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View Full Version : Hiker dies on Bondcliff Christmas Eve



peakbagger
12-26-2016, 12:45 PM
http://www.unionleader.com/article/20161226/NEWS07/161229506

RIP

Remix
12-26-2016, 03:43 PM
Terrible tragedy for him and his loved ones. Only 26 and with adequate gear for a hike, perhaps it was an issue of losing traction.

sierra
12-26-2016, 04:51 PM
According to a report on FB, looks like he died of hypothermia. The Rangers ended up spending time in a emergency shelter, facing sub-zero wind chills themselves.

peakbagger
12-26-2016, 05:00 PM
News interview with NH F&G said there was strong indication of hypothermia. Hiker was putting on clothes but some of it was on backwards/unzipped.

When driving south over Pinkham Notch and down to Portland early Christmas morning, I saw signs of heavy winds the previous night and it was quite windy going up and over Pinkham.

I personally have been caught upprepared coming out of the woods to the Bondcliff summit in winter conditions, the approach via the old logging dugway is pretty well sheltered and soon after the cliff section the exposure changes radically.

Remix
12-26-2016, 05:20 PM
Hmm, I was misled by the phrase "experienced hiker and adequate equipment" in the initial report.

Raven
12-27-2016, 04:49 AM
More info:

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/videos/mass-hiker-killed-hiking-nh-mountain-on-christmas-eve/vp-BBxB92m

peakbagger
12-27-2016, 06:19 AM
Hmm, I was misled by the phrase "experienced hiker and adequate equipment" in the initial report.

The deceased could have been experienced and had adequate equipment and still been caught by hypothermia. Its insidious, and can sneak up quick. Many particularly physically fit folks can keep up a good hiking pace and end up with minimal gear on as they are generating enough heat that they don't need much gear on. Once out of the woods on Bondcliff, there is zero cover, if you don't gear up in the woods in advance of breaking treeline in high winds, getting additional gear on is very difficult. In cold weather the first thing lost with hypothermia is clear thinking followed quickly by loss of control of the extremities. A hiker can have a pack full of warm gear but if they cant open the pack because they cant open the buckles, that gear is useless. I and many others carry gear in ziplock bags inside the pack. In extreme conditions (high winds and cold) I have gone from warm to unable to open a ziplock bag due to loss of dexterity in less than 5 minutes, I ended up having to tear the ziplock bag open with my teeth. Putting on a jacket in high winds and cold can be quite a challenge if not impossible and with the claimed 10 to 15 degree below temps and high winds I expect that it was just a matter of minutes before a few missed tries turns into a survival situation. I expect a driver in this situation is that the hiker was probably working on a list and had just hiked for several hours getting just short of the summit, in what was pretty good winter hiking conditions (minimal snow). I expect the temptation is to go that last 1/4 of mile to check off the summit rather than coming back another time was high. Add in mild hypothermia and its a dangerous combination.

Generally solo winter hiking introduces additional risk to an inherently risky sport, it can be managed like other winter risks. A Fish and Game official at one point made a blanket statement that solo winter hiking was inherently reckless. I don't agree I personally solo winter hike but get decidedly conservative. I know of a few times where I have had to help another hiker and have been helped by another individual when I have been unable to get gear on. One of my standard comments on what constitutes a hiking partner versus someone I am hiking with is that a hiking partner is someone who I have hiked with and we both mutually agreed to turn around short of summit.

sardog1
12-27-2016, 06:41 AM
The deceased could have been experienced and had adequate equipment and still been caught by hypothermia. Its insidious, and can sneak up quick. Many particularly physically fit folks can keep up a good hiking pace and end up with minimal gear on as they generating enough heat that they don't need much gear on. Once out of the woods on Bondcliff, there is zero cover, if you don't gear up in the woods in advance of breaking treeline in high winds, getting additional gear on is very difficult. In cold weather the first thing lost with hypothermia is clear thinking followed quickly by loss of control of the extremities. A hiker can have a pack full of warm gear but if they cant open the pack because they cant open the buckles, that gear is useless. I and many others carry gear in ziplock bags inside the pack. In extreme conditions (high winds and cold) I have gone from warm to unable to open a ziplock bag due to loss of dexterity in less than 5 minutes, I ended up having to tear the ziplock bag open with my teeth. Putting on a jacket in high winds and cold can be quite a challenge if not impossible and with the claimed 10 to 15 degree below temps and high winds I expect that it was just a matter of minutes before a few missed tries turns into a survival situation. I expect a driver in this situation is that the hiker was probably working on a list and had just hiked for several hours getting just short of the summit, in what was pretty good winter hiking conditions (minimal snow). I expect the temptation is to go that last 1/4 of mile to check off the summit rather than coming back another time was high. Add in mild hypothermia and its a dangerous combination.

Generally solo winter hiking introduces additional risk to an inherently risky sport, it can be managed like other winter risks. A Fish and Game official at one point made a blanket statement that solo winter hiking was inherently reckless. I don't agree I personally solo winter hike but get decidedly conservative. I know of a few times where I have had to help another hiker and have been helped by another individual when I have been unable to get gear on. One of my standard comments on what constitutes a hiking partner versus someone I am hiking with is that a hiking partner is someone who I have hiked with and we both mutually agreed to turn around short of summit.

This. It should be posted on a sign at the trailheads in the winter.

I'm solo 99.999% of the time. It's the only time in my existence on this planet that I would be happy to be characterized as "conservative."

ChrisB
12-27-2016, 08:21 AM
News interview with NH F&G said there was strong indication of hypothermia.

I generate a lot of heat while trudging along in winter, often in only a base layer. As soon as I stop I get cold due to a drying sweat.

I carry a couple of extra wicking Tees and change into a dry one at the summit. They weigh next to nothing and provide instant warmth and gratification!

I think it was Arm who clued me into this.

cb

DayTrip
12-27-2016, 08:24 AM
and still been caught by hypothermia. Its insidious, and can sneak up quick.

Generally solo winter hiking introduces additional risk to an inherently risky sport, it can be managed like other winter risks.

It is truly stunning how quickly the chills and the shakes can set in. I distinctly remember several years ago doing the Castle Ravine trail on a day where it was maybe mid 40's with 20 mph winds at Edmands Col. As I was coming up the headwall it started raining lightly and I figured I'd wait until I got to trail junction to add a layer. I was perfectly comfortable but a little wet from sweat and rain. As I crested ridge and walked to trail junction exposed to the wind I'd say it literally took me 60 seconds to go from comfortable to uncontrollable shivering. I actually had to crouch down behind a large rock to get in my pack and pull out a jacket, hat and gloves. I specifically remember how hard it was to use my hands. That was a profound learning experience for me. I almost always wear some sort of gloves, even in warm weather, and err on the side of too many layers when I go out now and always try to predict what I should wear versus reacting to the conditions.

And as someone who hikes alone I also wholeheartedly agree that it is not reckless. I see plenty of incident reports where groups make the same mistakes collectively that a solo hiker can make. It many case I think being in a group is worse (peer pressure, relying on a strong person who gets compromised, etc). There is the obvious potential issue of becoming incapacitated alone and being at more risk than if you're in a group but beyond that bad judgement is bad judgement. Alone or in a group, how you manage expectations and assess the conditions is the biggest contributor to getting in trouble.

Remix
12-27-2016, 08:45 AM
The deceased could have been experienced and had adequate equipment and still been caught by hypothermia. Its insidious, and can sneak up quick. Many particularly physically fit folks can keep up a good hiking pace and end up with minimal gear on as they are generating enough heat that they don't need much gear on. Once out of the woods on Bondcliff, there is zero cover, if you don't gear up in the woods in advance of breaking treeline in high winds, getting additional gear on is very difficult. In cold weather the first thing lost with hypothermia is clear thinking followed quickly by loss of control of the extremities. A hiker can have a pack full of warm gear but if they cant open the pack because they cant open the buckles, that gear is useless. I and many others carry gear in ziplock bags inside the pack. In extreme conditions (high winds and cold) I have gone from warm to unable to open a ziplock bag due to loss of dexterity in less than 5 minutes, I ended up having to tear the ziplock bag open with my teeth. Putting on a jacket in high winds and cold can be quite a challenge if not impossible and with the claimed 10 to 15 degree below temps and high winds I expect that it was just a matter of minutes before a few missed tries turns into a survival situation. I expect a driver in this situation is that the hiker was probably working on a list and had just hiked for several hours getting just short of the summit, in what was pretty good winter hiking conditions (minimal snow). I expect the temptation is to go that last 1/4 of mile to check off the summit rather than coming back another time was high. Add in mild hypothermia and its a dangerous combination.

Generally solo winter hiking introduces additional risk to an inherently risky sport, it can be managed like other winter risks. A Fish and Game official at one point made a blanket statement that solo winter hiking was inherently reckless. I don't agree I personally solo winter hike but get decidedly conservative. I know of a few times where I have had to help another hiker and have been helped by another individual when I have been unable to get gear on. One of my standard comments on what constitutes a hiking partner versus someone I am hiking with is that a hiking partner is someone who I have hiked with and we both mutually agreed to turn around short of summit.



I won't engage in a debate about the meaning of "experienced", but no one would disagree that hypothermia is a significant risk that should be mitigated before and during hiking with adequate gear and training/learning.

I had speculated about a fall and injury in a slippery, rocky, open and windy location... I have not kept up with the news, admittedly.

My (limited) experience has taught me to apply extra caution for

Warm days, sudden temperature drops.. Or thermal inversions
High deserts versus time of day, elevation
Pelting rain freezing to ice...bad dwr or shell and frozen poly layer.
The possibility of being immobilized by a fall on ice.
Rain/ice outside as moisture builds in a bivy bag with a down sleeping bag.

Stan
12-27-2016, 08:49 AM
I've solo'ed in relatively benign conditions and places and experienced frost nip and felt a possible onset of hypothermia and let that be a lesson to me, especially when I led groups or hiked in more dangerous places. I, too, follow the minimalist layering approach as I often overheat but am quick to add layers once exposed or stopped for any length of time.

SAR cases over the years show that some of the most fit, marathoners etc. with low body fat, and experienced have some of the most tragic outcomes. That body fat offers a reserve of energy as well as some additional insulation while the fitness and experience may lend some overconfidence under certain conditions.

una_dogger
12-27-2016, 08:57 AM
The year I nearly finished the W48 I was turned back four times at Bondcliff.....and had to wait until the next winter to finish up.

Prayers to his family, so sad - hoping he didn't suffer very long up there :-(

wardsgirl
12-27-2016, 09:00 AM
Generally solo winter hiking introduces additional risk to an inherently risky sport, it can be managed like other winter risks.

I also solo hike 99.99% of the time. I think that many years of experience solo winter hiking makes one more conservative in their estimation of the task of survival and enjoyment of the winter season. I find that as I get older, I am even more conservative than I would have been when I was young. I don't know how other people do it, but every half hour (maybe even less, depending on conditions), I conduct a check-in with myself. Are my feet warm? Fingers warm? Am I hungry? What do I want to eat? Layers okay? Drink some hot Gatorade. Am I happy with my traction? Where am I on the map? Are the conditions suitable enough for me to continue? What is the weather doing? I also carry enough gear to spend an unplanned night if necessary.

A SOLO instructor once taught our class that the most important thing you bring on a hike is your brain. Time and again that has proven to be true. This fellow could have been carrying the same exact gear that any of us winter soloists carry. Unfortunately, he didn't act in time to keep the conditions from claiming him.

DayTrip
12-27-2016, 09:04 AM
A SOLO instructor once taught our class that the most important thing you bring on a hike is your brain.

Bad judgement is the great equalizer. Gear, fitness level, experience, group size, etc can all be irrelevant in the face of a stupid decision.

SherpaTom
12-27-2016, 09:41 AM
The year I nearly finished the W48 I was turned back four times at Bondcliff.....and had to wait until the next winter to finish up.

Prayers to his family, so sad - hoping he didn't suffer very long up there :-(

Unadogger, you are a very smart hiker (I was just able to finish on Monroe on 1st day of winter after being denied last year).

TJsName
12-27-2016, 12:00 PM
The year I nearly finished the W48 I was turned back four times at Bondcliff.....and had to wait until the next winter to finish up.

Prayers to his family, so sad - hoping he didn't suffer very long up there :-(

My understanding is that hypothermia is like falling asleep. Deadly, but if it comes on quick, relatively painless.

sierra
12-27-2016, 12:47 PM
Year's ago in my head strong youth, my hikes were basically all out pushes to summit regardless of conditions. One day in early spring, we were breaking out the Desolation trail on a drizzly cold day through deep snow, basically a suffer fest. One of my group was lagging, but I continued on. Then he lagged some more, I stopped turned and went back to check on him. His lips were blue and he was shivering like crazy. We immediately descending to the Desolation shelter. I stripped him, got him in dry clothes and stuffed him in a bag and commenced to boiling water. Some soup, dry clothes and an hour later he was fit to go. It can happen fast if your not monitoring yourself and your team. The guilt and lesson's I learned that day as we walked out on the Wilderness trail, never left me. As a soloist, I'm constantly monitoring condition's, weather and my bodies well being at all times. In spite of the gear I carry, Ill bag a trip in a minute if any of the three are compromised. Thinking of this poor kid brought this memory back, wish I could have been there to help him. Condolences to his family.

Ramblings
12-27-2016, 09:22 PM
A few more details from the Boston Globe Story:


While officials will never know for sure, Kneeland said it is likely Holden had made it all the way out to the far point of his trek (West Bond) and was on his way back when he got into trouble. Holden had likely gotten wetter and wetter as the day wore on, Kneeland said. As darkness fell along with the temperature, hypothermia probably set in, he said, though the cause of death will be determined by an autopsy.

http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2016/12/27/massachusetts-hiker-found-dead-after-christmas-eve-hike-white-mountains/GpSjIDMoAP09hVOMlcbWlO/story.html

The ridge between Bond and Bondcliff always makes me a bit nervous and I will only head there with the best of forecasts. I hate having my escape route so exposed and try not to be in a situation where I have to decide between hunkering down for the long haul in worsening weather versus getting hammered across that ridge in attempts to get out before the worst of the weather arrives.

Natlife
12-28-2016, 05:52 AM
Soaked layers kill. Water conducts heat 25 times faster than air. I never allow myself more than a damp back. I adjust my pace, sometimes to a slow slug, and if I can't make my objective because of that, so be it. It's part of the game and I file it right along 80mph winds and whiteouts. Staying dry is a requirement for safe winter hiking.

egilbe
12-28-2016, 06:05 AM
22 miles is a damn ambitious hike for Winter conditions. Sad story.

peakbagger
12-28-2016, 06:20 AM
Wow, I was thinking that a solo hike to Bondcliff was a reasonable risk for solo winter hikers as the exposure is limited. Potentially adding in the extra couple of hours to go to Bond and West Bond plus the full out exposed stretch between Bond and Bondcliff with a forecast of a front coming through with high winds and low temps that is a different story. Definitely prime conditions for Hypothermia.

CaptCaper
12-28-2016, 06:56 AM
Love the way they say " he was an experienced hiker with the right gear"..... duh....

egilbe
12-28-2016, 06:58 AM
It sounds to me he was an experienced Summer hiker. Winter is an entirely different beast.

una_dogger
12-28-2016, 09:18 AM
Wow, I was thinking that a solo hike to Bondcliff was a reasonable risk for solo winter hikers as the exposure is limited. Potentially adding in the extra couple of hours to go to Bond and West Bond plus the full out exposed stretch between Bond and Bondcliff with a forecast of a front coming through with high winds and low temps that is a different story. Definitely prime conditions for Hypothermia.


I've done the Bonds/Zealand (Or Zealand/Bonds) traverse four times in winter/winter conditions and always find it less about mileage for a fit hiker(even with Zealand Rd closed) the bulk of the hiking is easy, relatively low overall elevation gain, but the open ridge between Bond and Bondcliff being the biggest trouble spot (followed by the col between Zealand and the Twinway turn that's often hard to follow if unbroken).

YMMV. Timing is everything.

peakbagger
12-28-2016, 09:50 AM
I've done the Bonds/Zealand (Or Zealand/Bonds) traverse four times in winter/winter conditions and always find it less about mileage for a fit hiker(even with Zealand Rd closed) the bulk of the hiking is easy, relatively low overall elevation gain, but the open ridge between Bond and Bondcliff being the biggest trouble spot (followed by the col between Zealand and the Twinway turn that's often hard to follow if unbroken).

YMMV. Timing is everything.

Four solo winter traverses? or 4 with a group?. To me it makes a lot of difference. A group or even two folks have a better chance of making it through nasty conditions and detecting hypothermia.

I agree timing and conditions are everything. Long term VFTT folks may remember Mohammed Elozy's rather infamous unplanned out and back of the Bonds when his group had to turn around doing the Hellgate bushwhack down off of West Bond and go back up West Bond and back out the way they came.

Mike P.
12-28-2016, 03:42 PM
Mohammed's Bonds in a Day, which ended up as a 26 hour hike. I had done some hiking with another member in that group and Mohammed may have even sugar coated it a bit. This is a sad tale & whether he was experienced or slipped & then became hyperthermic won't help his family. Bonds are one of a couple of winter trips I've not done yet.

The peaks and trails are different in winter than in summer. Not only that but each winter is different and trails change differently. Some trails change less than others. My winter trip up South Twin really wasn't much different on a navigational or condition trip than fall and Spring trips. Going back several years later for North Twin was very different though. As most of us know, once you reach the ridge, in summer, other than the couple of views, you are in trees 6-9 feet along the ridge. The day I did it, more exposed peaks weren't good choices due to weather. What I failed to take into account was by late January, several feet of now had accumulated and those 6-9 trees were knee high. The cover I was hoping for wasn't there.

As others mentioned on another thread, this weekend may shape up as a bad avalanche weekend. Meanwhile, SE CT remains an area to hike in sneakers.

SpencerVT
12-28-2016, 04:06 PM
The deceased could have been experienced and had adequate equipment and still been caught by hypothermia. Its insidious, and can sneak up quick. Many particularly physically fit folks can keep up a good hiking pace and end up with minimal gear on as they are generating enough heat that they don't need much gear on. Once out of the woods on Bondcliff, there is zero cover, if you don't gear up in the woods in advance of breaking treeline in high winds, getting additional gear on is very difficult. In cold weather the first thing lost with hypothermia is clear thinking followed quickly by loss of control of the extremities. A hiker can have a pack full of warm gear but if they cant open the pack because they cant open the buckles, that gear is useless. I and many others carry gear in ziplock bags inside the pack. In extreme conditions (high winds and cold) I have gone from warm to unable to open a ziplock bag due to loss of dexterity in less than 5 minutes, I ended up having to tear the ziplock bag open with my teeth. Putting on a jacket in high winds and cold can be quite a challenge if not impossible and with the claimed 10 to 15 degree below temps and high winds I expect that it was just a matter of minutes before a few missed tries turns into a survival situation. I expect a driver in this situation is that the hiker was probably working on a list and had just hiked for several hours getting just short of the summit, in what was pretty good winter hiking conditions (minimal snow). I expect the temptation is to go that last 1/4 of mile to check off the summit rather than coming back another time was high. Add in mild hypothermia and its a dangerous combination.

Generally solo winter hiking introduces additional risk to an inherently risky sport, it can be managed like other winter risks. A Fish and Game official at one point made a blanket statement that solo winter hiking was inherently reckless. I don't agree I personally solo winter hike but get decidedly conservative. I know of a few times where I have had to help another hiker and have been helped by another individual when I have been unable to get gear on. One of my standard comments on what constitutes a hiking partner versus someone I am hiking with is that a hiking partner is someone who I have hiked with and we both mutually agreed to turn around short of summit.

Excellent post.

una_dogger
12-28-2016, 04:07 PM
3 with one other hiker, 1 with a small group. Kind hard to
spot a car solo :-), but I see (and agree with) your point. FWIW I hike solo quite a bit but wouldn't do anything with that much above treeline in winter solo without a stellar forecast and on a weekend where lots of other folks are likely to also be out.

Raven
12-28-2016, 08:45 PM
A sad one. RIP.

Sounds like tough conditions for staying dry and warm. But even so, it can happen to the most experienced, well equipped, and intelligent hikers out there. In this man's case he may have turned back numerous times on other hikes when conditions were not good. We don't know of course. Sometimes it's just your time and sometimes the odds land on the wrong side of risk.

I turned back 4 times on solo winter overnight attempts at West Bond when pursuing the W48. All of them within a few miles of the summit. Fifth time was good for it. Heck, even Mount Nancy turned me back in tough conditions of rotten snow and cold rain.

I feel for his family. The shadow of this will likely be with them every Christmas.

HAMTERO
12-29-2016, 05:14 AM
http://m.legacy.com/obituaries/telegram/obituary.aspx?n=john-holden-jack&pid=183226014&referrer=0&preview=True

una_dogger
12-29-2016, 06:13 AM
http://m.legacy.com/obituaries/telegram/obituary.aspx?n=john-holden-jack&pid=183226014&referrer=0&preview=True

Thanks for sharing this - such a remarkable young man - truly sad.

Dave Bourque
12-29-2016, 09:01 AM
Hiker dies of hypothermia in NH - very sad.

http://www.concordmonitor.com/solo-massachusetts-hiker-dies-in-white-mountains-7118859

http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2016/12/27/massachusetts-hiker-found-dead-after-christmas-eve-hike-white-mountains/GpSjIDMoAP09hVOMlcbWlO/story.html

Sematary
12-30-2016, 07:23 AM
I do the majority of my winter hikes solo and because of the clothing I wear and the amount of heat generated while hiking, I've never gotten to the point where I was cold. I always wear Underarmour cold gear and a Gortex jacket. Also have proper headgear at the ready depending on conditions. I've seen wind chills as low as 50 below (one hike) and was fine with that. 100 gram thinsulate gloves and hand warmers (if necessary) are always good. It's sad that this young man died on a hike. We all love our sport and I'm willing to go pretty far in the enjoyment of that sport but I'm not really willing to die for it.

Sematary
12-30-2016, 07:28 AM
22 miles is a damn ambitious hike for Winter conditions. Sad story.

I think that was the part that surprised me the most. I know how long of a hike that is and unless you are in excellent condition and are planning on being out there after dark, you probably shouldn't be. In those instances where I've hiked a long hike (either solo or with my daughter), I will begin in the dark if I know that the hike is going to end in the dark if I start later. I much prefer beginning in the dark while my mind and my legs are at their freshest, rather than finishing in the dark after a long hike when I'm tired and more likely to make a mistake in the dark

Sematary
12-30-2016, 07:31 AM
It sounds to me he was an experienced Summer hiker. Winter is an entirely different beast.

That is an absolute fact and every year, I learn something new when I'm winter hiking - even on the lower peaks like Monadnock or in Western Mass.

Grey J
12-30-2016, 07:38 AM
[QUOTE=Mike P.;436732]Mohammed's Bonds in a Day, which ended up as a 26 hour hike. I had done some hiking with another member in that group and Mohammed may have even sugar coated it a bit.

Is there a Trip Report for this famous hike lurking in the archives somewhere? It sounds epic.

Grey J
12-30-2016, 07:40 AM
Should have tried on my own first. Here it is.
http://home.earthlink.net/~ellozy/Bonds.html

peakbagger
12-30-2016, 09:09 AM
Thanks for the link Grey J. I was interested to note that the linked blogs form the person who turned around were from a VFTT member that has since passed away, Jenny Bennett

peakbagger
12-30-2016, 09:15 AM
Double post

Dingo
12-30-2016, 09:29 AM
Also two posts up. :)

jniehof
12-30-2016, 09:56 AM
I believe this was an AMC trip given the participants
There were a bunch of Boston chapter leaders but my recollection is it was a "bootleg" trip, not a listed AMC trip.

sierra
12-31-2016, 04:50 PM
This is just my opinion but I think there is a big difference in knowing " How to hike" and knowing " How to survive". I also think, that there are many experienced hikers out there, that have very little knowledge of backcountry survival techniques. let's face it, you can hike for many year's and never run into trouble. Myself, I had to teach myself everything about the outdoors. But as many books as I bought on hiking, I bought books on survival techniques as well. Granted, I had an advantage, as a youth, I spent 7 day's hiking with a leader who was a former Green Beret, who drilled into our head's what could go wrong and how to address such crisis. I know this group is the exception to the rule regarding skillsets, but the average hiker is ill prepared for an epic. The thing is, when things go sideways, it happens quick. Having the forethought to see and rectify any such time, is critical in a positive outcome. If you have the right gear and knowledge, it's pretty tough to get hypothermia. Hikers who have a decent amount of experience are actually more prone to tragedy, as they can lull themselves into situations that quickly outpace their skillset. The Whites are deadly for a couple of reasons. They are tough in bad conditions and the weather itself can not only turn fast, it's really brutal. I grew up hiking here. When I finally went out west, I thought conditions were much easier to be out in. These peaks are not forgiving at all in the winter, just being a hiker is not enough, imo.

buddy
12-31-2016, 06:16 PM
This is just my opinion but I think there is a big difference in knowing " How to hike" and knowing " How to survive". I also think, that there are many experienced hikers out there, that have very little knowledge of backcountry survival techniques. let's face it, you can hike for many year's and never run into trouble. Myself, I had to teach myself everything about the outdoors. But as many books as I bought on hiking, I bought books on survival techniques as well. Granted, I had an advantage, as a youth, I spent 7 day's hiking with a leader who was a former Green Beret, who drilled into our head's what could go wrong and how to address such crisis. I know this group is the exception to the rule regarding skillsets, but the average hiker is ill prepared for an epic. The thing is, when things go sideways, it happens quick. Having the forethought to see and rectify any such time, is critical in a positive outcome. If you have the right gear and knowledge, it's pretty tough to get hypothermia. Hikers who have a decent amount of experience are actually more prone to tragedy, as they can lull themselves into situations that quickly outpace their skillset. The Whites are deadly for a couple of reasons. They are tough in bad conditions and the weather itself can not only turn fast, it's really brutal. I grew up hiking here. When I finally went out west, I thought conditions were much easier to be out in. These peaks are not forgiving at all in the winter, just being a hiker is not enough, imo.

Well said. I consider myself well versed in back country hiking and have the equipment and skills to survive what I know the mountains can throw at me, it's what I do not know that scares me. Much of what I now know I learned through experiences that happened from not knowing. This is why I think these discussions generated around unfortunate events can be helpful, perhaps life saving, for those who care to listen. A discussion of one persons tragedy can in some ways be the gift of life to others. Respect is given to the deceased when it is acknowledged that we are all vulnerable and we can all learn from each other. It's more often ignorance (not knowing) than stupidity that gets us humans in trouble. My condolences to all who have lost loved ones to the mountains.

DougPaul
12-31-2016, 10:52 PM
This is just my opinion but I think there is a big difference in knowing " How to hike" and knowing " How to survive". I also think, that there are many experienced hikers out there, that have very little knowledge of backcountry survival techniques. let's face it, you can hike for many year's and never run into trouble. Myself, I had to teach myself everything about the outdoors. But as many books as I bought on hiking, I bought books on survival techniques as well. Granted, I had an advantage, as a youth, I spent 7 day's hiking with a leader who was a former Green Beret, who drilled into our head's what could go wrong and how to address such crisis. I know this group is the exception to the rule regarding skillsets, but the average hiker is ill prepared for an epic. The thing is, when things go sideways, it happens quick. Having the forethought to see and rectify any such time, is critical in a positive outcome. If you have the right gear and knowledge, it's pretty tough to get hypothermia. Hikers who have a decent amount of experience are actually more prone to tragedy, as they can lull themselves into situations that quickly outpace their skillset.
I have often advocated that people go to winter school rather than trying to learn on one's own. One of the reasons is that a good winter school will teach how to do things safely, things to avoid to reduce unnecessary risk, as well as survival skills. All things that one can do without until one suddenly needs them... Trip leaders associated with such classes also often have cold-weather first aid and rescue training.

BTW, there are some important differences between cold weather and warm weather first aid.


The Whites are deadly for a couple of reasons. They are tough in bad conditions and the weather itself can not only turn fast, it's really brutal. I grew up hiking here. When I finally went out west, I thought conditions were much easier to be out in. These peaks are not forgiving at all in the winter, just being a hiker is not enough, imo.
A meteorologist friend of mine liked to compare the difference in the weather between the bases and summits of Pikes Peak (14115 ft) and Mt Washington (6288 ft) (as part of a winter school lecture on mountain weather). The difference for Mt Washington is significantly greater than the difference for Pikes Peak...

The Whites aren't big, but they can be nasty. A classic winter weather event is cold rain followed by a ~40F degree drop in temp accompanied by high winds (a cold front). A hiker is likely to get wet during the rain and then gets hit with the cold and wind. A tent (or shelter) and sleeping bag may be required to survive the event.


In the accident that spawned this thread, the victim was out in cold rain/warm snow (30-35F) for an extended period on the 24th and was found in an exposed place at 8pm on the 25th. The rescuers were hampered by a drop in temp and high winds, but I don't know if the cold started soon enough to impact the victim. (The Mt Washington records show temps in the lower 20's and upper teens during the 24th decaying during the night to the lower teens til ~7am on the 25th when a sharp drop down to 1F starts. Winds were in the 40-60 kt range during the entire period. The temps were probably a bit warmer and the winds were probably not as strong at the accident site, but these records are the closest that I can access.)

Doug

sierra
01-01-2017, 09:33 AM
I have often advocated that people go to winter school rather than trying to learn on one's own. One of the reasons is that a good winter school will teach how to do things safely, things to avoid to reduce unnecessary risk, as well as survival skills. All things that one can do without until one suddenly needs them... Trip leaders associated with such classes also often have cold-weather first aid and rescue training.

BTW, there are some important differences between cold weather and warm weather first aid.


A meteorologist friend of mine liked to compare the difference in the weather between the bases and summits of Pikes Peak (14115 ft) and Mt Washington (6288 ft) (as part of a winter school lecture on mountain weather). The difference for Mt Washington is significantly greater than the difference for Pikes Peak...

The Whites aren't big, but they can be nasty. A classic winter weather event is cold rain followed by a ~40F degree drop in temp accompanied by high winds (a cold front). A hiker is likely to get wet during the rain and then gets hit with the cold and wind. A tent (or shelter) and sleeping bag may be required to survive the event.


In the accident that spawned this thread, the victim was out in cold rain/warm snow (30-35F) for an extended period on the 24th and was found in an exposed place at 8pm on the 25th. The rescuers were hampered by a drop in temp and high winds, but I don't know if the cold started soon enough to impact the victim. (The Mt Washington records show temps in the lower 20's and upper teens during the 24th decaying during the night to the lower teens til ~7am on the 25th when a sharp drop down to 1F starts. Winds were in the 40-60 kt range during the entire period. The temps were probably a bit warmer and the winds were probably not as strong at the accident site, but these records are the closest that I can access.)

Doug

Having lived at the base of Pikes Peak for 5 years, I concur with your friend.

Yury
01-01-2017, 01:55 PM
They say that this happened due to hypothermia.
Are they 100% sure?
Have they definitely excluded health issues such as heart attack?
I ask this question because weather per se doesn't seem too extreme to me.

John in NH
01-01-2017, 02:23 PM
Temps is the 30s with rain (esp with wind, but even without) is absolutely worse than dry and 0 degrees for developing hypothermia. The former were the conditions he was caught out in. Sadly many think "oh it's above freezing" so even if it's raining that is fine to hike in in winter because that's better the cold. I recently had to strongly urge a novice friend not to venture into the high peaks on such a day.

I am very saddened over the loss of this young man in the incident on Bondcliff and my prayers go out to him and his family.

jfb
01-01-2017, 04:51 PM
They say that this happened due to hypothermia.
Are they 100% sure?
Have they definitely excluded health issues such as heart attack?
I ask this question because weather per se doesn't seem too extreme to me.

The Boston Globe article indicated that an autopsy would be performed.

DougPaul
01-01-2017, 09:34 PM
They say that this happened due to hypothermia.
Are they 100% sure?
Have they definitely excluded health issues such as heart attack?
I ask this question because weather per se doesn't seem too extreme to me.
IIRC (from winter school and/or outdoor first aid), most cases of hypothermia occur in wet conditions (eg rain or falling into water) at temps above freezing. It was "perfect" hypothermia conditions--rain and/or melting snow at temps near freezing with wind. Staying dry while hiking under these conditions is nearly impossible.

The improperly applied jacket is a strong indication that he knew he was cold but was unable to put his jacket on properly (perhaps because his hands were too cold). The wind could also have interfered with putting the jacket on (as well as increasing the heat loss rate). Given the conditions, hypothermia was a likely cause of death.
<speculation>
However, a heart attack might have a similar presentation: he might have been in a state of partial collapse when he was trying to put the jacket on and this prevented from applying it properly.
</speculation>
While hypothermia is the most likely cause of death, the cause should be determined with greater certainty by the autopsy.


Winter temps are divided into dry cold (~ <= 20F) and wet cold (~ > 20F). In dry cold, snow that gets on you does not generally stick or melt and (as long as you avoid sweating) you can stay dry. In wet cold, snow that gets on you tends to stick and melt or you can get wet from rain. If temps are below freezing, your outer clothing can become icy and in extreme cases can turn into solid ice armor. Keeping one's shell closed to shed the water will likely result in the accumulation of perspiration in one's insulation. It is very difficult to nearly impossible to stay dry while hiking under these conditions. Adding wind makes it worse.

In wet cold one needs to be obsessive-compulsive about immediately brushing snow off before it gets a chance to melt to stay as dry as possible. Dry cold is nicer (and safer unless the cold is extreme) in a number of ways.


(At the risk of beating the same horse again), this is basic safety info which is taught in any decent winter school...

Doug

Raven
01-02-2017, 04:59 AM
Good points Doug. I'll take a swing at that horse.

To add for clarification: the effect of water/moisture/humidity is similar in warm climates as it is in cold ones. Florida at 90 degrees with 100% humidity is hotter than Arizona at 100 degrees and no humidity. It actually holds more heat energy.

Your body generates a limited amount of heat energy when you are hiking (this comes from the food you eat and the energy stored in the fat of your body primarily).
The heat you generate is used to warm up your core and whatever is surrounding it. If you are dry, much less heat is needed to increase/maintain your core temperature. On the other hand, if you are wet, the heat you generate will also be used to heat up the water on your body/clothing. Since water takes an enormous amount of heat to maintain its temperature, most of the body heat you generate gets lost to water and is not used to keep your body and the air layers around you warm.

Heat and temperature are two different things. Think about boiling a pot of water. You can add massive amounts of heat and energy to the water by boiling it on a stove. The entire time you are boiling it however, the temperature remains the same. Only when the water is all gone, does the temperature of the container begin to rise. And it rises fast once the water is gone. A coffee pot left on never catches fire when there is coffee left inside it because the temperature can never rise high enough with water present to heat. As a hiker, be the dry coffee pot.

Stay dry. If you get wet, then your priority is to get dry. Wet doesn't get warm in the field.

I'll take 10 degrees and dry any day over 25 and damp.

jfb
01-02-2017, 08:11 AM
I ask this question because weather per se doesn't seem too extreme to me.

You may have experience hiking in these conditions and may have learned how to adjust your layers. Many hikers have not. If he was on the return trip from West Bond, he would have ascended Bond from the north on a section of trail that is sheltered from the wind. Upon summiting, he should have added a layer before descending to Bondcliff.

una_dogger
01-02-2017, 08:36 AM
The worst part of this - he was just SO close to being off the ridge :-(

alexmtn
01-02-2017, 09:57 AM
The worst part of this - he was just SO close to being off the ridge :-(

Not quite as much irony there as "SO close" might otherwise suggest -- in tough conditions, the exit off Bondcliff can be a challenge to find, even for hikers who've been there many times before. Add to that some hypothermia-induced mental degradation combined with panic, and you've turned an irony into an inevitability.

hikerbrian
01-04-2017, 02:36 PM
What a loss. This makes me so sad. I don't even know how a family recovers from such a lost. Jeez.

That spot between Bond and Bondcliff is yet another White Mountains death trap. A wind tunnel from hell. Many winters ago my dad and I were camped somewhere below Bondcliff and had hiked up from our tent without overnight gear (just the bare essentials) to tag all of the Bonds. We got to the infamous wind tunnel and turned around because it felt like even if we made it through the wind tunnel and up Bond, even the slightest increase in wind speed would trap us a very long ways from nowhere. For years, when talking about favorite hikes in the Whites people would express surprise that we would have gotten up Bondcliff but turned around before completing Bond and West Bond. Most people have no idea how bad that section can get.

Last winter on the first day of a Pemi loop, my two partners and I started out on Wilderness trail in low single digit temperatures with a forecast of increasing temps, then light drizzle, then moderate rain, followed overnight by a cold front. Classic. We packed all of our gear in huge zipper bags and as soon as it began to warm up got as much of our clothing into plastic bags as possible. It started to drizzle and then rain right as we were heading up Bond. We had been completely comfortable all day, but as soon as the rain started, all of us were immediately chilled. We all put on extra fleeces under our GoreTex shells and managed to keep relatively warm, but there was no stopping the wetness. On top of that, with heavy 4-day packs none of us had a lot of energy left in the tank, in spite of eating all day. It was difficult to generate much body heat, and the wetness constantly robbed us of heat and energy. Fortunately it was only another hour to Guyot. By the time we rolled in we were all cold and tired, but we'd gone in expecting exactly that scenario and had packed and behaved accordingly. I cannot imagine turning around in our soaked gear at that point and trying to slog out in the dark. We got dry base layers on in the shelter, dry insulating layers, and climbed into our sleeping bags. Ramens with butter never tasted so good.

It is curoious that he never activated his rescue beacon. I mean things had to have gone downhill in a hurry for that to happen. But I think it's possible in this scenario: full, very hard day out to West Bond uses up most available energy/heat reserves. Slowly deteriorating weather that reaches a point of no return when he's already past the wind tunnel. Slowly creeping in hypothermia, insidious, due to the wetness and inability to assimilate enough calories to keep the furnace running on high. Then unexpected wind on the reverse trip through the wind tunnel. No shelter. Too cold and too little energy to extract himself. No place to go. Just heart breaking.

dug
01-04-2017, 03:02 PM
It is curoious that he never activated his rescue beacon. I mean things had to have gone downhill in a hurry for that to happen. But I think it's possible in this scenario: full, very hard day out to West Bond uses up most available energy/heat reserves. Slowly deteriorating weather that reaches a point of no return when he's already past the wind tunnel. Slowly creeping in hypothermia, insidious, due to the wetness and inability to assimilate enough calories to keep the furnace running on high. Then unexpected wind on the reverse trip through the wind tunnel. No shelter. Too cold and too little energy to extract himself. No place to go. Just heart breaking.

I read this and had a horrible thought....

What if, he realized he was in bad shape, but figured he would be better off resolving it himself vs. opening himself up to conjecture, ridicule, and a heavy fine for a rescue? After debating that, it was too late to do anything....

I have no idea if that happened, or could happen.

TJsName
01-04-2017, 07:15 PM
I read this and had a horrible thought....

What if, he realized he was in bad shape, but figured he would be better off resolving it himself vs. opening himself up to conjecture, ridicule, and a heavy fine for a rescue? After debating that, it was too late to do anything....

I have no idea if that happened, or could happen.

Who knows what he was thinking, but I don't doubt that many of us here *would* hesitate to ask for help, preferring self-rescue and viewing calling for help as a last resort. Unfortunately, erring on the wrong side there can be deadly.

Trail Boss
01-05-2017, 10:26 AM
Putting on one's jacket backwards could be due to:

Diminished manual dexterity; you're unable to operate the zipper.
Broken zipper; wear the jacket backwards and it'll seal out the wind.


I've never hiked Bondcliff in winter. My sole experience in August gave me a tiny taste of its "wind tunnel" effect and I was surprised by its power. I can only imagine how severe it can be in winter. My condolences to the young man's family, loved ones, and friends.

una_dogger
01-08-2017, 04:59 PM
What a loss.
That spot between Bond and Bondcliff is yet another White Mountains death trap.We got to the infamous wind tunnel and turned around because it felt like even if we made it through the wind tunnel and up Bond, even the slightest increase in wind speed would trap us a very long ways from nowhere. For years, when talking about favorite hikes in the Whites people would express surprise that we would have gotten up Bondcliff but turned around before completing Bond and West Bond. Most people have no idea how bad that section can.

Totally agree!

Remix
01-08-2017, 05:43 PM
If it was raining, then freezing, perhaps the rocks became slick with ice. No traction=broken bones. Wind + no traction + ice would be disastrous.

DayTrip
01-23-2017, 01:51 PM
Good points Doug. I'll take a swing at that horse.

To add for clarification: the effect of water/moisture/humidity is similar in warm climates as it is in cold ones. Florida at 90 degrees with 100% humidity is hotter than Arizona at 100 degrees and no humidity. It actually holds more heat energy.

Your body generates a limited amount of heat energy when you are hiking (this comes from the food you eat and the energy stored in the fat of your body primarily).
The heat you generate is used to warm up your core and whatever is surrounding it. If you are dry, much less heat is needed to increase/maintain your core temperature. On the other hand, if you are wet, the heat you generate will also be used to heat up the water on your body/clothing. Since water takes an enormous amount of heat to maintain its temperature, most of the body heat you generate gets lost to water and is not used to keep your body and the air layers around you warm.

Heat and temperature are two different things. Think about boiling a pot of water. You can add massive amounts of heat and energy to the water by boiling it on a stove. The entire time you are boiling it however, the temperature remains the same. Only when the water is all gone, does the temperature of the container begin to rise. And it rises fast once the water is gone. A coffee pot left on never catches fire when there is coffee left inside it because the temperature can never rise high enough with water present to heat. As a hiker, be the dry coffee pot.

Stay dry. If you get wet, then your priority is to get dry. Wet doesn't get warm in the field.

I'll take 10 degrees and dry any day over 25 and damp.

This incident was on my mind quite a bit SAT. I did the Franconia Loop in fairly lousy weather: 30's, 15-25 mph and plenty of drizzle, light rain and melting snow dripping off the trees down low. I met up with a young guy about a mile up FWT who had only a wind shirt and poly base layer, wind pants and no insulation or layers of any kind. He did at least have a hat, good gloves, goggles and crampons. He was a retired marine (32 years old) and had just started hiking 6 months ago and was hooked and had attempted the loop a few weeks ago but turned back. To quote him directly he said "I went into an REI and said I want to Winter hike. What do I need?". He was really hoping to finish loop today. We talked quite a bit about Winter hiking, layers, the prime hyporthermia weather we were hiking in, etc. When we got to Little Haystack I got out of my snow shoes and into crampons and he stood around waiting for me because he hadn't done trail before (and yes he did not have a map or a compass) and thought it would be better to wait for me rather than do alone. My pack and a lot of my gear was pretty wet but I had a hard shell, proper pants, back up layers, etc. It wound up being a fairly long stop for me screwing around with everything and he started wondering out loud if he should turn back even though he didn't feel cold. I told him point blank that if I was him I would not be doing this hike with the gear he had. I was very happy he took my advice and retreated. I didn't want the responsibility of keeping an eye on him along the ridge.

It stayed pretty wet the whole walk but as I climbed the last 200' or so of vertical on Lafayette a lot of the moisture on my gloves, poles, etc began freezing and icing up. If I had walked that far before I adjusted my layers I could see where it would have become a big problem in short order. Of all the accidents we have dissected on this forum this one is by far the easiest to understand for me. It wasn't so much a pattern of negligent choices and ignored advice as much as a delayed decision that rapidly went bad. Such a fine line in weather like that. I agree with Raven that 10 degrees dry is a way better scenario than warmer, wetter weather.

sierra
01-23-2017, 04:13 PM
I was out Saturday as well, pretty wet all around. I was in softshell pants and a tee shirt ascending. Put on my layers at treeline. If you have the right gear and switch it out when you should, the conditions were not that bad to me. Just curious as to your layer system, what took so long to adjust? I mean for me, it was add a mid layer, then Gore-Tex shell, fresh gloves and I'm off.

DayTrip
01-24-2017, 07:50 AM
I was out Saturday as well, pretty wet all around. I was in softshell pants and a tee shirt ascending. Put on my layers at treeline. If you have the right gear and switch it out when you should, the conditions were not that bad to me. Just curious as to your layer system, what took so long to adjust? I mean for me, it was add a mid layer, then Gore-Tex shell, fresh gloves and I'm off.

I went up in a soft shell jacket and pants with just base layers. Around Shining Rock I ditched the soft shell and put on a hard shell, balaclava instead of a head band and a light synthetic jacket I've been using this year. I made no other changes. The screwing around I was doing was getting the snowshoes strapped to the pack (I forgot the strap I usually bring with me), put my crampons on, had a snack, fired up my GoPro and put on, switched empty water bottle for a full one, etc. Wasn't messing with my layers but other stuff. The fact that it was in the 30's made it comfortable even with the steady breeze (even as cold as I get). It certainly wasn't a great day for catching the views but I had fun anyway.

I was just thinking of how wet everything was and how waiting to make layer adjustments could get ugly fast. It was pretty cool to see the moisture turning to ice on my stuff, but it was also a reminder of what a bad thing that could be if I were wearing other clothes.......say like the guy I met coming up Greenleaf Trail in a t-shirt and flannel beer mug pajama bottoms. :)

jfb
01-24-2017, 10:32 AM
I went up in a soft shell jacket and pants with just base layers. Around Shining Rock I ditched the soft shell and put on a hard shell, balaclava instead of a head band and a light synthetic jacket I've been using this year. I made no other changes.

I was just thinking of how wet everything was and how waiting to make layer adjustments could get ugly fast.

You make it sound easy. I used to wait until I got cold before adding layers, then learned that adding them while still warm worked well. I'm wondering if your base layer got wet on the ascent, why you didn't change into a dry base layer (if it was wet) and if the (wet?) base layer dried on the descent?

sierra
01-24-2017, 12:39 PM
You make it sound easy. I used to wait until I got cold before adding layers, then learned that adding them while still warm worked well. I'm wondering if your base layer got wet on the ascent, why you didn't change into a dry base layer (if it was wet) and if the (wet?) base layer dried on the descent?

I can speak for myself on that. My base layer was wet and I do carry a spare. But on Saturday, I was not cold so, I just added a layer over it, then my shell at treeline. On the descent although my base layer did not dry completely, I was not near as wet anymore. Knowing that I would be warm even going down due to the temps, I just left it on.

jfb
01-24-2017, 01:02 PM
I can speak for myself on that. My base layer was wet and I do carry a spare. But on Saturday, I was not cold so, I just added a layer over it, then my shell at treeline. On the descent although my base layer did not dry completely, I was not near as wet anymore. Knowing that I would be warm even going down due to the temps, I just left it on.

Did you leave on your second layer and shell for the descent?

TJsName
01-24-2017, 01:14 PM
I can speak for myself on that. My base layer was wet and I do carry a spare. But on Saturday, I was not cold so, I just added a layer over it, then my shell at treeline. On the descent although my base layer did not dry completely, I was not near as wet anymore. Knowing that I would be warm even going down due to the temps, I just left it on.

I do the same exact thing. It's gotta be much colder for me to need to swap base layers due to sweat that could chill me. Though sometimes if I am swapping other gear for the descent I'll toss on the dry layer for comfort. :)

sierra
01-24-2017, 01:54 PM
Did you leave on your second layer and shell for the descent?

I left my shell on for about 20 min. to retain my temp. Then I took it off and kept on my mid layer as I'm not as warm going down.

jfb
01-24-2017, 02:24 PM
I left my shell on for about 20 min. to retain my temp. Then I took it off and kept on my mid layer as I'm not as warm going down.

I usually wear a shell all day, and adjust layers underneath depending on whether I'm too warm or too cold. My base layer usually gets damp on the ascent and if I get chilled, I'll add a layer. On the descent, my base layer will dry out somewhat and I can remove the extra layer. With all the discussion about the danger of hiking in wet weather and with wet clothing, it seems that most people manage to stay warm and it makes me wonder why John Holden wasn't wearing more of the clothes he had available.

hikerbrian
01-24-2017, 02:26 PM
We were backpacking directly across the highway from you, Daytrip, on Saturday, staying over Saturday night. I found the conditions to be quite challenging - there's just no way to stay dry. Fortunately we were all prepared for the conditions and kept an eye on each other. But yeah, you can see how things could go downhill in a HURRY. Wet is TOUGH.

TJsName
01-24-2017, 02:36 PM
I usually wear a shell all day, and adjust layers underneath depending on whether I'm too warm or too cold. My base layer usually gets damp on the ascent and if I get chilled, I'll add a layer. On the descent, my base layer will dry out somewhat and I can remove the extra layer. With all the discussion about the danger of hiking in wet weather and with wet clothing, it seems that most people manage to stay warm and it makes me wonder why John Holden wasn't wearing more of the clothes he had available.

I have hiked with many people that are cold the instant we stop. They tend to push for the group to keep moving and resist putting on more layers with the argument of 'I'll be warm if we keep moving'. It comes down to faulty logic. Do what you need to do to stay warm, but also recognize that if you're in a group, your strategy might need tweaking. Solo, you have more control, but no one looking out for you. It's tough.

DayTrip
01-24-2017, 02:49 PM
I think I may have confused the hell out of everyone here. My underneath layers were not wet (other than the usual dampness from sweating). The exterior of all my clothes, gloves, headband, backpack, etc were what was soaked. The softshell I was wearing was starting to get wet which is what prompted me to change. I very rarely change out of my base layer regardless of how wet it is. When I make a change I'll often use one of those dry towels to wipe my skin, hair, etc before putting on a dry hat, new midlayer layer or shell. What preoccupied my thoughts was how easily someone could have gotten soaked through if they were doing this sort of hike in a fleece or non water repellent garments and waited until they were actually getting a chill before making a change. That sudden change from moisture to ice on Lafayette was pretty quick. If that was happening on a fleece or merino wool garment instead of Goretex I expect it would chill a person down pretty quickly.

On the way out I stayed in my hardshell and just unzipped everything and took my balaclava off. It got me soggier but it was very warm at the lower elevations and I knew I'd be out of the woods soon. I generally do that on most of my hikes. If I were overnighting I would have to do a different strategy altogether. I've done more experimenting with layers this year (which I won't discuss here because I was advised not to once already and got a little carried away off topic so I deleted) and find wet does not necessarily equal cold depending on what you are wearing and that hot and wet feeling can actually drive moisture to the outer layers and dry you off inside.

egilbe
01-24-2017, 05:15 PM
I find if I'm not wearing a shell, and its not actively precipitating, my body heat will dry my baselayers if I just slow down a bit. People that hike to stay warm, rather than adding or removing layers, are more apt to have less chance to recover from hypothermia. Staying warm is all about energy conservation and exhausting oneself trying to stay warm is a recipe for disaster.

DougPaul
01-24-2017, 10:53 PM
I usually wear a shell all day, and adjust layers underneath depending on whether I'm too warm or too cold. My base layer usually gets damp on the ascent
I found that it often got steamy under my shell if I kept it on when working hard. (I generate a lot of heat when moving.) If outside conditions are dry enough, I remove the shell and can stay drier with just my mid-layers*.
* I have both regular (very breathable) fleece and wind-blocking (semi-breathable) fleece mid-layers, both of which are more breathable than my shell.

By doing the above, I can stay dry enough that I haven't needed to change a wet baselayer.

Doug

jfb
01-25-2017, 07:15 AM
I found that it often got steamy under my shell if I kept it on when working hard.

That's why I only wear a rain shell when it's raining. Otherwise, I'll wear an inexpensive wind shell. You should try one of these: https://www.outdoorresearch.com/en/mens-ferrosi-hoody-2.html

I suspect John Holden was not wearing his shell (while hiking) because it caused him to overheat.

DougPaul
01-25-2017, 11:21 AM
That's why I only wear a rain shell when it's raining. Otherwise, I'll wear an inexpensive wind shell. You should try one of these: https://www.outdoorresearch.com/en/mens-ferrosi-hoody-2.html
Back when I started winter hiking, we carried separate wind and rain shells. (Waterproof breathable shells came onto the market a little later...) My wind shell was a cotton-blend fabric which probably had a higher moisture permeability in the cold than the soon-to-be released Gortex shells, but it could still be steamy within for me.

Under certain conditions, I still stay drier without a shell of any kind.

Note 1:
Part of a shell's job is to reduce the airflow in and out of one's mid and base layers. This also reduces the moisture transport.

Note 2:
In winter school we were taught to keep our shells on and adjust our mid layers. I still do this when appropriate, but have since learned that under certain conditions I am more comfortable and stay drier by dumping the shell. YMMV but it may be worth trying.

Doug

Brambor
01-25-2017, 11:31 AM
Very similar in my case. Most of the time I hike without a shell. Usually I have one or two layers for my core. For example a wool midweight underwear top, plus synthetic insulated vest. Or stretchy synthetic onesie without sleeves and a wool midweight underwear top. This usually works for me for temps above 10 F. I carry a dry wool underwear top in my pack. I usually switch to a dry layer after I reenter the treeline on the way down or I might switch if the conditions above treeline are very treacherous, I put on everything dry that I have before I go above the tree line.

In my pack I also carry either a hard shell, soft shell and/or synthetic insulated jacket all depending on what conditions and type of trip.

jfb
01-25-2017, 12:38 PM
I still do this when appropriate, but have since learned that under certain conditions I am more comfortable and stay drier by dumping the shell. YMMV but it may be worth trying.


When the choice is between a hard shell and no shell (no wind), I always choose no shell.

TJsName
01-25-2017, 01:48 PM
When the choice is between a hard shell and no shell (no wind), I always choose no shell.

Strongly agree. For some people, the eventual heat loss due to wetness is more significant than the gradual heat loss achieved by not wearing the shell. For others, the shell makes sense given minimal sweating. I would posit that one's rules around gear and layering should be as dynamic as the conditions in which they are being applied. I think many people here already recognize that which is why so often questions asked are answered with, 'it depends'.

jfb
01-25-2017, 02:12 PM
My wind shell was a cotton-blend fabric which probably had a higher moisture permeability in the cold than the soon-to-be released Gortex shells, but it could still be steamy within for me.



Sounds like the EMS 60/40 parka. Been there, done that. Besides being 60% cotton, they had a partial nylon lining which also absorbed moisture. I would wear mine for a winter hike and it would freeze while I was hiking. After camping out, it would be as useful as a sheet of cardboard the next morning. Modern windshells are usually a single thin layer of polyester and should not be dismissed because the 60/40 made you steamy.

DougPaul
01-25-2017, 04:28 PM
Modern windshells are usually a single thin layer of polyester and should not be dismissed because the 60/40 made you steamy.
I used the phrase "shell of any kind". That includes a single layer of polyester.

Read what I wrote: I'm not telling people not to use shells--just that no shell can be a good option under certain conditions.

Plonk!

Doug

jfb
01-26-2017, 07:15 AM
I used the phrase "shell of any kind". That includes a single layer of polyester.



Sounds like moisture is unable to move from your base layer through your fleece midlayer without outside air forcing it to flow. I don't have that problem so don't see a need to deviate from what I've been doing.

Mike P.
01-26-2017, 10:41 AM
For many of us, we've been doing this enough to know what works for each of us. In winter, I almost never wear my shell if I have brought my wind-bloc vest and my wind-bloc balaclava. (a couple of miles above treeline may be different but for a 1/3 or 1/2 mile above treeline, I'd opt for the vest unless it was raining. (35 degrees today in a t-shirt and dense polyester top and summer hiking pants & I was sweating - other than my fingers, generating heat is seldom an issue for me.)

hikerbrian
01-26-2017, 12:30 PM
For many of us, we've been doing this enough to know what works for each of us.

Agree. The thing I found tricky about this past weekend's conditions (and pertinent to the conditions that ultimately led to the hiker's death on Christmas eve) was the wetness. There was so much moisture coming off the trees, it felt like a steady rain with occasional large clumps of slush too. So more like a heavy rain. On Saturday, I hiked in just a base layer. It was completely saturated by the end of the day. I'm not talking about a little moisture, I'm talking about submerging my base layer in a bucket of water. This was fine while I was moving, but 35 degrees and soaking wet - well, it didn't take me long to get cold. I found it uncomfortable. On Sunday, I tried hiking in my shell jacket too, with my base layer underneath. I stayed just a little bit drier - maybe "wet" rather than "saturated" - but I was definitely more comfortable. Swampy and muggy, but I could slow the pace or stop or go downhill for a stretch without immediately being cold.

Drying my base layer overnight was a little tricky, but it didn't get that cold, so I was able to do it by putting a fleece and thin DownTek jacket on over it while eating dinner. I was producing a lot of body heat with dinner and there weren't any trees overhead to drip on us where we were camped.

Still, all in all, pretty tough conditions. The person who was most comfortable was the woman who was able to hike in just a thin T-shirt. She runs hot. I couldn't do it.