Sep 16, 2011 at 11:14 am #1279426
hikers rescued from the same area/hike that hiker with minimal gear was never found … they triggered a PLB
looks like a serious hike … the question is what gear would you bring and how much extra margin of error for food and fuel … and a spot/plb?
or would you even try it without a spot/plb?
Fools Gold tricks three hikers near Coquitlam
Three experienced hikers who were trapped between swollen creeks on a notoriously difficult mountain route were helicoptered to safety Tuesday afternoon.
“Don’t do the Fools Gold route,” Mark White, 29, told a waiting crowd gathered in a parking lot on the south end of Pitt Lake near Coquitlam after he emerged from the chopper.
White and his friends Cory Richardson, 25, and Mark Coleman, 23, set out from Squamish on Friday prepared to slog their way through the unforgiving terrain almost exactly a year after 35-year-old Tyler Wright died trying to make the same trek alone. Despite an extensive search, his body has never been found.
“Everything was going well for a solid bushwack,” White said. “It was moving along until we got to a creek called Disc Creek. It was far too swollen because there was too much snowpack this year. We spent half a day going up and down the creek trying to find a place to cross. We weren’t able to do that so we camped the night.”
Overnight, it began to pour. On Monday morning, the group decided to check the creek one more time, but after realizing it would be impossible to cross, they began to backtrack.
“All the creeks we passed before had become so swollen we weren’t able to go out the way we came in,” White said.
That’s when they decided to activate a locator beacon that notified the Department of National Defense they were in trouble. The DND then let local search and rescue teams know where they were.
Coquitlam Search and Rescue members praised the men for being prepared and said the technology meant rescuers cut down on the time and resources needed to locate them.
“These guys did everything they could possibly do,” said Rollie Webb, a team leader with SAR. “They left a trip plan and took an alerting device. They had a great itinerary set out. The one thing that didn’t cooperate was the weather.”
After waiting out the clouds that prevented the helicopter from flying, the team found the group, who set off several flares upon spotting the chopper, pulled them up one-by-one and took them to a nearby beach. When all three were plucked from the route, they loaded into the chopper and flew to waiting friends and family.
“I’d like to thank everybody involved,” said Linda Coleman, Mark’s mother. “They’ve done a phenomenal job. It’s such a wonderful outcome. It’s better than Christmas.”Sep 16, 2011 at 2:23 pm #1780157
“These guys did everything they could possibly do,” said Rollie Webb.
Other than checking the weather ahead of time (and perhaps taking a different route) and/or bringing the appropriate shelter/food (and deadbird/patagucci raingear!) to be able to safely wait out the higher water levels if they occurred.Sep 16, 2011 at 2:55 pm #1780166
There are obvious cases like this where the people were just ill-prepared, naive, or just morons, and they got into trouble that resulted in rescuing.
Sometimes though, things happen. Going out into the wilderness, especially bushwhacking, has its inherent risks, and occasionally the weather/unforeseen events do not cooperate with plans. We all are (mostly) aware of the risks and that something, at any time, may happen. But we all go out anyways.
I think this group just got a bad roll of the dice. I didn't see anywhere that they did not have food, shelter, and rain gear. One report said this of the hikers:
"They had a very detailed trip plan, they had purchased a PLB, and they were well equipped for the route. Ultimately by having the ten essentials and more, they ensured their speedy rescue. Having flares can be very advantageous when things go wrong."Sep 16, 2011 at 3:22 pm #1780170
Watch the complete video of them getting rescued and decide for yourselves:
http://youtu.be/_s3s-MW0L_gSep 16, 2011 at 5:37 pm #1780221
"I didn't see anywhere that they did not have food, shelter, and rain gear."
To clarify, I didn't say they didn't have these items… I wondered if based on the weather, the trip plan, etc. perhaps they didn't bring what was required (i.e. enough) to extract themselves from the situation (e.g. hunker down until water levels recede).
Yes, they probably aren't as naive or stupid or whatever as other folks who have needed rescuing in the past, but I suppose my point is that they could of had some more personal responsibility of some more weather research, more cognizance about what a day or two of rain might mean to those creeks they crossed earlier in the trip (i.e. they have more water in them), or more provisions/gear/desire to actually extract themselves from the situation (i.e. wait out the high water). The PLB can be used as a replacement for better planning, provisioning, or more personal responsibility, of course… if anything goes wrong, we'll just call for a helicopter!
That said, we all have gotten into funky situations from time to time. And I'm sure the SAR folks would rather have them pull the PLB, get a pretty good location, and get them out of there.Sep 17, 2011 at 1:28 am #1780293
>The PLB can be used as a replacement for better planning, provisioning, or more personal responsibility, of course… if anything goes wrong, we'll just call for a helicopter!
Yes! We can just hit a button and be rescued! To Hell with planning. Your point is well made that any rescue beacon should not become a pacifier for the dumb, and that people should really think twice about their itinerary. Too often technology is viewed as a replacement for human cognition.Sep 17, 2011 at 6:40 am #1780313
I'm not trying to imply this article apllies to this particular situation in any way.
It just shows how PLBs can be misused and create a lot of problems and unnecessary risks for others.Sep 17, 2011 at 7:37 am #1780329
@daviddrakeLocale: North Idaho
I hesitate to second-guess the SAR guy who was on the ground, knows the terrain and weather patterns and actually did the rescue. I expect SAR is pretty good at letting us know when they think a rescue was the result of poor planning and inexperience. They went out of their way to say that wasn't the case here.
These guys were doing a tough off-trail hike, through an area where they *knew* another hiker had been killed. Some areas have less predictable weather patterns than others.Sep 17, 2011 at 7:48 am #1780334
2 things to note
1. They brought flares, which most people here wouldnt, also a plb whih again many here might not have … Maybe some trails (they say its more a bushwhack) are not meant to be sul/ul …. If and when things go wrong, which is at least twice on this trail in the past 2 years considering how rarely done it is, you do want a margin
2. If they hadnt pulled the plb, even assuming they had extra food, and tried to wait it out … A more costly sar search would have been triggered anyways when they were late, especially considering the fatality last year. …. Last years operation was the most expensive in bc history … Triggering the plb reduce the time, cost, and risk to rescuersSep 17, 2011 at 9:21 am #1780349
@daviddrakeLocale: North Idaho
Good points, Eric–esp. that last one. I don't hike with a PLB, but always leave an itinerary. I would expect SAR to be called if I'm significantly late (say, 12-24 hours). Otherwise, what's the point of telling someone where you'll be/when you'll be back? I'm thinking about doing an extended solo hike next year through pretty isolated territory, and am strongly considering a PLB or Spot. For me, the embarrassment of being rescued (even if necessary) is plenty incentive to make sure I'm not pulling the PLB on a whim. I expect the same is true of most (if not all) experienced hikers.
As I said, I find it hard to argue with the SAR guys who took the time and risk to do this rescue.Sep 17, 2011 at 9:25 am #1780351
@hknewmanLocale: Western US
If doing something fairly extreme, such as winter hiking/backcountry snowsports in the high Rockies, yes. Along the trail in the summertime, no.Sep 17, 2011 at 9:49 am #1780357
From what I've read, there are creek crossings in that area that are often marginal. Obviously marginal creek crossings can become nearly impassible after hard rains. As others have pointed out, good prior planning including checking the weather would likely have prevented them being stuck between high creeks.
If good planning had included the likely necessity of waiting out high waters, their return time could have been adjusted. A sat phone or a SPOT device with an "OK" button might have prevented the need to call for rescue.
What would have happened had there been no such thing as PLBs or SAR? Based on what happened to them so far, they would have had to sit there, bored in the rain, until the creek went down, or they built a makeshift bridge or they found an alternate route so they could walk out under their own power.
It seems to me they did a great job at being ready to be rescued, with PLBs and flares, but failed to sufficiently plan to avoid the need for a rescue in the first place.
We all make mistakes, but after-action reviews are important to prevent future injuries or unnecessary rescues.Sep 17, 2011 at 7:50 pm #1780457
"If they hadnt pulled the plb, even assuming they had extra food, and tried to wait it out … A more costly sar search would have been triggered anyways when they were late, especially considering the fatality last year. …. Last years operation was the most expensive in bc history … Triggering the plb reduce the time, cost, and risk to rescuers"
+1 to Buck's comment on the SPOT OK function. I realize that PLBs are supposed to be more reliable but the SPOT OK function is a big reason why I carry it instead. I go solo most of the time. My wife knows that as long as I'm sending those, even if I'm days late, not to call SAR. And that in the designated trip window, not getting an OK means nothing. I provide a detailed itinerary before I leave including a map of where I'm going and possible other options. I like being able to change my mind when I'm out. If I do, I send a series of signals indicating the change of direction. In my case, I think the SPOT is more likely to prevent a search than cause one.
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