily obvious mistakes. These are decisions that anyone could have made, they weren't because of ignorance or recklessness, for the most part they were calculated decisions made with the information that was available, but still ended up in tragedy. I honestly can't say I would be able to last any longer than he did, even with all my equipment. Of course, in my own little virtual world I imagine myself to be the great survivalist, building huge bonfires and shelters, hunting for food for my family, walking out to get help, etc, but the reality of it is that I may have done the exact same things he did, or gotten myself into worse trouble.

#78967 - 12/07/06 11:42 PM Re: James Kim: Snowbound Vehicle Info and Analysis
Old_Scout Offline

Registered: 11/03/06
Posts: 95
Loc: Delaware
I've been following this thread and it seems the discussion breaks down into two general areas: kit and decisions. I won't respond to the kit issues about what one should , could, did have - because Mr. Kim didn't have much, since his wife and kids survived pretty well they apparently had what they needed for this ordeal (that's simplistic, of course) and virtually everyone on this forum probably has more kit in their pockets right now than they had! So, let's look at decisions.

In this situation, and thousands like it any of us may face, decisions are really risk assessments. Survival and high stress/danger environments (combat, for instance) require continuous evaluation of environment/conditions, resources, threats and plausible responses. These are all couched in risk tolerance - and that is dependent in large measure on possible consequences and to whom. As has been said if it's just me that's much different than my wife and two kids being impacted. My risk aversion quotient changes! If I might die that's one thing - different if the risk is a broken arm. And these decisions must be made constantly through time and as the variables change. To put it simply, I tell people I train this - when you're up against it - or about to be - think about every decision, evaluate risk, then go. It's not go - then evaluate risk - then decide! Too late! And let me add - all the kit in the world can't compensate for not thinking - because you're dead and can't use it!

We don't have now - and may never - all the details of this story, but some bad decisions were made long before the car stopped and way long before the ninth day. Do I turn down this road? (Snow, dark, no kit, no food, poor map) Do I stop now and back up? Now do I try to turn around? You get the idea. So, here's my risk assessment.

The car's stuck, I don't have any equipment, not much food, etc. etc. I do have the ability to make fire. Plenty of wood. I can get water. Not the best clothing situation. I can shelter in car. Lots of "stuff" from the car. I'm a long way from civilization. After 7 days little chance of enough strength to walk out in this situation. Conclusion: best chance is to shelter in place, conserve bodily energy, keep warm, keep hydrated, make my search signature as large as possible (like I said - burn down the forest!). I am convinced that at every decision point after being stuck the final choice has to be - remain in place and keep working to stay alive. As more time passes careful judgment dictates that this becomes more important - not less. But here's the key - you have to know all that ahead of time. It is knowledge and mental preparation that makes survivors. Sure, we all know the stories of somebody who walked out after two weeks and saved his crew. It's just that the hundred other stories of those who died trying just aren't that interesting!

So, knowledge, training, practice, kit - in that order. BTW, been there done that. 35 years ago I was lost for a three days in the remote Ontario forest - and I was real experienced outdoors. But I was mentally unprepared for the experience. I probably wasn't that far from dying, in hindsight. Going in the wrong direction (which I was) I could have gone 250 miles to hit a public road. I got my wits back and got back to camp two days later. I decided then and there that it would not happen that way again. I've been lost several times since then, but now I know what to do - because I've planned to be lost. I carry different stuff and I have different mental preparation. My risk assessment is much different. I like to go places where it's tough and I go prepared to deal. When I'm not prepared, I don't go to those places.
See 'Ya Down the Trail,
Mike McGrath

"Be Prepared" "For what?" "Why, any old thing!" B-P

#78968 - 12/07/06 11:43 PM Re: James Kim: Snowbound Vehicle Info and Analysis
Arney Offline

Registered: 09/15/05
Posts: 2485
Loc: California
Helicopter that located Kati Kim and two children was privately chartered by concerned family members

I was just reading this article about the helicopter pilot who found the wife and children. It actually wasn't the chartered helicopter that found Kati and the children.

John Ranchor is a 58 year old, private helicopter pilot who knows the area well. He had a hunch about where the Kim's might be, so on his own initiative, he flew out to the area. The SAR and chartered helicopters were off searching other areas at the time. After Mr. Ranchor spotted Kati Kim waving her umbrella, he then contacted the chartered helicopter to pick them up (the implication in the article is that his helicopter is too large to land safely but the chartered helicopter was smaller and could land nearby. RAS posted a photo of a SAR chopper winching someone down that was very large, too.).

Mr. Ranchor also says that he is familiar with the logging road where the Kim's took a wrong turn well. The logging road is actually wider and better maintained than the main road, so he isn't surprised that they turned down the logging road when they were trying to backtrack to the main highway. At night, while it's snowing, on an unfamiliar road--sounds like a mistake any of us could make.

I tip my hat to the efforts of a private citizen to help out other people in need. Although the Kim's had heard helicopters earlier, they were never spotted. There's no telling when the official SAR and chartered flights might have found the Kim's without Mr. Ranchor's initiative and firsthand knowledge of the area.

P.S. Of course, as with all press reports, maybe even this story isn't quite as simple as it appears to be. We'll see.

#78969 - 12/07/06 11:45 PM Re: James Kim: Snowbound Vehicle Info and Analysis
picard120 Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 07/10/05
Posts: 763
does red streamer really work? It is just an orange strip of plastic.

#78970 - 12/07/06 11:56 PM Re: James Kim: Snowbound Vehicle Info and Analysis
picard120 Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 07/10/05
Posts: 763
If he stayed at the car, would a PLB would draw rescuers to him ?

#78971 - 12/08/06 12:09 AM Re: Doug Comprehensive Article?
Ors Offline
Namu (Giant Tree)

Registered: 09/16/05
Posts: 663
Loc: Florida, USA
How might a comprehensive review of the situation be viewed by the family?

Either a learning opportunity for others, or adding insult to injury. It may be very difficult for the family to hear an expert say, "they did this, this and this wrong."

They have a lot to deal with.

While an analysis may be helpful for folks like us, but it may be emotionally harmful for the family.

I know that the ETS members suggesting this are not insensitive to the family's pain and don't mean to imply such.

From my own loss of family members (health reasons, not survival situation), I kept questioning, "what about this" or "what if they had done that?". In the end I concluded that it doesn't really matter the reasons...the result is still the same...the person is still gone.

Just another perspective.

BB James Kim.
Memento mori
Vulnerant omnes, ultima necat (They all wound, the last kills)

#78972 - 12/08/06 12:36 AM Re: Doug Comprehensive Article?
Hattaway Offline

Registered: 12/05/06
Posts: 6
Loc: California
Some (not all) of the media coverage of this event is being incredibly kind to the family, and I think that's great. For the people who rankle when the word "hero" is used, get over it; that is how his children need to remember him. And what he did was the best he could do, for all the reasons stated here (need to do something, lack of experience and gear, putting his children's future before his own safety, etc).

I'll admit that I get irritated (and Doug knows, since I've been known to vent about it) that when someone goes out without a plan, gets, oh let's say caught under a rock and gnaws off his hand, then goes on late night TV to be applauded as a hero, and does NOT use that opportunity to teach a valuable lesson, but instead basks in the glory of their "heroic" deeds and delights in being up close and personal with the two Ls. But here we have a guy who tried and failed, and a family who needs to find some peace in loss, which is darned hard to do.

Anyway, before I veer too far off topic; it is possible to use this story to teach a lesson and still be sensitive to the emotional needs of the family who survived. So I'd welcome an analysis from Doug and don't think it has to be hurtful. With time, I hope the family can see that articles that use their example as a springboard for saving other lives honors Mr. Kim's memory.

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