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Thread: Thursday June 13th 2019 " A Rough day up on the Rock Pile"

  1. #16
    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    The follow up link story has plenty of details to pass judgement on the scenario in my opinion. The 80 year old guy was pretty candid with the details and his thoughts. I feel like the 80 year old and the kids both made bad decisions. Not because they abandoned an 80 year old guy and not because the group split up. It was a bad call by all concerned because they weren't prepared for that weather with appropriate gear and knowledge. I felt that the weather was beyond "questionable" and warranted a more conservative course of action considering their gear they had, the volume of hiking they had already done earlier in the week, etc. The kids pushed it by pressing on in those conditions to summit and the 80 year old by his own admission didn't have proper gear and was not feeling up to it. This feels like a case of "summit fever" gone wrong trying to bag the tallest mountains in these states. I think it was good fortune that everyone made it out OK.

    And I'd also chime in that splitting a group isn't automatically a bad decision either as is so often referenced in these stories. But bad individual decisions can be made that lead to splitting up the group for the wrong reasons and increase the risks for all involved. As someone who hikes alone I always pay special note of the fact that most rescues involve retrieving someone who was part of a group and that the number of people in the group did not make it smarter or safer or better equipped for the decision making process. It just means there are more people and more possibilities for bad decisions from disagreements, peer pressure to exceed one's limits, splitting up important gear and multiplying the possible locations that need to be covered for a rescue attempt. As perverse as it might sound I think risk increases as more people are involved in many cases. When you know you are 100% responsible for every aspect of a hike I think the level of planning, attention and risk taking is maximized versus assuming someone else is taking care of something. I think that is just human nature.
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  2. #17
    Senior Member CaptCaper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DayTrip View Post
    The follow up link story has plenty of details to pass judgement on the scenario in my opinion. The 80 year old guy was pretty candid with the details and his thoughts. I feel like the 80 year old and the kids both made bad decisions. Not because they abandoned an 80 year old guy and not because the group split up. It was a bad call by all concerned because they weren't prepared for that weather with appropriate gear and knowledge. I felt that the weather was beyond "questionable" and warranted a more conservative course of action considering their gear they had, the volume of hiking they had already done earlier in the week, etc. The kids pushed it by pressing on in those conditions to summit and the 80 year old by his own admission didn't have proper gear and was not feeling up to it. This feels like a case of "summit fever" gone wrong trying to bag the tallest mountains in these states. I think it was good fortune that everyone made it out OK.

    And I'd also chime in that splitting a group isn't automatically a bad decision either as is so often referenced in these stories. But bad individual decisions can be made that lead to splitting up the group for the wrong reasons and increase the risks for all involved. As someone who hikes alone I always pay special note of the fact that most rescues involve retrieving someone who was part of a group and that the number of people in the group did not make it smarter or safer or better equipped for the decision making process. It just means there are more people and more possibilities for bad decisions from disagreements, peer pressure to exceed one's limits, splitting up important gear and multiplying the possible locations that need to be covered for a rescue attempt. As perverse as it might sound I think risk increases as more people are involved in many cases. When you know you are 100% responsible for every aspect of a hike I think the level of planning, attention and risk taking is maximized versus assuming someone else is taking care of something. I think that is just human nature.

    Amen. Finally some one nailed it. Thank you.

  3. #18
    Senior Member Red Oak's Avatar
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  4. #19
    Senior Member dave.m's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DayTrip View Post
    The follow up link story has plenty of details to pass judgement on the scenario in my opinion. The 80 year old guy was pretty candid with the details and his thoughts. I feel like the 80 year old and the kids both made bad decisions. Not because they abandoned an 80 year old guy and not because the group split up. It was a bad call by all concerned because they weren't prepared for that weather with appropriate gear and knowledge. I felt that the weather was beyond "questionable" and warranted a more conservative course of action considering their gear they had, the volume of hiking they had already done earlier in the week, etc. The kids pushed it by pressing on in those conditions to summit and the 80 year old by his own admission didn't have proper gear and was not feeling up to it. This feels like a case of "summit fever" gone wrong trying to bag the tallest mountains in these states. I think it was good fortune that everyone made it out OK.

    And I'd also chime in that splitting a group isn't automatically a bad decision either as is so often referenced in these stories. But bad individual decisions can be made that lead to splitting up the group for the wrong reasons and increase the risks for all involved. As someone who hikes alone I always pay special note of the fact that most rescues involve retrieving someone who was part of a group and that the number of people in the group did not make it smarter or safer or better equipped for the decision making process. It just means there are more people and more possibilities for bad decisions from disagreements, peer pressure to exceed one's limits, splitting up important gear and multiplying the possible locations that need to be covered for a rescue attempt. As perverse as it might sound I think risk increases as more people are involved in many cases. When you know you are 100% responsible for every aspect of a hike I think the level of planning, attention and risk taking is maximized versus assuming someone else is taking care of something. I think that is just human nature.

    I agree with pretty much everything here. I will add only this, which I think is a good way to untangle the issue of risk.

    A standard way to define risk is that RISK = THREAT X IMPACT,
    where THREAT = The probability of a bad thing happening
    and IMPACT = The probability (or degree to which) the bad event will cause damage.

    Some examples... Threat is the chance of rock fall on a route. Impact is whether or not you're wearing a helmet. Generally, wearing a helmet reduces the impact of a rock fall event. (Note, Paul Petzhold and many others have argued that if wearing a helmet makes you more likely to climb a route with rock fall hazard, then the helmet can increase threat).

    Avalanche conditions are threat. Wearing a beacon may reduce impact.

    Hiking in a relatively inexperienced group can increase threat (since bad decisions are more likely). Hiking solo increases the impact of a incapacitating injury. (Note: I hike solo sometimes.)

    A story... When my son was 10 we planned a trip to Crag with a buddy of mine. My buddy bailed last minute but my son and I pressed ahead as it's a very familiar trip for us. On the first night, I got hit with a tooth abscess, which was nearly incapacitating. We gingerly retreated down Hinks and Amphribrach and I barely made the long drive home in the worst pain of my life. I ended up in the ER later that night and had an emergency extraction the next day. I was very aware on the hike down how exposed my son was. With me incapacitated (or nearly so) he was more vulnerable. The small group size increased the impact of an injury.

    I agree completely with your assessment of the bad decisions made on this recent Washington event. The exposed themselves to too much threat by pressing into bad weather with bad clothing, both of which increased the probability of being incapacitated. Given the age mix though (yes, I'm expressing some agism), I additionally think it was unwise for them to split up. Yes, there are 80 year olds who can hike solo in bad weather in the Presis and I aspire to be one someday. But they are noteworthy because they are exceptions to the rule. Muscle mass loss among elders is a simple reality. Similar concern for the 14 year old. Few 14 year olds are capable of hiking solo or taking over responsibility of a bad situation should the 19 yo trip and break an ankle.

    IMO, 3 is an ideal party size in bad weather or on exposed routes. When we skied the Upper Nanamacomuk a few years ago (Lily Pond to Bear Notch Rd), we did it with a party of 3. Creates options for dealing with injuries. PLBs change this somewhat, but DougPaul has reported here that he was unable to reach his sat phone when he spiral fractured his femur up on Livermore Rd. Yes, hiking solo can reduce threat but it also increases impact.

    Last thing to add. Risk is something we manage and is often pretty irrational. We (or at least, I) want some risk. That's a part of it.
    - Dave (a.k.a. pinnah)

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  5. #20
    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dave.m View Post
    I will add only this, which I think is a good way to untangle the issue of risk.

    A standard way to define risk is that RISK = THREAT X IMPACT,
    where THREAT = The probability of a bad thing happening
    and IMPACT = The probability (or degree to which) the bad event will cause damage.

    .
    I've always followed a similar "model" with my thought process. I try to decide what the PROBABILITY of an event happening is and what the CONSEQUENCES of that event happening mean for me and plan accordingly. For most hikes I evaluate three general categories: wind, visibility and fall potential. To me these categories all have an uncontrollable element to them regardless of experience and equipment. When there is a high probability of a bad consequence event in any one of these categories, or worse, in multiple categories I need to reassess the trip goals because I am increasing my risk. Most other variables can be managed with proper gear and clothing or ultimately are a derivative risk of these 3 things to me. On a sunny day with 15 mph winds I may be more than willing to do Huntington Ravine Trail despite some probability of falling. If it's foggy and the winds are 40 mph the situation is totally different. The risk/reward balance has changed. A gust of wind might unexpected negate any skill and balance I have with rock scrambling. And even with state of the art goggles or glasses dense fog might make navigation difficult or impossible, slowing me down and potentially exposing me to other variables (hypothermia, impaired judgement from panic, etc). I might still do the hike but it is a less "sound" decision, at least the way I see it.

    And to your point on groups, I feel group size guarantees nothing with bad things happening or not happening but it can obviously be a major benefit to responding to a bad event. I can't hike out to a trail head and cell service to call a rescue for myself if I break my leg in the wilderness. I think people confuse that. Group size is a potentially big factor in the response to an event but not necessarily the prevention of said event. So I put a lot of weight on preventing the event and minimizing my chances of events happening. I've dislocated a shoulder on a frigid Winter day (stupid gear decisions based on inexperience) and sprained an ankle in Sphinx Col on a nice Summer day (freak accident that I in no way would have anticipated) . Fortunately I was able to get myself out of the woods alone both times but the events really helped frame my thoughts on risk exposure and the real magnitude of what hiking alone can mean.
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  6. #21
    Senior Member TEO's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dave.m View Post
    A story... When my son was 10 we planned a trip to Crag with a buddy of mine. My buddy bailed last minute but my son and I pressed ahead as it's a very familiar trip for us. On the first night, I got hit with a tooth abscess, which was nearly incapacitating. We gingerly retreated down Hinks and Amphribrach and I barely made the long drive home in the worst pain of my life. I ended up in the ER later that night and had an emergency extraction the next day. I was very aware on the hike down how exposed my son was. With me incapacitated (or nearly so) he was more vulnerable. The small group size increased the impact of an injury.
    On an aside to the main topic, this is a good reason to carry left-over, post-surgery pain meds in your first aid kit. Many years ago, I was on a hike and we had almost the exact same scenario, except that we were nine miles deep in the Adirondack wilderness. Someone had percocet in their first aid kit, and just one pill made the pain tolerable enough to for the person to hike out. They had an emergency extraction, too.

  7. #22
    Senior Member skiguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TEO View Post
    On an aside to the main topic, this is a good reason to carry left-over, post-surgery pain meds in your first aid kit. Many years ago, I was on a hike and we had almost the exact same scenario, except that we were nine miles deep in the Adirondack wilderness. Someone had percocet in their first aid kit, and just one pill made the pain tolerable enough to for the person to hike out. They had an emergency extraction, too.
    Good idea if you have already had surgery. I guess you could just go get a root canal for the heck of it. I have been on numerous expeditions for extended periods where a Dental exam has been part of pre trip preparation. Good idea to keep up on those xrays! The other potential scenario that can happened is something rogue with in your food source. Back in the early seventies before dry food had taken a real hold a friend of mine bite down on what turned out to be a piece of bone and lost a filling. We were at Guyout and it was early evening. It was a long night. Of course we were dining on one of the specialties of the day....Hormel Dinty Moore Stew!
    Last edited by skiguy; 06-19-2019 at 01:57 PM.
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  8. #23
    Senior Member TEO's Avatar
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    We don't know what Mr. Clark was wearing, but he had on five layers. From the Union Leader article, "Although Clark said he was dressed in five layers and felt he was prepared, the cold was more extreme than he expected." I carry three extra layers, and feel that I'm well prepared for most conditions.

    Showing his bias and ignorance, Major Dave Walsh said, “'I don’t know his physical shape, but he’s 80 years old.'” According to the Union Leader article linked above, "Clark said he enjoys 20-mile walks a few times a week . . ." and we know that they had hiked Marcy and Mansfield over the two previous days, though the elder Clark didn't summit Mansfield due to a fall where he bruised his tailbone.

    What I have seen reported is what his five layers were, and what knowledge or warning they had about the weather above treeline. But based on the what has been reported, the notion that they were negligent in my view is laughable, and sadly indicates that we are no longer allowed to make mistakes or misjudgements when hiking. Only the flawless and infallible should apparently be allowed to hike.
    Last edited by TEO; 06-19-2019 at 02:34 PM.

  9. #24
    Senior Member dug's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TEO View Post
    On an aside to the main topic, this is a good reason to carry left-over, post-surgery pain meds in your first aid kit. Many years ago, I was on a hike and we had almost the exact same scenario, except that we were nine miles deep in the Adirondack wilderness. Someone had percocet in their first aid kit, and just one pill made the pain tolerable enough to for the person to hike out. They had an emergency extraction, too.
    Ran into a similar story and happened to have a few leftovers in my kit. They did make a big difference. Not that it was a carry-worthy injury, but still a painful one and the meds helped.

  10. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by TEO View Post
    We don't know what Mr. Clark was wearing, but he had on five layers. From the Union Leader article, "Although Clark said he was dressed in five layers and felt he was prepared, the cold was more extreme than he expected." I carry three extra layers, and feel that I'm well prepared for most conditions.

    Showing his bias and ignorance, Major Dave Walsh said, “'I don’t know his physical shape, but he’s 80 years old.'” [URL="https://www.unionleader.com/news/safety/rescued-ohio-hiker-blames-himself-not-grandsons/article_47414149-33bd-5e90-b872-4b2c2809d7d5.html"]According to the Union Leader article linked above, "Clark said he enjoys 20-mile walks a few times a week . . ." and we know that they had hiked Marcy and Mansfield over the two previous days, though the elder Clark didn't summit Mansfield due to a fall where he bruised his tailbone.

    What I have seen reported is what his five layers were, and what knowledge or warning they had about the weather above treeline. But based on the what has been reported, the notion that they were negligent in my view is laughable, and sadly indicates that we are no longer allowed to make mistakes or misjudgements when hiking. Only the flawless and infallible should apparently be allowed to hike.
    There have been several reports of F&G staff talking to hikers they have rescued on the way out. The hiker thinks its just general interest but F&G uses it as evidence in preparing the complaint. Best idea is to consider your Miranda rights You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can be used against you in court. You have the right to talk to a lawyer for advice before we ask you any questions. You have the right to have a lawyer with you during questioning. If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be appointed for you before any questioning if you wish. If you decide to answer questions now without a lawyer present, you have the right to stop answering at any time

  11. #26
    Senior Member DougPaul's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dave.m View Post
    PLBs change this somewhat, but DougPaul has reported here that he was unable to reach his sat phone when he spiral fractured his femur up on Livermore Rd.
    A correction:
    * Didn't have a sat phone, did have a cellphone.
    * Had a signal and successfully called 911. However, by this time there was someone (without a phone) with me who could have skied out and gotten help. It just would have taken a bit longer...

    FWIW, this was a low probability, high impact situation. (I was skiing on easy terrain at the time and a blowdown "jumped out" and grabbed my ski.)

    Comment on the Clark incident: I don't recall any info on where they were when they split up. It might have been low enough that Mr. Clark could have returned easily on his own. (If so, he presumably chose to continue.)

    Doug

  12. #27
    Senior Member TEO's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DougPaul View Post
    Comment on the Clark incident: I don't recall any info on where they were when they split up. It might have been low enough that Mr. Clark could have returned easily on his own. (If so, he presumably chose to continue.)
    From the aforementioned Union Leader article, "About a half-hour into the hike, Clark said he told his grandsons to go ahead." We can infer that they were on the Tuckerman Ravine Trail before the intersection with the Lion Head Trail when they split.

  13. #28
    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TEO View Post
    From the aforementioned Union Leader article, "About a half-hour into the hike, Clark said he told his grandsons to go ahead." We can infer that they were on the Tuckerman Ravine Trail before the intersection with the Lion Head Trail when they split.
    And that makes me wonder even more. A seasoned and experienced hiker only 30 minutes into the day got into such bad trouble he had to be rescued? I got the impression he was rescued where they split up because he underestimated the difficulty of the trail and was cold and tired but they also indicated that he was carried out to Auto Road so I presume he went up Lion Head to treeline somewhere after they split up. Did I miss a piece of info? If it was only 30 minutes into day it seems much more plausible that Clark was perfectly fine when he told kids to go on ahead, which makes then decision seem perfectly normal. I need to go back and reread the article again.
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  14. #29
    Senior Member TJsName's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DayTrip View Post
    And that makes me wonder even more. A seasoned and experienced hiker only 30 minutes into the day got into such bad trouble he had to be rescued? I got the impression he was rescued where they split up because he underestimated the difficulty of the trail and was cold and tired but they also indicated that he was carried out to Auto Road so I presume he went up Lion Head to treeline somewhere after they split up. Did I miss a piece of info? If it was only 30 minutes into day it seems much more plausible that Clark was perfectly fine when he told kids to go on ahead, which makes then decision seem perfectly normal. I need to go back and reread the article again.
    I believe he was found above treeline, so it sounds like he pushed on on his own. Anyone hear what trail the kids came down? If upper TRT was closed, I would guess it was Boott Spur. Very odd to me that they didn't do it as an out and back (to ensure they'd regroup). I've employed this strategy with people when it's clear that not everyone is going to summit.

    I find that many of my inexperienced hiking friends really underestimate the risk and impact of hypothermia (they push back when I tell them to bring a jacket). They tend to be more worried about bears, and are surprised when I tell them it's mice that I worry about.

    I do find it annoying that people think that he was reckless just because he's 80. A 40 year-old could have made the same mistake. Unless there is evidence of reduced mental faculties, then it's not a useful generalization; it's just a way for people to build a narrative that matches up with their own biases.
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  15. #30
    Senior Member dave.m's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TEO View Post
    On an aside to the main topic, this is a good reason to carry left-over, post-surgery pain meds in your first aid kit. Many years ago, I was on a hike and we had almost the exact same scenario, except that we were nine miles deep in the Adirondack wilderness. Someone had percocet in their first aid kit, and just one pill made the pain tolerable enough to for the person to hike out. They had an emergency extraction, too.
    As it turns out, I had the tooth inspected by dentist the day prior to leaving. I grind my teeth and worried I had cracked a tooth. She diagnosed it as occlusal trauma, which is something I became familiar with prior to getting a mouth guard. There was no obvious sign of abscess st that time.

    Putting this in classic risk terms, I did the obvious things to reduce the threat but it still happened.
    - Dave (a.k.a. pinnah)

    " Power corrupts. Absolute power is kind of neat." - John Lehman, US Secretary of the Navy 1981-1987

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