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View Full Version : Another lost hiker search - Madison Gulf



peakbagger
06-15-2016, 07:07 AM
http://www.conwaydailysun.com/newsx/local-news/126511-four-lost-hikers-found-early-tuesday

I revisited Madison Gulf Trail last year and had a heck of time staying on it compared to in the past. Many of the stream crossings are diagonal across the stream and the undergrowth has filled in the initial openings to the woods from the stream side. There was no recent evidence of any trimming last year. Folks put in small temporary cairns at most crossings but I expect they are removed as part of the wilderness experience. Once the opening to the woods is found on the opposite side of the stream, the trail bed is very obvious but given the number of crossings and the grown in nature of the trail I can see where folks get lost.

For those with the skills, its a challenging wild trail which reminds me of a temperate rain forest. Unlike many WMNF trails following the blazes may not be enough, map skills are definitely recommended. Lot of nice old spruce and fir. Combining it in loop with Osgood trail make a nice long day hike. Even on busy weekend its rare to see many folks on the Madison Gulf Trail as most recommendations are to only ascend thus there I not a lot of hikers descending.

I am surprised that they had good enough cell coverage to be located. Good to hear that everyone made it out.

sardog1
06-15-2016, 08:25 AM
When I taught navigation, it usually ended with a field exercise on a orienteering course with students organized in small teams. They had prior hands-on instruction from me in using map and compass together.

They were instructed as follows:

1. You can go to the marked points in any order you choose.

2. No one moves from any point, including the one you're standing at right now, without unanimity on the following items:

Where you are currently on the map
Where you are going to next
How you will get there


3. If you're the one person who disagrees with the others, speak up. Nobody moves until there is unanimity. There is often one strong personality in a group who is convinced he or she is right and persuades the others to go along. Sometimes he or she is not right. If the three items on the list cannot be explained to the satisfaction of everyone in the group, you're not ready to move your feet yet.

Barkingcat
06-15-2016, 09:31 AM
…Nobody moves until there is unanimity. There is often one strong personality in a group who is convinced he or she is right and persuades the others to go along. Sometimes he or she is not right. If the three items on the list cannot be explained to the satisfaction of everyone in the group, you're not ready to move your feet yet.

Agreed. Thank you for this.

skiguy
06-15-2016, 11:35 AM
When I taught navigation, it usually ended with a field exercise on a orienteering course with students organized in small teams. They had prior hands-on instruction from me in using map and compass together.

They were instructed as follows:

1. You can go to the marked points in any order you choose.

2. No one moves from any point, including the one you're standing at right now, without unanimity on the following items:

Where you are currently on the map
Where you are going to next
How you will get there


3. If you're the one person who disagrees with the others, speak up. Nobody moves until there is unanimity. There is often one strong personality in a group who is convinced he or she is right and persuades the others to go along. Sometimes he or she is not right. If the three items on the list cannot be explained to the satisfaction of everyone in the group, you're not ready to move your feet yet.
Excellent!

DayTrip
06-15-2016, 11:43 AM
These incidents continue to baffle me. If the weather was poor why were they taking a route like this, and when did they start? If they called 911 around 7:30 PM and were around 4000' what time did they start hiking? Late day start, poor weather, not equipped for said weather. Over and over and over.....

Breeze
06-15-2016, 12:26 PM
Daytrip, all you really have to do is go hang out at PNVC , or the dispatch desk at MWAR, or eavesdrop at the MWAR tollhouse. Probably the same thing happens at Highland Center.
You'll quickly understand how woefully unprepared so many " hikers" truly are.

Where is the trail head ?? ( at 12:30 in the afternoon).

Which trail head ???

The one that goes up the mountain.

Which mountain ??

Ohm we didn't know there was more than one , Whats up with that???? Which one should we climb?

None of them starting at this hour.........

Whadaya mean, it doesn't get dark until 9 PM. We have PLENTY of time.


( and that is just the initial conversation , never mind weather and forecast)

Easy to understand. Hard to change.

dug
06-15-2016, 12:32 PM
These incidents continue to baffle me. If the weather was poor why were they taking a route like this, and when did they start? If they called 911 around 7:30 PM and were around 4000' what time did they start hiking? Late day start, poor weather, not equipped for said weather. Over and over and over.....

Happens to the best of us. Growing up, I was caught on Bondcliff in a storm we didn't expect. Staying at the old Franconia Falls campsite. Mother, three kids under the age of 13, dressed in workbooks/sneakers, Levi's, cotton sweatshirts, and probably a sandwich or two. Made a mad dash back to the site by nightfall.

So, add, over and over and over as it goes back at least 35 years, and probably much longer. And, will keep going for much longer.

sierra
06-15-2016, 01:17 PM
These incidents continue to baffle me. If the weather was poor why were they taking a route like this, and when did they start? If they called 911 around 7:30 PM and were around 4000' what time did they start hiking? Late day start, poor weather, not equipped for said weather. Over and over and over.....

Stick around for a few year's and you will just shrug it off. Incidents like this are nothing new and are not going away. In fact, thanks to social media, they will increase. Dug made a good point as well, I have more then one story about screwing the pooch early in my career, I even have a tent somewhere high on the Carter Range I aborted one night, knowing at the stage of hypothermia I was in, it was book it down for the road at once, or never get there at all.

peakbagger
06-15-2016, 02:34 PM
The article states the rescuers hiked back down to Appalachia but no mention of the rescued party hiking down. They may have had reservations to stay at Madison Hut and decided that they wanted to take a different route to the hut instead of Valley Way. The AMC guide used to warn folks that Madison Gulf Trail was not a good option for hiking to the hut with pack on and someone told me once that they were even warning people with reservations not to take this route but perhaps they no longer do so or the hikers elected to ignore the warning. Many hut visitors take their time heading up the hut in the afternoon so they get there for supper. I believe the weather was reasonable earlier in the day and front came through during late afternoon. Madison Gulf trail gets progressive steeper the farther in you go so they may not have realized they were in trouble until the weather came through.

DayTrip
06-16-2016, 09:51 AM
Happens to the best of us. Growing up, I was caught on Bondcliff in a storm we didn't expect. Staying at the old Franconia Falls campsite. Mother, three kids under the age of 13, dressed in workbooks/sneakers, Levi's, cotton sweatshirts, and probably a sandwich or two. Made a mad dash back to the site by nightfall.

So, add, over and over and over as it goes back at least 35 years, and probably much longer. And, will keep going for much longer.

Please don't take this as a criticism or negative personal attack on you. I don't mean it at all this way. I am far from perfect and likely far less experienced than you are in the woods. But when I hear the phrases "surprised by a storm" or "unexpected weather" my mind immediately translates that into "didn't check the forecast so I had no idea what the weather was".

If you know the forecast when are you ever surprised by the weather? Sure storms may be more severe than forecast (like a very festive microburst I got caught in 2 years ago coming back from Owl's Head) but when have you ever been out hiking where the forecast was for a partly cloudy 60 degree day and you were surprised by 40 mph wind driven rain? I can't think of a single time in my 100+ hikes over the past 4 years where I was surprised by the weather. Sure I've seen more or less clouds than forecast, slightly higher or lower winds but never got caught once in weather I was completely and totally not expecting. The only way that seems possible is not checking and knowing the weather, at least in New England. I'm sure the Himalayas and other more dramatic ranges have a bigger increase in variability.

DayTrip
06-16-2016, 10:06 AM
Stick around for a few year's and you will just shrug it off. Incidents like this are nothing new and are not going away. In fact, thanks to social media, they will increase. Dug made a good point as well, I have more then one story about screwing the pooch early in my career, I even have a tent somewhere high on the Carter Range I aborted one night, knowing at the stage of hypothermia I was in, it was book it down for the road at once, or never get there at all.

I'm certainly learning that the past few years. Everyone is a beginner at some point (the first time I climbed Mt Washington I wore a Patriots sweatshirt, jean shorts, no socks, some of the most worn out basketball sneakers you'll ever come across, a 32 oz gatorade and two snickers bars). But even then I checked the weather and looked at a map to see what trails I should take before heading out. A lot of the clueless (maybe uninformed is a better word) people I meet and read about though have been out many times and still do not seem to have learned anything from their prior trips. In a lot of cases they actually have some of the gear and the clothes but they just have no conception about the terrain or what the weather is. I guess maybe we just make hiking in the Whites seem far more hazardous than it really is. If it was really that bad there would be way more incidents. If you pick a half way decent weather day and are willing to endure some discomfort you are going to get out of the woods just fine despite having no clue what you are doing.

And then there are just plain stubborn people. Two weeks ago I did a loop out of Pinkham Notch up Nelson Crag, across the flanks of Washington and down the Glen Boulder trail. Descending down toward Slide Peak I met a mother/daughter with minimal clothing and very small packs. When I asked "How's it going?" the mother paused and then said "Mediocre" with a disgusted look and briefly chronicled what a ball buster it was coming up Glen Boulder trail and the climb. It was 2:30 PM. I asked where they were heading and she said Isolation. I hinted at the fact that they still had a lot of walking to do (we were above the trees so I pointed to where Isolation was so they could get a visual on how much was left just to get to the summit) and whether they were coming back same way or taking Rocky Branch. She said Rocky Branch. She asked how far it was and based on where were on Glen Boulder Trail I estimated 10 miles. I discussed the many river crossings and the tricky wet area on the way out and they seemed undeterred despite really not seeming to know the route and trails. So at 2:40 PM they set out toward Isolation. 10 miles of travel with 6 hours to sunset. Not sure what they ultimately did but I suspect they had a miserable time of it if the 4 miles on Glen Boulder were unenjoyable.

dug
06-16-2016, 10:08 AM
It's less likely to be surprised by a storm today vs. years ago. Before, you watched the news, got the weather, and rolled the dice.

But, today, it's still not unheard of. Maybe they planned on a 4 hour hike, storm due to kick in after 6, will be at the hut by then....plenty of time. Or, out for a few days backpacking, and what looked good then changed 48 hours after your last checked (I've had that happen). Or, possibly, one could be not aware of weather in Pinkham Notch is totally different from what's on the ridges. I've seen "light winds and showers" mean 40+ MPH winds and sleet.

And, no offense at all and right back at ya'. I just mean to say that you can't beat experience as a lesson. Like many, I look back at things done years ago and am quite surprised I'm here to type this. Hoping these individuals got home and said "welp, that won't happen again".

DayTrip
06-16-2016, 10:11 AM
It's less likely to be surprised by a storm today vs. years ago. Before, you watched the news, got the weather, and rolled the dice.

But, today, it's still not unheard of. Maybe they planned on a 4 hour hike, storm due to kick in after 6, will be at the hut by then....plenty of time. Or, out for a few days backpacking, and what looked good then changed 48 hours after your last checked (I've had that happen). Or, possibly, one could be not aware of weather in Pinkham Notch is totally different from what's on the ridges. I've seen "light winds and showers" mean 40+ MPH winds and sleet.

And, no offense at all and right back at ya'. I just mean to say that you can't beat experience as a lesson. Like many, I look back at things done years ago and am quite surprised I'm here to type this. Hoping these individuals got home and said "welp, that won't happen again".

That's a fair point. I was thinking in terms of "now" with all the tools and data we have now but back in the day it was a different ball game. You definitely learn lessons as time goes by - thankfully.

sierra
06-16-2016, 01:14 PM
I'm certainly learning that the past few years. Everyone is a beginner at some point (the first time I climbed Mt Washington I wore a Patriots sweatshirt, jean shorts, no socks, some of the most worn out basketball sneakers you'll ever come across, a 32 oz gatorade and two snickers bars). But even then I checked the weather and looked at a map to see what trails I should take before heading out. A lot of the clueless (maybe uninformed is a better word) people I meet and read about though have been out many times and still do not seem to have learned anything from their prior trips. In a lot of cases they actually have some of the gear and the clothes but they just have no conception about the terrain or what the weather is. I guess maybe we just make hiking in the Whites seem far more hazardous than it really is. If it was really that bad there would be way more incidents. If you pick a half way decent weather day and are willing to endure some discomfort you are going to get out of the woods just fine despite having no clue what you are doing.

And then there are just plain stubborn people. Two weeks ago I did a loop out of Pinkham Notch up Nelson Crag, across the flanks of Washington and down the Glen Boulder trail. Descending down toward Slide Peak I met a mother/daughter with minimal clothing and very small packs. When I asked "How's it going?" the mother paused and then said "Mediocre" with a disgusted look and briefly chronicled what a ball buster it was coming up Glen Boulder trail and the climb. It was 2:30 PM. I asked where they were heading and she said Isolation. I hinted at the fact that they still had a lot of walking to do (we were above the trees so I pointed to where Isolation was so they could get a visual on how much was left just to get to the summit) and whether they were coming back same way or taking Rocky Branch. She said Rocky Branch. She asked how far it was and based on where were on Glen Boulder Trail I estimated 10 miles. I discussed the many river crossings and the tricky wet area on the way out and they seemed undeterred despite really not seeming to know the route and trails. So at 2:40 PM they set out toward Isolation. 10 miles of travel with 6 hours to sunset. Not sure what they ultimately did but I suspect they had a miserable time of it if the 4 miles on Glen Boulder were unenjoyable.

I would say that in the Winter the Mountains actually are pretty dangerous, the board on Washington's summit is around 127 deaths or so. Even in the summer, the amount of rescues is pretty high. Yes, many rescues result from poor knowledge or bad decision making, but if it was safe even these rescues would be fewer. It's really not so much just danger, it's location. If you break your ankle on Elm st. in Manchester you just get picked up, do it on Boott Spur, it's a rescue, do it in cold wind and rain, it's an emergency situation. For the even average hiker, I agree the mountains are not too dangerous, to the unaware and unprepared, they are most assuredly dangerous. I guess I base my opinion on how many deaths I've heard about in the years I've been hiking, it's actually a high number, compared to other sports.

CaptCaper
06-16-2016, 01:28 PM
That's a fair point. I was thinking in terms of "now" with all the tools and data we have now but back in the day it was a different ball game. You definitely learn lessons as time goes by - thankfully.

My 2 cents... They push the limits now still. That's why there are still lot's of rescues and deaths up there...They think the front won't come in until dark blah blah etc. .cause the some of the 12 weather models were calling it. So they go out and whammm they get nailed......why??? .cause you can't predict the weather until about 30 min before actually.

I always never hiked up high unless there was a nice High Pressure system settled in over us .. and not moving out anytime soon.. 2nd day of this usually is less wind and very nice.

DayTrip
06-16-2016, 01:53 PM
I was talking about the general "amateur season", roughly Memorial Day to Labor Day. Of those deaths on Mt Washington, not all of which are hiking related, how many tens of thousands of hikers successfully went up and down without incident? It's not like an Annapurna situation where 1 of 2 people who reach the summit die on the way back. And obviously Winter introduces a much greater probability of weather related problems and issues. It is probably not a kept statistic for obvious reasons but it would be interesting to see the percentage of rescues expressed against the total number of hikers. When you figure there is maybe 1 rescue per few weekends relative to the thousands of hikers out on those weekends that has to be a very low incident rate. And in Winter it seems like a lot of the issues are not newbies but experienced hikers who pushed beyond their limits versus being unaware of the dangers. Knowledge is not the issue for these.

I try to look at the risk as the sum total of the probabilities of a given event happening. For the typical weekend warrior, they generally go out in good weather, generally take popular trails so there are lots of people to help and these routes are relatively short and not overly technical. So the probability of running into a weather related problem, with no one around to help or answer questions, while trying to do something the average person is not comfortable with is indeed pretty low. Not impossible, just very low. Knowledge doesn't factor into the equation much in these situations because it is not called upon or needed. Danger is present all the time but the probability of it rearing it's ugly head varies greatly from situation to situation. The probability of getting lost and succumbing to hypothermia on Mt Osceola on the Saturday of 4th of July weekend isn't the same as that possibility on the 3rd Tue of December on Mt Jefferson (which you obviously know with your experience). Both hikes but the variables are different. So I guess that is a long winded way of saying that the probability of needing the knowledge in a given situation varies a lot so the ill-informed for the most part hike unscathed from calamities.

One of the books I read recently had an interesting section analyzing risk for hiking events and put into three different categories. Can't recall the specifics off the top of my head but it was an interesting take on the subject. If I'm not mistaken someone here on VFTT a year or so ago posted a fairly detailed and thought out discussion on risk assessment and the many, many variables involved. I think it may have been in the wake of the Kate Mastrova incident. Was another interesting read.

Raven
06-16-2016, 04:51 PM
When you figure there is maybe 1 rescue per few weekends relative to the thousands of hikers out on those weekends that has to be a very low incident rate.

It's closer to 1 rescue every other day on average. Over the past five years, the average number of missions has been 180+/year in NH.

The NHF&G website has some data on it.

Just anecdotally, on reading about these incidents, it seems to me many of these are people who get caught after dark with no light source and/or get lost or disoriented with no map nor compass.

You make some good points.

peakbagger
06-16-2016, 05:44 PM
If you want to see where most of F&G time is spent these days its Ride the Wilds, there are serious accidents weekly with numerous crashes. F&G is somewhat better equipped for those rescues as ATVs so the rescues tend to be less volunteer intensive. I also think the press tends to publicize the ATV accidents less as they are big money maker in the north country. It also maybe the Rt 2 effect wherein the its north of RT2 which is over the end of the earth so no need to report about it;)

sierra
06-16-2016, 07:19 PM
I was talking about the general "amateur season", roughly Memorial Day to Labor Day. Of those deaths on Mt Washington, not all of which are hiking related, how many tens of thousands of hikers successfully went up and down without incident? It's not like an Annapurna situation where 1 of 2 people who reach the summit die on the way back. And obviously Winter introduces a much greater probability of weather related problems and issues. It is probably not a kept statistic for obvious reasons but it would be interesting to see the percentage of rescues expressed against the total number of hikers. When you figure there is maybe 1 rescue per few weekends relative to the thousands of hikers out on those weekends that has to be a very low incident rate. And in Winter it seems like a lot of the issues are not newbies but experienced hikers who pushed beyond their limits versus being unaware of the dangers. Knowledge is not the issue for these.

I try to look at the risk as the sum total of the probabilities of a given event happening. For the typical weekend warrior, they generally go out in good weather, generally take popular trails so there are lots of people to help and these routes are relatively short and not overly technical. So the probability of running into a weather related problem, with no one around to help or answer questions, while trying to do something the average person is not comfortable with is indeed pretty low. Not impossible, just very low. Knowledge doesn't factor into the equation much in these situations because it is not called upon or needed. Danger is present all the time but the probability of it rearing it's ugly head varies greatly from situation to situation. The probability of getting lost and succumbing to hypothermia on Mt Osceola on the Saturday of 4th of July weekend isn't the same as that possibility on the 3rd Tue of December on Mt Jefferson (which you obviously know with your experience). Both hikes but the variables are different. So I guess that is a long winded way of saying that the probability of needing the knowledge in a given situation varies a lot so the ill-informed for the most part hike unscathed from calamities.

One of the books I read recently had an interesting section analyzing risk for hiking events and put into three different categories. Can't recall the specifics off the top of my head but it was an interesting take on the subject. If I'm not mistaken someone here on VFTT a year or so ago posted a fairly detailed and thought out discussion on risk assessment and the many, many variables involved. I think it may have been in the wake of the Kate Mastrova incident. Was another interesting read.

I would respectfully disagree that the majority of winter rescues result from experienced climbers pushing beyond their limits, I have no hard data, but those incidents are not that common. It's more related to hikers getting in over their head ie. lacking the skillset to be out there in certain conditions. A lot of rescues in the summer result from getting benighted or losing the trail, both a direct result of a weak skillset. A guide I used to climb with, introduced me to the term " Intelligent Risk Management'' In a nutshell, it is the managing of a climb from start to finish to minimize the risk you expose yourself too. Summer brings must less risk, that's why so many inexperienced hikers come away unscathed, BUT not all. This group on Madison Gulf is a perfect example. Tough route, late in the day, worsening weather, all risk that combined to up the anti until they were overwhelmed. A more experienced team could have come up with a number of solutions that would have prevented the need for a rescue. Do you need a wealth of knowledge to hike in the summer? I guess not because many hike without it and like you say Get away without it. But if you look at each rescue in detail, outside of a physical injury ( broken bone) the lack of knowledge or skillset is the root cause.

dug
06-17-2016, 06:29 AM
If you want to see where most of F&G time is spent these days its Ride the Wilds, there are serious accidents weekly with numerous crashes. F&G is somewhat better equipped for those rescues as ATVs so the rescues tend to be less volunteer intensive. I also think the press tends to publicize the ATV accidents less as they are big money maker in the north country. It also maybe the Rt 2 effect wherein the its north of RT2 which is over the end of the earth so no need to report about it;)


I think there is also a delineation between "search" and "rescue". Rescuing is often utilizing volunteers, and while difficult (I've helped before), it's not necessarily costly. Also to your point, ATV accidents are a motor vehicle accident, so it's hauling someone out and in most cases, there's a road so the haul is easier to rescue.

The search aspect of a lost hiker (or, lost person anywhere in the state) I would think is the most costly, and the most irritating for most. Seems many times it would be preventable with some knowledge. Gaining that knowledge is the challenge.

I would think a rescue is more often an accident that could happen to anyone at anytime, so draws less ire.

DayTrip
06-17-2016, 08:17 AM
It's closer to 1 rescue every other day on average. Over the past five years, the average number of missions has been 180+/year in NH.

The NHF&G website has some data on it.

Just anecdotally, on reading about these incidents, it seems to me many of these are people who get caught after dark with no light source and/or get lost or disoriented with no map nor compass.

You make some good points.

Is it that high? I get the SAR Facebook group posts and obviously see the posts here on VFTT and it doesn't seem that high, although it comes in spurts. Even 180 or 200 a year divided among thousands and thousands of hikers has to be a pretty good ratio relative to lots of other activities. I guess I associate rescues with an injured hiker but it is true that there are a lot of lost ones as well.

DayTrip
06-17-2016, 08:29 AM
I would respectfully disagree that the majority of winter rescues result from experienced climbers pushing beyond their limits, I have no hard data, but those incidents are not that common. It's more related to hikers getting in over their head ie. lacking the skillset to be out there in certain conditions. A lot of rescues in the summer result from getting benighted or losing the trail, both a direct result of a weak skillset. A guide I used to climb with, introduced me to the term " Intelligent Risk Management'' In a nutshell, it is the managing of a climb from start to finish to minimize the risk you expose yourself too. Summer brings must less risk, that's why so many inexperienced hikers come away unscathed, BUT not all. This group on Madison Gulf is a perfect example. Tough route, late in the day, worsening weather, all risk that combined to up the anti until they were overwhelmed. A more experienced team could have come up with a number of solutions that would have prevented the need for a rescue. Do you need a wealth of knowledge to hike in the summer? I guess not because many hike without it and like you say Get away without it. But if you look at each rescue in detail, outside of a physical injury ( broken bone) the lack of knowledge or skillset is the root cause.

You may be right on the Winter rescues. I have no hard data either but it seems like most of the publicized rescues (fatalities and nasty accidents) in recent years were very experienced hikers (Kate Mastrova, the guide they found in Castle Ravine, the extreme skier in King Ravine a few years ago). And most of the Winter rescues seem to be people that had the proper gear but underestimated the weather. So if they had the gear it would seem they at least did a minimal amount of research to know what to expect and what they would need for it. I suppose I'm missing some of the less publicized ones.

It is too bad there isn't a definitive source of recorded incidents and root cause listed. I would think some very definitive patterns would be visible about time of day, time of year, experience, gear, etc, etc. This is a fascinating topic for me as a hiker. I suppose it isn't unique to hiking though, just a general population phenomenon. How many people buy a chain saw to cut a tree down and then drop it on their house or take a hand off because they didn't look into how it operates. I suppose as a percentage of chain saw owners that is a low number too but it is the same thing.

And to your emphasis on reemphasizing experience I hope I'm not painting the picture that I don't think it matters. I'm just saying that whether it is needed or not is situational. When the probability of an incident increases for any given event, proper knowledge dramatically increases the chances of a favorable outcome. The Madison Gulf incident sounds like one that could have been easily avoided with a little knowledge and/or common sense.

DayTrip
06-17-2016, 08:33 AM
I think there is also a delineation between "search" and "rescue". Rescuing is often utilizing volunteers, and while difficult (I've helped before), it's not necessarily costly. Also to your point, ATV accidents are a motor vehicle accident, so it's hauling someone out and in most cases, there's a road so the haul is easier to rescue.

The search aspect of a lost hiker (or, lost person anywhere in the state) I would think is the most costly, and the most irritating for most. Seems many times it would be preventable with some knowledge. Gaining that knowledge is the challenge.

I would think a rescue is more often an accident that could happen to anyone at anytime, so draws less ire.

That is a good distinction between "search" and "rescue". An experienced, knowledgeable hiker with the proper gear probably almost never needs assistance to get out of the woods whereas even the best of hikers, knowledgeable and preparedand doing nothing wrong can get injured and need help to get out of the woods.

sierra
06-17-2016, 11:14 AM
You may be right on the Winter rescues. I have no hard data either but it seems like most of the publicized rescues (fatalities and nasty accidents) in recent years were very experienced hikers (Kate Mastrova, the guide they found in Castle Ravine, the extreme skier in King Ravine a few years ago). And most of the Winter rescues seem to be people that had the proper gear but underestimated the weather. So if they had the gear it would seem they at least did a minimal amount of research to know what to expect and what they would need for it. I suppose I'm missing some of the less publicized ones.

It is too bad there isn't a definitive source of recorded incidents and root cause listed. I would think some very definitive patterns would be visible about time of day, time of year, experience, gear, etc, etc. This is a fascinating topic for me as a hiker. I suppose it isn't unique to hiking though, just a general population phenomenon. How many people buy a chain saw to cut a tree down and then drop it on their house or take a hand off because they didn't look into how it operates. I suppose as a percentage of chain saw owners that is a low number too but it is the same thing.

And to your emphasis on reemphasizing experience I hope I'm not painting the picture that I don't think it matters. I'm just saying that whether it is needed or not is situational. When the probability of an incident increases for any given event, proper knowledge dramatically increases the chances of a favorable outcome. The Madison Gulf incident sounds like one that could have been easily avoided with a little knowledge and/or common sense.

In regards to Kate, I believe she simply underestimated the conditions and she got in too deep. The guide you mentioned was a strange case and I could not see a root cause, given his experience, I think he had a medical issue, but I could be wrong. It just seemed like given his last location, descent was very possible, but not being there, speculation is all we have.

DayTrip
06-17-2016, 11:40 AM
In regards to Kate, I believe she simply underestimated the conditions and she got in too deep. The guide you mentioned was a strange case and I could not see a root cause, given his experience, I think he had a medical issue, but I could be wrong. It just seemed like given his last location, descent was very possible, but not being there, speculation is all we have.

Weather is definitely the number one risk factor that impacts the probabilities of so many other things happening. It's so important yet so many give it minimal or no consideration. I watch a lot of You Tube documentaries on the elite climbers and it is amazing how even climbers at that level ignore the weather due to summit fever.

dug
06-17-2016, 12:14 PM
I wouldn't call it ignoring, per se. More of a minimizing the effects, or maximizing one's abilities. In Kate's case, IMO, she knew what was coming and was, dare I say...somewhat glad? If she was training for high peaks to get herself used to that type of weather, the only way to do it is to experience it. Looked like a good opportunity to experience high-altitude type weather and still only be a few miles from safety.

sierra
06-17-2016, 03:29 PM
I wouldn't call it ignoring, per se. More of a minimizing the effects, or maximizing one's abilities. In Kate's case, IMO, she knew what was coming and was, dare I say...somewhat glad? If she was training for high peaks to get herself used to that type of weather, the only way to do it is to experience it. Looked like a good opportunity to experience high-altitude type weather and still only be a few miles from safety.

Very interesting point and I would say you might just be right. That being said, even if those exact conditions were on a high peak in some famous range, without fixed ropes and a high altitude suit, it was too tough to advance.

sardog1
06-19-2016, 12:00 PM
It's closer to 1 rescue every other day on average. Over the past five years, the average number of missions has been 180+/year in NH..

I don't have time right now to run this to earth, but I'm pretty sure that number includes all SAR responses by F&G statewide, which means it includes everything from snowshoers wandering in error onto the Dry River Trail to Alzheimer's cases in Salem.

Raven
06-19-2016, 04:41 PM
I don't have time right now to run this to earth, but I'm pretty sure that number includes all SAR responses by F&G statewide, which means it includes everything from snowshoers wandering in error onto the Dry River Trail to Alzheimer's cases in Salem.

Yes, those numbers are for every case in the state led by F&G for which a report is generated. Thanks - good to point out that this is a range of incidents and also includes the entire state of NH, and would even include the yearly dive team missions in there. I am not sure what the numbers are involving actual hikers or other subgroups. My suspicion is that hikers represent the largest single group and that the WMNF is the most common area for incidents.