Oct 28, 2010 at 12:56 pm #1264910
– winter is upon us
– days are getting short
– sudden snow storms can happen anytime
– be prepared to spend the night at worst
oh … and carry a red poncho (not one of the stealth colors)
she was skilled enought to survive the night with some frostbite and hypothermia …
and lucky enough that the SAR people are top notchOct 28, 2010 at 2:15 pm #1659013
I will never understand why people go into the mountains unprepared. Im not that great at survival skills, the fastest hiker, etc, but i at least know to come prepared for the worst weather i may encounter. She must be a complete novice, in which case, why is she going into the mountains unprepared. SHe should be over-prepared with a 70lb pack.Oct 28, 2010 at 2:40 pm #1659020
How do you know that? Have you hiked that actual trail? I have. It is rocks and can be deceiving near the lake. That she stayed PUT and was found meant she used her head. Had she been an idiot she'd have kept hiking, gotten super lost and been found in the spring.
I'd say she did well for what happened. The snow didn't quit dumping for 2+ days and I have to say….if I was caught in the dark, then it snowed overnight Id be cautious about hiking out immediately in a white out come daylight.Oct 28, 2010 at 3:16 pm #1659027
6500' is pretty far up the hill for this time of year– just when the freezing level drops and the precip goes up. To give you an idea, my parents lived in Easton, at around 2500', but still on the east side of the Cascades and have had accumulations of eight feet of snow— that was on the flat with no drifts. It can really come down.
It sounds like she had some equipment, but was light on clothing. Being a hiking instructor from the Ukraine, she should have known better. At least her family knew she was overdue and where she was hiking. If she were on an overnight with tent and sleeping gear, she still may not have been able to handle 5' drifts or find the trail.
A recent thread discussed day hiking gear and this is exactly the sort of scenario I prepare for. Stuff happens!Oct 28, 2010 at 3:54 pm #1659041
"Have you hiked that actual trail? I have. It is rocks and can be deceiving near the lake. That she stayed PUT and was found meant she used her head. Had she been an idiot she'd have kept hiking, gotten super lost and been found in the spring."
+1 There are lots of opportunities to get in trouble up there in bad weather, cliff bands below Ingalls Lake, etc. She did the right thing, although I will add that she should have carried more clothing and possibly a bivy bag at this time of year, as part of her emergency kit. I know I sure do. Still, she kept her head, and that made all the difference in what could otherwise been a fatal situation.
Holy cow!! I just looked at the Google map of the area and it looks like they found her down along Ingalls creek below the lake. It was good that she got down in the valley, but getting down there would have been a bit dicey if she started from the lake. There are numerous cliff bands directly below the lake that would have presented a real challenge in bad weather. OTOH, if she descended there from Ingalls Pass, the going would have been a lot easier. Good thinking on her part in either case. Definitely an
On further reflection, I've got to backtrack on the experienced hiker comment. She might well have been lost and ended up down there willy nilly. Maybe it was a combo of clear thinking and experience, or maybe it was an example of a blind squirrel occasionally finding a nut. Either way
I'm glad she came through it alive. It would be very interesting to hear her version of things.Oct 28, 2010 at 4:03 pm #1659047
Natalya Manko survived in the Cascade Mountains for three freezing nights wearing nothing more than sneakers, jeans, plastic wind pants, a light rain jacket and a rain poncho. She couldn’t see the sky and couldn’t get her bearings most of the time. She had no tent and no sleeping bag to protect her from the snow that piled up."
No shelterOct 28, 2010 at 4:18 pm #1659054
@jakep_82Locale: Pacific Northwest
The scouts encountered her off trail and lost. Even after warning her about the time she still tried to make the lake late in the day. While she may have done well to survive, she shouldn't have been off trail and she shouldn't have continued hiking in that late in the day. Both of those can be fatal mistakes.Oct 28, 2010 at 5:04 pm #1659063
True, but who are we to arm chair quarterback her? Seriously people! Heaven forbid one of us get lost, hurt or get over our heads….I am sure it is awful knowing strangers are discussing what they all think that happened.
Until it happens to us, we have no idea how we would react.Oct 28, 2010 at 5:36 pm #1659074
"True, but who are we to arm chair quarterback her? Seriously people! Heaven forbid one of us get lost, hurt or get over our heads….I am sure it is awful knowing strangers are discussing what they all think that happened."
I'd like to think of it more as a teaching moment, Sarah. Every time something like this happens, there is a post mortem somewhere and people learn from it. Accidents in North American Mountaineering, published by the American Alpine Club, is a compendium of such accidents for climbers. It analyzes every reported climbing accident each year and publishes the results. Almost invariably, poor judgment is a factor. The idea is not to humiliate those involved but, rather, to educate the climbing community at large. In my opinion, these forum discussions can serve a similar purpose for BPLer's on a smaller scale. We have a lot of noobies here who could especially benefit, but I think even more experienced folks can learn a thing or two as well. Everybody makes mistakes from time to time, and it doesn't hurt to review these situations and perhaps be reminded we may be getting a bit slack, or cutting corners in our hiking preparation by seeing a bit of ourselves in someone else's unfortunate situation.
"Until it happens to us, we have no idea how we would react."
Perhaps, perhaps not. That depends to a large degree on an individual's personality and experience level. In any case, the whole idea of being properly equipped is to minimize the extent to which an individual will have to rely solely on their conditioning and inner resources to survive, which in some cases will simply not be enough. That is why The 10 Essentials is universally accepted as the minimum gear one should carry when venturing into the mountains. By this standard, she was manifestly unprepared for the situation she found herself in and lucky to be alive. If the weather had deteriorated to the point where SAR had been forced to delay the search, she would probably not have survived. This is not to judge her as a person, but merely to point out that in this situation she made a potentially fatal mistake and put the lives of others at risk in the bargain. Lots of others have done the same. Let us all learn from it.Oct 28, 2010 at 5:43 pm #1659078
From the interviews, it appears she's in the hospital being evaluated for frostbite. If she had been out another night or in 10 degree colder temps, I don't think she would've made it. The conditions seem to indicate building a snow-worthy, insulated shelter along with a body-length warming fire (due to inadequate clothing). She didn't do any of this.
Regardless, the fact that she didn't panic or wander off a cliff, stayed put, made-do with the poncho she had, and demonstrated her determination to survive shows that she's a strong and amazing person. She passed the ultimate test of harsh reality.Oct 28, 2010 at 5:55 pm #1659083
Gosh Tom. The second post in recent days from you that's very well thought out, very well put, very well reasoned. I can't wait to get old too so I can better express myself! ;-)Oct 28, 2010 at 6:13 pm #1659088
@elf773Locale: Vancouver, BC
..those who think it's all skill underestimate the luck involved, and those who think it's all luck underestimate the skill necessary.
Glad she's OK.Oct 28, 2010 at 6:42 pm #1659094
"Gosh Tom. The second post in recent days from you that's very well thought out, very well put, very well reasoned."
Only in comparison to the majority of my posts, I fear. :-(
"I can't wait to get old too so I can better express myself!"
Take your time, Doug; the Golden Years ain't what they're cracked up to be.Oct 28, 2010 at 6:44 pm #1659095
@butukiLocale: Kanto Plain, Japan
The idea is not to humiliate those involved but, rather, to educate the climbing community at large. In my opinion, these forum discussions can serve a similar purpose for BPLer's on a smaller scale. We have a lot of noobies here who could especially benefit, but I think even more experienced folks can learn a thing or two as well.
Very good point, Tom. Just imagine what we wouldn't learn if we didn't talk about and voice our opinions about what happens. And Sarah's objections are useful, too, in that they provide perspective and emphasize what it is that we need to learn.Oct 28, 2010 at 6:48 pm #1659099
"And Sarah's objections are useful, too, in that they provide perspective and emphasize what it is that we need to learn."
Agreed. And also to keep the discussion positively focused on learning, rather than putting a person down.Oct 28, 2010 at 6:49 pm #1659100
"Very good point, Tom. Just imagine what we wouldn't learn if we didn't talk about and voice our opinions about what happens. And Sarah's objections are useful, too, in that they provide perspective and emphasize what it is that we need to learn."
Hey Miguel! What about my perspective! You know, about getting old and all. Sheesh, I never get any credit……Oct 28, 2010 at 6:50 pm #1659101
"Hey Miguel! What about my perspective! You know, about getting old and all. Sheesh, I never get any credit……"
You're just not old enough yet, Doug. ;)Oct 28, 2010 at 7:24 pm #1659109
I am grateful that she is okay.
So what can be learned from this? How can you avoid being a negative statistic?
Leave an itinerary with someone you can trust to take action and have a set time for check-in: "I am going on the Lost Lake trail and I will call in by sundown Sunday." I print out the trail info and leave that with my trusted contact.
Check the weather report and coordinate it with the location and elevation you will be at. In the Cascades, I expect precipitation if the report is 30% or more. Hiking at 6500' in October with cloudy skies calls for precipitation, and I would expect snow at anything above 3000' other than MAYBE July or August. Rain is a reality 24/7/365. I have been snowed on in early June at 3000' on the west side of the Cascades, which of course turned to near freezing rain as I descended. Lovely hiking weather ;)
As in this case, if you run short on time, turn around and go home. Ditto if the weather turns. You want to survive this trip to enjoy many more. That lake isn't going anywhere. Getting lost in the dark and snow in steep country is just a first row ticket to the Darwin Awards.
If you find yourself off trail, going farther is not the best idea. If you are confident in finding your way back to the trailhead, fine. If you aren't sure what is ahead, quit. This is recreation— fresh air and excercise– not worth dieing for.
Be prepared: that is what the "10 essentials" are all about. First and foremost, if you have a map and compass, don't wait until your are lost to use them! Keep track of where you are. Add GPS and rinse.
In this case, she had a poncho, which I think is a prefectly good emergency shelter. I would have used my knife and fire starting gear to get a roaring fire going, strung my poncho, put on my extra clothing, climbed into my emergency bivy, ate some of my extra food, got my whistle out and started making some noise. Perhaps not cozy, but nearly comfortable with a fire going. Certainly not hypothermic or frostbitten in those conditions. It just takes some basic skills and a tiny bit of equipment.
This is not an isolated incident. I see totally unprepared day hikers on every popular trail all summer long.
Typical day hiking group of 3-4 people:
One person in the party MIGHT know the trail. The others have NO clue where they are or where they are headed other than it is a lake or waterfall, etc.
No maps or compasses. No GPS.
All bare-handed– not even a water bottle. If they are carrying something it is a cell phone or MP3 player. Nothing on the essentials list.
All wearing cotton.
Several show signs of being out of shape– stumbling gait, sweating, breathing hard.
Shoes vary from trail runners to flip-flops to gold lame sandals.
Three miles up a steep five mile hike, two hours from sunset.
Rain is forecast.
God watches over fools and little children!Oct 28, 2010 at 7:31 pm #1659113
"God watches over fools and little children!"
If he happens to be in a good mood. ;-}Oct 28, 2010 at 7:32 pm #1659114
@butukiLocale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Hey Miguel! What about my perspective! You know, about getting old and all. Sheesh, I never get any credit……
Oh, but you do, Doug,… have a perspective. You're the one who provides laughter and a point of ridicule! ;-POct 28, 2010 at 7:52 pm #1659129
Dale is sadly right on his observations. Any trailhead on 90 is like that from May to Nov. The people who start hiking at 3 pm…as we are hiking out.Oct 28, 2010 at 8:05 pm #1659133
@davidlutzLocale: Bay Area
I'm not sure if this post is ok for this thread but reading the other posts makes me think about our trip last weekend and lessons learned.
We went hiking in the rain, why not, right? I'd never been out in bad weather and figured I would give it a go.
The rain forecast percentage increased daily before settling in at 90% for Saturday. It rained the whole time.
A few lessons learned:
1) If you know it's going to rain – study the creeks you cross on the way in and look for alternate crossings. If you don't see a way back over the creek in high water, don't cross. The water came up A LOT overnight and we were lucky to find crossings on the way out.
2) Don't get fixated on a trip and go even though it would be wiser to postpone.
3) Clean up and stowage after a rain trip is a major pain.
Seems obvious, but it's the obvious stuff that gets you sometimes…..Oct 28, 2010 at 8:08 pm #1659134
I swear there is this hiking group demographic that goes:
4 people in the party (what a typical car holds comfortably)
The leader is a skinny guy.
He has a Goth/pierced/tattooed girlfriend.
They are accompanied by two fat guys.
That or I keep seeing the same bunch and they are changing their hair color.Oct 28, 2010 at 8:12 pm #1659136
^ hey I've seen that group in Montana! :)Oct 28, 2010 at 11:44 pm #1659193
@pittsburghLocale: Bay Area
"True, but who are we to arm chair quarterback her? Seriously people! Heaven forbid one of us get lost, hurt or get over our heads….I am sure it is awful knowing strangers are discussing what they all think that happened.
Until it happens to us, we have no idea how we would react."
Tom expressed a response to this pretty well. I'll just also add a little Aristotle:
"The unexamined life is not worth living."
I think if you do find yourself in a situation like hers, I know for a fact that if I had prepared, learned from others mistakes and successes as well as my own, then my ability to survive will increase exponentially. Being able to retain life saving information, and then recall it when necessary is crucial. Studying how people died, the reasons they died, or even got themselves into a huge mess that could have led to death….wow, what a gift, even if it sounds morbid. To not learn from that would be foolish.
I don;t think anyone here was poking fun…but a good, solid debate and back and forth is healthy. At times it can seem like the person is being poked and prodded…but in the long run, if it saves a life, poke away.
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