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Mt Hood rescue/tragedy

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Postby kozman18 » Sat Dec 19, 2009 3:47 am

thoth wrote: go away if you expect to dictate responses on an open OPINION based climbing/hiking forum.


Little contradictory to tell me to go away -- if it's an open forum, don't I have the right to express my opinion about the appropriateness of someone's comments? If I said something vulgar or expressly derogatory about a lost climber, shouldn't I expect criticism? If we adopt your illogic, it's okay to say what you want, but not for others to comment on it.

That makes no sense.

As for characterizing the actions of climbers, I think it's inappropriate when the facts aren't known. I have no "personal agenda" -- I don't know the Chief and I don't know you. I just thinks it's wrong to use the word "stupid" to characterize anyone who heads up Mount Hood in December, especially the day after climbers are lost on that mountain. Pretty simple case of right and wrong in my book (I am sure a number of those climbers' friends and family got to read Chief's comments -- if you think that's okay, then we have different value sets).

If Chief wants to keep posting this type of stuff, I can't stop him -- it is an open forum. But I will comment -- probably after it gets moved to Prate and Prattle.

I am on the east coast and getting up early to go climbing in the morning. So, I give you west coasters the last word -- there's nothing left for me to say.
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Postby The Chief » Sat Dec 19, 2009 3:58 am

This past early July, I even had a dude offer me $1500 cash on the spot, to ditch my client who was beginning to succumb to symptoms of ALS, at the "Notch" on the MR, and get him up to the summit of Whitney in one piece. His partner abandoned him lower down at Iceberg Lake and he was on his own.
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Postby AndyJB444 » Sat Dec 19, 2009 4:23 am

The Chief wrote:This past early July, I even had a dude offer me $1500 cash on the spot, to ditch my client who was beginning to succumb to symptoms of ALS, at the "Notch" on the MR, and get him up to the summit of Whitney in one piece. His partner abandoned him lower down at Iceberg Lake and he was on his own.


I fail to see the comparison you are attempting to make...the team lost on Hood was actually quite experienced (according to reports) and were NOT those typical people you have seen in the Sierra's wearing shorts, jeans, and tennis shoes.

Maybe I'm missing something?
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Postby kozman18 » Sat Dec 19, 2009 4:30 am

The Chief wrote:

My post was and still is a GENERIC claim.

Here's the circumstances for you and the rest that wish to immortalize people in general that are going out into the mountains, ill prepared and with ideas of grandiose that eventually ends up killing them. Plain and simple.


Okay, I made the mistake of checking this never-ending thread before I turned in.

One more time: this thread is (or was) about the lost climbers on Mt. Hood in December. You commented that people who climb Hood in December are stupid -- taking risks you wouldn't. How is that generic? Come on, seriously, that makes no sense whatsoever. If I was a friend of any of the climbers (or anyone else for that matter), I wouldn't (and logically couldn't) take that comment as anything but specific to the context of the thread. And therein lies the reason why it never should have been posted (put another way, if you have generic comments about Mt. Hood, start a generic thread about it -- don't post it early on in a thread about people doing exactly what you are "generically" commenting on -- how is a reader supposed to disconnect the two?).

As for immortalizing -- you can try to put words in my mouth, but it ain't gonna work. I am not immortalizing anyone. Guess why? I don't know the facts. Maybe they did things right, maybe not. Until I know, I'll reserve comment.

As for the rest of your last post -- I get it, you are an expert climber/guide. More the reason you should have known better than to say what you said.

Step up to the plate -- admit your mistake and move on.

Adios, I got better things to do.
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Postby The Chief » Sat Dec 19, 2009 5:00 am

AndyJB444 wrote:
The Chief wrote:This past early July, I even had a dude offer me $1500 cash on the spot, to ditch my client who was beginning to succumb to symptoms of ALS, at the "Notch" on the MR, and get him up to the summit of Whitney in one piece. His partner abandoned him lower down at Iceberg Lake and he was on his own.


I fail to see the comparison you are attempting to make...the team lost on Hood was actually quite experienced (according to reports) and were NOT those typical people you have seen in the Sierra's wearing shorts, jeans, and tennis shoes.


Most of the folks I speak of were at altitudes well above that of Hood.

Most claimed, during my conversations with them, to also be "quite experienced" mountaineers with many trips under their belts to the High Eastern Sierra.

BTW, last time I checked, Whitney is 3,200 some feet higher than Hood.

Your post is exactly what I am speaking of...

"the team lost on Hood was actually quite experienced (according to reports) and were NOT those typical people you have seen in the Sierra's wearing shorts, jeans, and tennis shoes."

You mean like this....
Image

kozman18

Again amigo, get off this gig that I am posting for your benefit.

I am making "Generic" comments. None in particular going yours or anyone's way in particular unless I specifically deem them so.

My generic comments are made on the basis of the well known inconsistent December/January weather patterns in the PNW. Especially around Mt. Hood.

No mistake what so ever to admit. I say what I say from my many upon many observations of late.

Just cuz you do not agree with my point doesn't make it wrong dude.

My opinion is and stands. I apologize for nothing.
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Postby dskoon » Sat Dec 19, 2009 6:41 am

Chief, you're not getting the point. . .
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Postby The Chief » Sat Dec 19, 2009 6:46 am

dskoon wrote:Chief, you're not getting the point. . .


And neither ya'll.

Seems Climbers are now faultless in the ultimate consequences that they have paid due to their choices and decisions, regardless who they may be and how "experienced" they/we/you think they are.

Being properly equipped for the season at hand, consistently thinking of an emergency escape/decent route/plan, preparing for and contemplating the worst case scenario while on the route, gives way to better decisions when shit hits the fan.

Denial.....it's a killer folks.

This is my last post on this matter/issue. Think what ya'll want.

Edit: Addition
Last edited by The Chief on Sat Dec 19, 2009 1:43 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby Sunny Buns » Sat Dec 19, 2009 7:32 am

We have now been given permisssion to think what we want.

Here's what I think.

Don't climb into nasty weather on big mountains, especially if you are going "fast and light". The weather in the Pacific Northwest can be REAL nasty with high winds and massive quantities of precipitation making survival difficult, especially in the winter, but this is the case at any time of the year when you are far above the tree line. That's obvious, but people seem to forget it on a regular basis and then we have the current situation.

Perhaps the weather isn't what got them this time - perhaps it was an accident and the weather played little if any role, but when I go on a big mountain I'll have enough gear to survive a few days under just about any circumstance, assuming I'm not hurt. Doing that requires some muscle and isn't the style for a lot of people now days - I suspect because they don't have the muscle it requires. It is tough on the joints after a few years. Going light is probably more fun, but if ANYTHING happens and you have to stay on the mountain without adequate insulation, your chances of survival are reduced. What is adequate in a winter storm? (I'd say: extra pair heavy socks preferrably down booties, heavy weight polypro underwear bottom and top, thick fleece jacket and pants, heavyduty down parka with hood, heavy wool balaclava, extra gloves and overmitts, goretex rain pants, jacket and gloves to go over all that, bivy bag, full length foam pad, shovel, stove, fuel, pot to melt snow). THAT IS IN ADDITION TO THE CLOTHES YOU CLIMB IN WHICH WILL BE USELESS AFTER YOU DIG YOUR SNOW CAVE BECAUSE THEY WILL BE SOAKED WITH SWEAT AND WATER. Sleeping bag would be handy too.

How many have been going out prepared as outlined above? I'll wager not many.

Not sure if these climbers were experienced or not - the newspaper said they were but I don't remember reading of any formal training.

On the mountain locator units: I would not mandate them, just like I would not mandate forced healthcare. It might be reasonable to mandate some type of communication devices since most folks have cell phones. Might not be able to make a call, but might be able to get a ping to a cell tower. Remember to turn the phone off until you need it and keep the battery in a warm location. Radios work also. Those 2 way units from home depot would reach SOMEONE if you were high on the mountain - gotta have good warm batteries. Ham radios would be even better.

What's the best piece of survival gear? IMHO, a big powerful brain.
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Postby dskoon » Sat Dec 19, 2009 8:34 am

Excellent . . .
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Postby Buckaroo » Sat Dec 19, 2009 9:42 am

Agree with Chief on most of his points but not all.

The main one I agree with is, learn from other's mistakes. Study this accident and think what could have been done differently. People have died and if you can figure out why you can avoid that same type of fate. Therefore their deaths may hopefully serve a purpose, to teach others how to stay alive.

It's mostly conjecture at this point but here's a couple possible scenarios. To all affected parties my utmost sympathy. I just want to help other climbers learn from this.

A. Someone fell

B. Objective hazard. Icefall from above etc.

A. If someone fell then they were on a climb that was over their head because this route is not that technically difficult. This is where the winter aspect may have been a factor. Winter conditions mean harder climbing, it changes the grade.

Colder temps mean harder ice. It becomes boilerplate. Your cramps and tools have to be really sharp and crampon fit becomes more critical, they have to be tighter to the boot. And it takes more energy and strength on each stick and kick. Compared to summer styrofoam, on a winter ice face you will get less crampon penetration. When it's steep you will be all on your calves. The cold air is harder to breath and you are expending more energy just to stay warm. The necessary extra winter gear means more pack weight. The total energy expenditure becomes almost exponential.

All this stuff adds up to the same climb being possibly twice as hard physically as it is in summer. And you get half way up a face like this and finally figure this out, it's harder to climb down, your stuck and that's when falls happen.

B. Objective hazard. Icefall etc. If this is what happened then experience and skill may not be as much of a contributing factor to the initial (possible) accident. This is one point I disagree with Chief. Objective hazard is luck. It can happen to anyone. You climb underneath stuff that can fall on you, it can fall at any time. That's just luck. You can maximize your chances by minimizing your time underneath but there's always places where some amount of exposure is unavoidable. Usually (but not always) on the bigger harder climbs the exposure is greater. Winter climbing usually increases the hazard/exposure due to things like unstable snow and ice.

Now let's look at what happened after the (possible) accident, whether it was a fall or objective hazard. This is where it becomes more possible that they were a little on the inexperienced side. This is where you need to learn how to survive in case something happens.

""Nolan lost a mitten. Gullberg gave her his gloves and took the remaining mitten for his descent.""

A glove came off in a fall (possibly). Possibly it was not tightly secured. On a climb like this you need gloves that have a secure wrist closure. Some ski gloves have an elastic wrist band. This won't stay on in a bad fall or marginal glissade. You need a locking wrist strap. You can also have a tether, safer for steep slopes and windy conditions.

In addition the glove exchange tells you that at least 2 of them didn't have any extra gloves/mittens. In winter each person should have one pair of gloves and one pair of mittens. On a winter climb, even with no accident, the loss of a glove/mitten without backup can mean the loss of fingers or a hand. Small problems can quickly lead to bigger ones, like not being able to manipulate critical gear.

""Thompson suggested that Gullberg's path to hypothermia could have begun with the strenuous task of digging a snow cave.""

The conjecture here is that Gullberg dug a snow cave for the other two then descended to get help. On just the first day of the climb, if he had the energy to dig one he should have had the energy to dig three, but this is condition dependent. It's possible but not likely that where he stopped he found it too hard to dig into the ice/snow. Then it comes down to survival without shelter. Looking at the probable glove shortage you might surmise they were short of other critical winter gear.

Two key extra winter items for each climber, in addition to the obvious puff jacket, you need puff pants and a bivy sack. With these items you can survive without shelter at least one night, buying more time to descend or find good snow for a cave. The fact that he, relatively uninjured, didn't survive at least one night tells you he was not properly equipped.

One other possible aspect of this event is that they went up with few or no extra days of good weather. They planned on doing it in a day and that was all the time they had. (Possibly) leaving little or no margin for unexpected events. Combine the probably lack of full winter gear with worsening weather and this is the result.

Things to remember about winter climbing. This info even applies for a day climb of this magnitude.

Extra gear, in addition to the normal 3 season gear. Winter gear per person, extra gloves/mittens, touk (balaclava/facemask), goggles, puff pants, wind/rain pants (bibs even better), bivy sack, 3/4 foam pad, Extra food, remember just staying warm requires more energy. A thicker puff jacket with a puff hood may be called for over a lighter puff jacket.

Party of three should have at least one stove (prefer two), even on a day climb, with enough fuel for melt water for 3 persons for 7 days (approx.) This is to survive being stuck in a snow cave. Party of three should also have at least 2 digging tools, prefer 3. A good stove pot can be used as a digging tool. Think about what happens if the party has to split up, you need one stove and one digging tool for each.

Any given climb of this type will be up to twice as hard physically in winter as it is in summer and remember the extra gear means extra pack weight. You can climb styrofoam or softer snow, can you climb hard ice? Try some WI3 or 4 at the crags before you get 1000 feet up.

Know how to dig a snow cave. This is key to winter climbing. Go out, preferably in a snow storm and dig a cave close to the road and stay in it overnight. You don't want to try and learn during an emergency. You have to learn how and where to dig, how to stay as dry as possible while digging, and how to keep fresh air while maintaining cave warmth. Snow cave knowledge can even apply in summer on a peak like Rainier.

Learn the signs of hypothermia and how to avoid it. Icy hots, screaming barfies. If you are not climbing up or down you are digging a snow cave. If you're standing around for any length of time you are running in place. With a wind chill even puff pants and puff jacket won't keep you warm if you aren't moving.

Keep in mind this is by no means a comprehensive list. Further reading is required, suggest "Extreme Alpinism", "Alpine Climbing, Techniques to Take You Higher", FOTH. Three to five years of summer climbing before winter (at the same grade), or go with someone who's been there done that.
_____________________

There's nothing wrong with pushing the limits, in this modern leisure society someone has to keep the gene pool sharp. Once you've done a peak a few times in summer and you need more challenge the same routes in winter can provide that additional challenge. But you have to realize with the extra challenge comes the extra difficulty and risk. Be prepared for it.

Rest In Peace fellow climbers. Hope you're climbing the climbs of your dreams.
Last edited by Buckaroo on Sat Dec 19, 2009 5:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Alpinist » Sat Dec 19, 2009 4:43 pm

Good post. I question the theory about why he was wearing her mitten though. If she lost one of her mittens, as the theory suggests, why would he give her his gloves and take one of hers? If he was going for help and she was in a snow cave, he would need the gloves more than she would. She could put her hands inside her pockets or jacket to keep them warm, whereas he would need to use his hands. That theory is not quite right.

There are so many possible explanations but it seems more likely that Luke lost his gloves after some kind of accident that they all experienced (crevasse fall, avalanche, etc.), he survived and then found one of her mittens.
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Postby Buckaroo » Sat Dec 19, 2009 5:14 pm

Good point. And in that case his gloves/mittens weren't secure and he didn't have extras or lost the extras. Also possible he took the mitten off in the clutches of hypothermia.
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Postby albanberg » Sat Dec 19, 2009 5:53 pm

Interesting comments Buckaroo. I would just like to add that extra winter gear, such as a down hooded jacket, down bag, mits, bivy, etc., do not need to be heavy. IMHO it is worth it to buy good light weight gear. My down jacket is super light at ~17 oz, but is very warm. I also bought very light down mits. Modern high-end shells, both tops and bottoms, are very light. My 60 - 80 liter pack only weighs 4 lbs. I bought Spantiks, which are a bit lighter than others, so that I might keep my toes and feet. The new Spot device is also smaller and lighter. A good down bag is also very light and one could use a relatively light bag if you wear all your clothes in it. I'm also now a convert to merino wool for base layers. It's very warm for the weight and does not hold odor as much.


I think your comments on crampon points etc. are spot on. I noticed that the higher end axes seem to be much sharper than say the Camp models. I have the standard Grivel 12s but I'm going to upgrade to Camp or maybe Black Diamond crampons that I can use for ice climbing or Alpine work.
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Postby Buckaroo » Sat Dec 19, 2009 7:05 pm

Wasn't talking heavier as in heavier gear necessarily, just in more of it. Although some of it is heavier like a thicker puff jacket. For the same grade fill thicker is going to be heavier.

On a day climb with a 3 person team you could take one light bag, especially if one person is stronger than the others, but it might be considered optional.

Go-lite makes a pack in the 75 liter range that weighs less than 2 pounds but you have to get used to the light suspension. On a day climb like this you shouldn't need a pack that big though.

Most of the light alpine axes don't work that well on a big hard ice face. You need weight to get easier sticks. Sharp as in recently sharpened. Function as in does it work on waterfall ice. Aluminum axes pons are def out in winter on something this size/magnitude, and probably questionable even in summer.
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Postby albanberg » Sat Dec 19, 2009 7:32 pm

Yeah, I hear you, I have just noticed a lot of people with heavy gear and looking tired. And, yes bringing along the extra gear is, of course, heavier than not.

On the packs: I have a fairly light GoLite, but I'm getting rid of it. I'm into the Cilo Gear stuff now as it is much more comfortable for me. I think GoLite is not making that really light pack anymore.

Anyway, I appreciate your comments!
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