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Thread: Trail Runners Rescued from Mt Lafayette

  1. #46
    Senior Member Mike P.'s Avatar
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    What peakbagger described would explain why when I've been up there that the very top of VW is so full of snow that the turn out of the drainage just below the hut is so obscured by snow that the trail often just stays in the drainage straight up to the hut. Before it begins to melt it's not a big deal, as it begins to rot from underneath it becomes an issue as far as getting wet.

    To bring it back to this incident, has there been an update? The Union Leader article I saw online mentioned it was updated, however, it seems just to be the F&G news story
    Have fun & be safe
    Mike P.

  2. #47
    Senior Member Grey J's Avatar
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    While it's awfully nice to have a mountain to yourself, it may not be a good sign that you are the only one(s) attempting your hike on a given day. While the stories in Gagne's two books are different in many ways, this aspect was quite similar. Very few ventured out on either of those days and the few who did had enough sense to bail out at or below treeline. In both stories, the plan was unrealistic given the (extreme and deadly) conditions. It's a shame that two people died and a third suffered grievous injuries but they certainly won't be the last.
    "I am a pilgrim and a stranger"

  3. #48
    Senior Member Mike P.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grey J View Post
    While it's awfully nice to have a mountain to yourself, it may not be a good sign that you are the only one(s) attempting your hike on a given day. While the stories in Gagne's two books are different in many ways, this aspect was quite similar. Very few ventured out on either of those days and the few who did had enough sense to bail out at or below treeline. In both stories, the plan was unrealistic given the (extreme and deadly) conditions. It's a shame that two people died and a third suffered grievous injuries but they certainly won't be the last.
    I was the only one outside on LeConte at Cliff Top when I did it, The remnants of Hurricane Dennis kept the bugs and people away or in the hut. That I guess would prove your point.

    It does get harder to do though, I must have had 15 to 20 friends for Sunrise over Half Dome from Sentinel Dome when I was out there in 2016 and that required a 4:00 AM entrance into the South Gate. (I got in at 3:00 determined not to miss it and waited at Washburn in the dark) I don't recall company on Windham on a Friday in early December with a pre-dawn start. (Starting in Utica and needing to shower at the gym back in Hartford and being in the office by 1:00 was the reason why the alpine start in the Catskills)

    Midweek in late fall when other than the grid hikers, there is no reason to do a hike that feels like winter and if you're a peakbagger counts just like summer. Staying off list hikes or at least the 4K list, may help. My first Martha trip was in early winter on a Friday afternoon with a start that got me to the top for sunset and great lighting on the snowcapped Presidentials. Descending in the dark in the winter, with headlamp of course isn't really for the novice though.

    Wrapping up my solo 48 on the Tripyramids in a cool heavy June rain a few years ago mid-week where I only saw the ranger probably proves your point too. Unless you hike at night, not during a full moon, if you are out on a Saturday and don't see anyone, your lost in the woods someplace.
    Last edited by Mike P.; 01-26-2021 at 05:54 AM.
    Have fun & be safe
    Mike P.

  4. #49
    Senior Member skiguy's Avatar
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    The flying expertise of The Pilot and the Helicopter Team in this rescue and also The Osborne incident is amazing. Just another day at the Office?Not really. Gagne really nails it home in “The Last Traverse” just what it takes. Not to mention them coordinating the tasks with F&G and Mountain Rescue.
    "I'm getting up and going to work everyday and I am stoked. That does not suck!"__Shane McConkey

  5. #50
    Moderator bikehikeskifish's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skiguy View Post
    The flying expertise of The Pilot and the Helicopter Team in this rescue and also The Osborne incident is amazing. Just another day at the Office?Not really. Gagne really nails it home in “The Last Traverse” just what it takes. Not to mention them coordinating the tasks with F&G and Mountain Rescue.
    I just read The Last Traverse this weekend (hey, it was too cold for my liking) and I agree -- the Black Hawk 031 crew arc was gripping. Not to take away anything from the other groups involved (NHF&G, MSR, PVSART, ...) but I think I (we?) hear about these guys more than we do about the NHARNG. The skill and nerves required to keep the bird atop Little Haystack on one wheel in 60+ winds with gusts in low-vis, super cold weather is unbelievable. The pilots state that was the hardest mission they have ever flown. And, as a result, they now carry additional cold-weather survival gear on the chopper for future similar missions.

    Tim
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  6. #51
    Senior Member hikerbrian's Avatar
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    Great comments here. Regarding Matrasova, I still think the fundamental issues were 1) She simply did not know how bad it could get up there, that conditions sometimes are simply not survivable; and 2) Her 'push forward' instinct was stronger than her survival instinct. I don't recall definitive evidence that hypothermia played a role in her decision making. The photo of her after summiting Madison showed signs of frostbite, but we're speculating on hypothermia at that point, right, and whether that impacted her decision making? Correct me if I'm forgetting some details.

    I concur regarding that stretch between upper Bruin and Madison hut. We were waste to chest deep with snowshoes on a couple years back. Absolutely brutal. Had to pack down the snow in front of us with our arms before every step just to be able to get a snowshoe on top of it. The requisite effort ultimately sank our traverse attempt that particular year.

    Appreciate the comments from you ultra-fit trail runners. My feeling is that trail running is like soloing in winter. It's not fundamentally unsafe, you just have to modify your risk assessment. Back to the story, I too thought I'd heard it all, but one of them lost both shoes and they kept going?? What in the holy crap was going through their minds at the moment the shoe(s) came off?? Did he lose both at the same time, or were they separated by some time? How much effort did they put in to finding them? I have so many questions...
    Sure. Why not.

  7. #52
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    In my opinion with respect to the trail runners and lost shoes, they were drifting into hypothermia once they got out in the wind, they didnt know it and their higher logic functions were already impacted. At some point their survival response kicked in and they headed down hoping to get out of the wind on what is the most windy spot on the ridge.

  8. #53
    Senior Member DougPaul's Avatar
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    Many without local experience also underestimate the weather in the Whites. After all, the tallest peak is only 6288 ft--how bad can it get? But as those with local experience know, the weather in these molehills can be as bad as that found in much higher ranges.

    Doug

  9. #54
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    Quote Originally Posted by hikerbrian View Post
    We were waste to chest deep
    Yuck. Off trail?

  10. #55
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    Quote Originally Posted by OldEric View Post
    Yuck. Off trail?
    I wouldn't drink from Star Lake...lots of waste

  11. #56
    Senior Member sierra's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DougPaul View Post
    Many without local experience also underestimate the weather in the Whites. After all, the tallest peak is only 6288 ft--how bad can it get? But as those with local experience know, the weather in these molehills can be as bad as that found in much higher ranges.

    Doug
    This is a very good point. I grew up hiking in the Whites, it was all I knew before I went out west. One of my first big climbs in Yosemite was Mt.Dana (13,003 ft.). On the day of my climb, there was 4 inches of fresh snow on the mountain and the mountain was in the clouds, winds were around 20mph, temp around 20F. Roughly halfway up, I ran into three separate parties turning around, all stating that conditions were not good. At that time, I thought they were pretty good. I sat and tried to evaluate the conditions and couldn't come up with a legitimate reason to turn around. I summited alone and the clouds lifted while I was on the summit. I descended in the sunshine and it was a wonderful hike. At that point in my career, I had about 45 solo winter ascents of Washington, not a bad education. CA climbers have nothing on New England climbers.

  12. #57
    Senior Member hikerbrian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OldEric View Post
    Yuck. Off trail?
    Ha! Saw that after I posted, and I'm not editing because I'm just not. I mean, I've heard the Whites are pretty bad this year...
    Sure. Why not.

  13. #58
    Senior Member richard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DougPaul View Post
    Many without local experience also underestimate the weather in the Whites. After all, the tallest peak is only 6288 ft--how bad can it get? But as those with local experience know, the weather in these molehills can be as bad as that found in much higher ranges.

    Doug
    I agree with this. I suppose Matrasova figured the same thing, since she probably considered it a simple hike & climb compared with what she’d previously accomplished.
    Last edited by richard; 01-26-2021 at 10:35 PM.

  14. #59
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    Just came across a facebook post where a group of pemi-valley hikers headed up Lafayette, encountered these two coming back down. They told them to follow their snowshoe tracks back out and they were 10 minutes from treeline.

  15. #60
    Senior Member Mike P.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by egilbe View Post
    Just came across a facebook post where a group of pemi-valley hikers headed up Lafayette, encountered these two coming back down. They told them to follow their snowshoe tracks back out and they were 10 minutes from treeline.
    Interesting, ten minutes below treeline or above?

    If above, in fog and wind, the path may have been obliterated. if below, were they above the hut? Did the group come up OBP or Greenleaf, The two were found in the Lafayette drainage which would mean they either lost the trail above line, not that hard in fog and wind and blowing snow or maybe if the group came up OBP and the duo were headed to Cannon by Greenleaf they lost the trail. (The article said they were doing the loop so I suspect the former.)
    Have fun & be safe
    Mike P.

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