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

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skiguy

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Two rescues in one day on Mt. Washington. One resulting in a fatality. Condolences to family and friends.


http://northeastexplorer.com/wordpr...x-RIBlm5QWf1ODXTgJsvygo3VQ4qyl9UaHKuq9FEo9tPk


Quoted from NH Fish and Game Press release 06/14/19:


Hiker Rescued While Attempting to Ascend Lion Head Trail
Sargent’s Purchase – An Ohio man had to be rescued and carried out approximately 1.7 miles after attempting to ascend the Lion Head Trail in Sargent’s Purchase on Thursday June 13, 2019.
James Clark, 80, of Dublin Ohio was hiking with two other family members while attempting to summit Mount Washington from Pinkham Notch Visitors Center.
Shortly after starting the hike, all members of Clark’s hiking group left him behind to hike by himself as they continued to the summit. Clark’s hiking group ultimately summited without him then hiked down a different way, reaching the Pinkham Notch Visitors Center without Clark. At approximately 7:45 pm the two family members made a call to rescue personnel, reporting that Clark was overdue, not prepared with overnight gear and did not have a cell phone or light.
Fish and Game Conservation Officers responded to the emergency call and requested assistance from the Appalachian Mountain Club.
This was the second rescue call on Mount Washington within six hours and due to the timeline and location, it was noted that Clark would have suffered the same conditions that had potentially just played a role in a hiking fatality just hours before. Below freezing with a wind-chill of 12 degrees Fahrenheit, 60 mph sustaining winds and rain with dense fog creating ice were noted on the summit earlier in the day.
AMC staff, based at Hermit Lake Shelters, started up Lion Head Trail to give assistance and attempt to locate Clark as Conservation Officers responded.
Conservation Officers drove up the Auto Road and a team of two hiked down Tuckerman Ravine Trail and then Lion Head Trail to also attempt to locate Clark. An AMC staff member located Clark on the Lion Head Trail just above the Alpine Garden Trail intersection. Clark was found in a fetal position, not moving and exhibiting what appeared to be signs and symptoms of hypothermia to the point of not being able to speak any clear or discernable words.
The AMC staff member and team of Conservation Officers stripped Clark of his wet clothes and dressed him with warm dry clothes. They then placed Clark in a sleeping bag, to warm him. At this time it was decided that Clark had to be carried out in a litter as his condition and distance from a trailhead or road crossing was too far to “piggy back.” The three rescue personnel continued to keep Clark warm and alive as volunteer rescuers were called to assist in the life saving event.
AMC staff, Androscoggin Valley Search and Rescue Team members, and more Conservation Officers responded to the call and carried in a litter with all necessary gear to Clark’s location on Lion Head Trail. The litter and crews reached Clark at approximately 1:15 am and Clark was being carried across the Alpine Garden by 1:30 am.
The rescue crew carried Clark approximately 1.7 miles to the Auto Road and arrived at 5:00 am on Friday June 14, 2019. Clark was driven down the Auto Road to a waiting Gorham Ambulance where he was transported to Androscoggin Valley Hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries.
 
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egilbe

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The 2nd one sounds like attempted murder ! !

That's kind of what I thought, too. I'd be surprised if there aren't charges made against the family for abandoning an elderly man to his death.

"Gramps is living too long. I want my inheritance, now!"
"Lets take him hiking. He likes long walks. We can say he fell behind, yeah, that's the ticket to a quick fortune"

*searches for dangerous hikes in North America*

https://www.google.com/search?q=dan...rome..69i57.7335j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

"Hmm...Mt Washington isn't very tall and its failry close, Lets take him there!"

*starts counting the money*
 

CaptCaper

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Duh. the man was 80 yrs old. 1. He never should of hiked it with weather calling of that nature. They (family) were negligent and so was he. 2. which should be #1 Never of left him alone. Ever. But this is the same story of so many who perish or near perish on that Mt. and will always be in the future.
 

ChrisB

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Duh. the man was 80 yrs old. 1. He never should of hiked it with weather calling of that nature. They (family) were negligent and so was he. 2. which should be #1 Never of left him alone. Ever. But this is the same story of so many who perish or near perish on that Mt. and will always be in the future.

With a family like that, who needs enemies!!

Thursday was a mess down here on the coast. I looked at the summit cam and condx and, at only 71 years old, I wouldn't go up there no matter what my family said!

Sad thing is you can walk into Pinkham, go over to the Obs kiosk computer, look at the summit cam, read the current summit condx and know EXACTLY what you will be facing in a few short hours. But people don't do that.
cb
 
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ChrisB

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peakbagger

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I am not aware if there is any organized attempts at hiker education at Pinkham like there are at Appalachia and Franconia Ridge. Obviously plenty of info inside the visitors center but its easier to walk right by compared to the tents with volunteers. It was during the week so no tents anyhow but if they were there, would the volunteers have made the difference. Long ago I heard reference that on occasion the volunteers at Tucks on particularly nasty or risky days would ask for name and contact info for next kin to speed up handling the bodies for anyone who still decided to head into the bowl. Not sure if it was true or not, but I expect it would be difficult to overcome peoples overestimation of ability and underestimation of the trail and weather conditions. Add in hypothermia clouding their judgement and the assumption that rescue is right at hand at the touch of button and it adds up more bad news.
 

CaptCaper

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TEO

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"Fish and Game Maj. Dave Walsh said on Friday that the trio broke several rules of hiking, including leaving Clark on his own."

(Source.)

This is one of the reasons why NH's charging-for-rescues is stupid—this "rules of hiking" b.s. There is nothing wrong with letting someone hike on their own, even if they are 80 years old. Based on the article above, it's sounds as if they did everything right, except for not realizing the severity of the weather, and perhaps for not having a light, which may not have made a difference.
 

TEO

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Probably had sneakers on. No hiking poles.

Wait, are we supposed to be hiking with poles now? What's wrong with hiking in sneakers?

Like your comments about the 80 year-old hiker, I think you're reading an awful lot into the situation. Unless, you're privy to information that hasn't been posted here, I might suggest that you refrain from being so judgmental with so few facts.
 

OldEric

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Wait, are we supposed to be hiking with poles now? What's wrong with hiking in sneakers?

Like your comments about the 80 year-old hiker, I think you're reading an awful lot into the situation. Unless, you're privy to information that hasn't been posted here, I might suggest that you refrain from being so judgmental with so few facts.

+1. Totally agree there there is no where near enough information to reach any conclusion. There are plenty of 80 year olds who could hike circles around most of us. Wearing "sneakers". Without poles....
 

sierra

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Here are my 2 cents on this old dude. I don't care if groups split up, I solo. To say a group must stay together is a saying I never understood. I do think he was under prepared and for that reason he was negligent. He was climbing a notorious mountain with a forecast that was iffy at best and he did not have the proper gear. How do I know that? If they ever find you in the fetal position suffering from hypothermia, its pretty much a give in. He did sound like a nice guy in the interview I read. He was perfectly willing to own up to his rescue and offer to pay if charged. Bottom line, he got lucky, but I am glad he did.
 

dave.m

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I think the 80yo victim gave enough details in his interview. He badly underestimated the mountain.

His summary is the TL/DR of the book "Not Without Peril" IMO.

In an interview in the MountainEar after the Tinkham/Haas incident in the 90s, Rick Wilcox, who led the rescue/recovery effort, noted that a part of the freedom of the hills that we enjoy in the Presidentials and that stands in stark contrast to tight control of Baxter is that people have the ability to drive to a trailhead, walk in and perish. Which is to say, we sort of accept that people will underestimate the mountain. I know I have and am glad to still be here.

Things could have been worse. It could have turned out that the kids he cut loose to summit got in trouble themselves. That would have been terrible.

I still solo hike and cast no aspirations in saying this, but I treat breaking up a group on trail, particularly if it leaves one person solo as a critical decision with potentially grave consequences. The potential of a twisted ankle or broken femur (paging DougPaul) hangs over all of our heads.
 

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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.
 

CaptCaper

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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.


Amen. Finally some one nailed it. Thank you.
 

dave.m

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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.


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.
 

DayTrip

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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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