Info on second recent Fatality on Katahdin

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peakbagger

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https://www.pressherald.com/2020/10...of-mount-katahdin-identified-as-maryland-man/

This probably tells its all. Few day hikers including myself would have enough gear to survive these conditions on a non winter hike.

"Last Wednesday evening the weather was foggy and rainy, with temperatures plummeting to single digits with sub-zero windchills by Thursday morning. Mr. Bell’s clothing and equipment were insufficient for a prolonged stay in such conditions,”

RIP
 

Tom_Murphy

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This probably tells its all. Few day hikers including myself would have enough gear to survive these conditions on a non winter hike.

Given the weather report for that day, would you have considered this a "non-winter" hike?

To reiterate what I posted to a previous thread, my gear list is more comprehensive and my risk tolerance lower for a hike with rain and temperatures in the mid to upper 30s then it is for a hike with snow and temperatures in the teens.
 

peakbagger

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Very simple, I would not go hiking that day. The park posts forecasts every morning specific to the summits. Every hiker legally entering the park and hiking have to sign in and out almost directly under the forecast at the trailheads. These conditions were not a freak of nature they were forecast. I carry season specific equipment for my intended hike with some extra for "margin" in case the weather degrades. if the extra gear is being used I am heading down. I became a fair weather hiker long ago so I rarely get into this sort or predicament.

Without a lot more info its unknown if the hiker underestimated the potential conditions and overestimated their ability to survive them. For many a Katahdin trip is a must do trip but logistically they tend to plan for one maybe two days of hiking so they do not have a lot of options if the forecast for the two days is marginal. For many AT thru hikers they book one day before they head home. In many cases the temptation is head up and hope the conditions were overstated. Its easy in potential hypothermia conditions especially with solo hiker to loose clear thinking long before they realize that they are in over their head.
 

ChrisB

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https://www.pressherald.com/2020/10...of-mount-katahdin-identified-as-maryland-man/

This probably tells its all. Few day hikers including myself would have enough gear to survive these conditions on a non winter hike.

"Last Wednesday evening the weather was foggy and rainy, with temperatures plummeting to single digits with sub-zero windchills by Thursday morning. Mr. Bell’s clothing and equipment were insufficient for a prolonged stay in such conditions,”

RIP

Interesting that park staff are unclear about the trail and campground the victim used to approach the summit.
 

Tom_Murphy

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Every hiker legally entering the park and hiking have to sign in and out almost directly under the forecast at the trailheads. For many AT thru hikers they book one day before they head home.

Interesting that park staff are unclear about the trail and campground the victim used to approach the summit.

Yes, I think we might all be putting the same two and two together. It is certainly a possibility, that Nathan came in via the AT, stealth camped, and hiked up without the "AT hiker permit". I assume that fairly new permit system is still in place and active this year.

My condolences to his family and loved ones. So young...
 

peakbagger

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Yes the AT thru hiker permit system is still in place and as far as I know, they didnt hit the seasonal limit. One of the first reported thru hike completions of 2020 was prior to the park opening and was done without permits. I have seen several comments by various thru hikers this year that they regarded "sticking it to the man" ignoring Covid restrictions as "badge of honor". Of course until confirmed that the deceased came in by unusual means its just speculation.

Realistically the staff of the park near the end of the season is stretched thin. i think the seasonal staff are long gone and the remaining rangers are busy getting last minute work done before the snow moves in. Years ago a friend and I climbed South Brother and Coe on October 15th (at the time the last day the park was open for the non winter season). The Togue Pond gate was unattended with a sign in and sign out board and we saw no staff driving to or from the Marston trailhead. There was not a lot of traffic on the road as we had to stop at one point and cut a tree that was across the road that a beaver had dropped. We did meet a park naturalist with his son on Coe who was off for the season and getting in one more hike.
 

skiguy

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Back in the 70's and 80's there still was a system in place by the Baxter Rangers that closed above tree line travel in weather like this. Also the Winter rules were way more stringent then. Not sure exactly when things were loosened up at once or that happened over a course of time. I remember climbing there in the winter of '78 and we had to have a minimum team size of four climbers with our own back up team for rescue. An EMT was required to be on the team. Not sure but I think the number of climbing permits might have been limited to a manageable number also. Things have sure changed. With the increase of the number of hikers on the trails in general is it not inevitable that incidents of this nature will be on the rise?
 

egilbe

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I'm guessing he was a thru-hiker who decided to climb regardless of the consequences. Too much above treeline exposure for someone not dressed for the conditions.
 

TEO

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Not sure exactly when things were loosened up at once or that happened over a course of time.

It's my understanding that the immediate-past Park Director Jensen Bissell gradually loosened up the rules over the course of his tenure.
 
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I love Baxter and missed it for the first time in 38 years this year for obvious reasons. I'll be back!Not to ignite an old debate- I for one appreciated the rules, I thought these actually helped keep the remote nature of the place. The big mountain draws so many "must-do" hikers who will summit in any conditions. I can't comment on the winter rules, but the summer rules actually have not changed that much since I started there in the 80s. One thing that has changed is the ranger staffing, for many years I met the same rangers, especially at Roaring Brook, Chimney and Russell Pond. They helped us a lot, especially in learning about the backcountry away from Katadhin. Recent years I seem to see newbies almost everytime. They seem young, but that might be more a result of my age. Very sad, much too young, thoughts and prayers to he and his family.
 

ChrisB

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I love Baxter and missed it for the first time in 38 years this year for obvious reasons. I'll be back!Not to ignite an old debate- I for one appreciated the rules...

While the peak is a well defined goal, the Tablelands are a high and wild plateau where poor visibility can really screw you up. If you lose landmarks up there in fog or rain, you can do a lot of walking without getting anywhere. (See, Lost on a Mountain in Maine for specifics.)

If he approached from Katahdin Stream, the victim had a mile of Tableland to navigate before tagging the summit. If he was unfamiliar with Baxter he probably underestimated the seriousness of that last mile of the AT in marginal weather and visibility. So much for flying under the radar.

A shame indeed.
 

sierra

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Back in the 70's and 80's there still was a system in place by the Baxter Rangers that closed above tree line travel in weather like this. Also the Winter rules were way more stringent then. Not sure exactly when things were loosened up at once or that happened over a course of time. I remember climbing there in the winter of '78 and we had to have a minimum team size of four climbers with our own back up team for rescue. An EMT was required to be on the team. Not sure but I think the number of climbing permits might have been limited to a manageable number also. Things have sure changed. With the increase of the number of hikers on the trails in general is it not inevitable that incidents of this nature will be on the rise?

I remember that system, wasn't there a rating for the day type of thing? The rules were tough too, I was turned away, when I tried to get in for a winter solo. The rules were as you stated, party of 4 and so on.
 

hikerbrian

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While the peak is a well defined goal, the Tablelands are a high and wild plateau where poor visibility can really screw you up. If you lose landmarks up there in fog or rain, you can do a lot of walking without getting anywhere.

Can confirm. I think I've shared this before, but if not, here is how the Tablelands looked last time I was up there. We didn't make the summit and ended up navigating back to Abol slide by compass.
 

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