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When to report missing hiker/ climber/ mountaineer?

Discussion of medical or rescue topics related to climbing and mountaineering.
 

When to report missing hiker/ climber/ mountaineer?

Postby Joe White » Tue Jul 20, 2010 5:28 am

Do you leave a detailed itinerary with a friend or family member, with an agreed upon arrival time?

When should a friend or family member report that you're "missing"?

What is your practice?
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Postby brianhughes » Tue Jul 20, 2010 6:12 am

Actual conversation as grubby hiker came dragging in the front door:

wife - "I've been missing you the last couple days"
hiker - "I've been gone more than a week"
wife - "Yeah, I know"
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Postby hol571 » Tue Jul 20, 2010 9:28 pm

as a hiker I always leave an itinerary with someone, and I prefer to let them know a time when I plan on being back, and a time when they should call SAR if they haven't heard from me. The difference between the two times varies depending on the trip / expected conditions.

as a SAR member I'd say if they've only given a return time, a little bit of judgement might be in order before you report them missing , but if you're in doubt call the sheriff SAR coordinator. He/she can make the judgement call for you and start planning on what resources to request so that there is no delay when they are needed. I'd rather get turned around enroute because someone has hiked out a little bit later than expected rather than deal w/ a bad outcome

some important things to include on the itinerary include a vehicle description/plate number so a quick check can be made at a trailhead to confirm they are still out there
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Postby mrchad9 » Tue Jul 20, 2010 9:59 pm

hol571 wrote:but if you're in doubt call the sheriff SAR coordinator. He/she can make the judgement call for you

OP is an excellent question, I've wondered what is appropriate as well.

+1 to that response too.
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Postby b. » Tue Jul 20, 2010 10:25 pm

I climbed Serendipity Arete on Mt. Owen in the Tetons a few years ago. It's a long, grade IV 5.9. On the way down, it started to rain and the descent didn't look as easy as it was supposed to be. After wandering around for a while, we rapped down two full ropelengths just as it got dark. Out of water and in a hurry we blasted past the descent gully twice without recognizing it. At some point we realized that it was going to be a long night, so we found some water, sat down and ate a little food. When we started again we walked right to the spot and down to the tent. The plan was to camp at the trailhead Friday night, hike in to Valhalla Canyon Saturday, then climb, hike out and drive home on Sunday. We didn't make it home Sunday night, we spent another night in Valhalla before hiking out early Monday morning. When I called my wife, she told me that they had already called the ranger station and were told to "give 'em another day, people get spanked on that route all the time."

The moral of the story is, if you have to ask yourself whether or not you should call rescue personnel, you probably should. They usually have a good gauge of what we fools are up to. To reiterate the above sentiment, I would also rather meet a lost person at the trailhead than head out a day late for a body recovery.
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Postby Arthur Digbee » Tue Jul 20, 2010 10:41 pm

If, like us, you use texting to provide "I'm OK" updates because of poor backcountry reception, keep in mind that these texts can be delayed a day in delivery even if the phone says "Message Sent."

Yeah, there's a story behind that one. :oops:
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Postby lcarreau » Wed Jul 21, 2010 1:03 am

Spouses and significant others should develop an understanding as to the reality of the
situation.

It's their own fault if they don't have a complete itinerary and basic knowledge of where
their friend or partner is at any given time.

Perhaps a little bit of tolerance and flexibility is in order. At least, according to Doctor Phil.

Image
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Postby fossana » Wed Jul 21, 2010 1:26 am

I leave an itinerary with a friend. As most of my trips are 'day trips' (</=24 h), my SAR trigger is noon the following day.
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Postby Joe White » Wed Jul 21, 2010 1:35 am

fossana wrote:I leave an itinerary with a friend. As most of my trips are 'day trips' (</=24 h), my SAR trigger is noon the following day.


Yeah Fossanna, that is my practice as well.
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Backstop

Postby outdoorabstract » Wed Jul 21, 2010 2:25 am

I always include the route itinerary including parking location and vehicle ID plus route choice. I then leave a time for the check-in and the instruction for my SO is to call SAR if I don't check-in by the appointed time. Granted, the time checkpoint that I leave with her has significant extra time built in to prevent a call-out when everything is actually okay.
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Postby lcarreau » Wed Jul 21, 2010 2:58 am

Catamount wrote:I tell my wife to wait at least a week before reporting me overdue. This will give me a good headstart.


:lol:
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Postby Brad Marshall » Wed Jul 21, 2010 4:46 am

Catamount wrote:I tell my wife to wait at least a week before reporting me overdue. This will give me a good headstart.


:lol: :lol: :lol:

Come to think of it my wife probably wouldn't call anyone!
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Postby Snackem » Tue Jul 27, 2010 11:35 pm

To answer the question, I tell my family and friends that if they have not heard from me by 12:00 PM the day after I'm supposed to call/arrive home/check in. I also leave a detailed plan at home with details of where we're going, the route we're taking, vehicle liscense number and any other helpful information (that way if something happens my wife doesn't have to remember all the info she needs to relay to search and rescue, she can simply hand over the piece of paper, or she can email a copy of it).

Why go through all that trouble?

When I was 16 I went fishing with two of my friends and I broke my foot. We sent one friend up the canyon to our truck and we decided to hike out the bottom where we would be picked up. Unfortunately not having a map of the area what my friend swore was a 1/2 day hike turned out to be 39 miles as the crow flies through some pretty nasty terrain. Search and Rescue looked for us but never found us (despite flying over us twice in a helicopter and missing us both times). We spent three days and 2 nights with only the clothes we were wearing (Jeans, sleeveless t-shirts, boots, hat and a knife each).

Fortunately we were on a river so even though we were a long way from where we wanted to be we were never "lost" and we were never in real danger. That experience did open my eyes up a lot about being prepared and what can happen if you are not--as we were woefully under prepared and very lucky to have come out of the ordeal in the manner that we did.
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