Oct 25, 2012 at 12:06 pm #1295524
Posting this here just in case anyone has any info:
Last seen on the Taboose Pass trail heading into the mountains on Friday the 19th.Oct 25, 2012 at 12:29 pm #1924364
@retiredjerryLocale: Oregon and Washington
So people don't have to go read that link:
On Friday, Oct. 19, 2012, Larry started his hike at the Taboose Creek Trailhead in the Inyo National Forest with plans to travel over Taboose Pass toward the John Muir Trail in Kings Canyon National Park. His route may have included Split Mountain and areas to the south, including Pinchot Pass. He planned to be back on Monday, Oct. 22, 2012.Oct 25, 2012 at 1:23 pm #1924377
I have read that Larry is an experienced hiker. He is a long time member of the High Sierra Topic forum. There is more information at:
regarding the search. Here are a few photos just in case anyone has seen him.
And his tent:
Andy.Oct 31, 2012 at 12:39 am #1925541
Or word yet on this hiker? Given the experience, location and time of year, I expect a happy ending.Oct 31, 2012 at 6:26 am #1925570
No, as of last night, the man remains "missing". It's now been quite a while and there's weather involved. Not good, but there are those who apparently know him that feel he's got the smarts to last things out, if in able condition but immobile for some reason.Oct 31, 2012 at 10:09 am #1925617
@eagleriverdeeLocale: Eagle River, Alaska
I've been following the threads over at HST and it's heartbreaking. I hope they find Larry alive, but the odds at this point are not favorable. They posted up some of Larry's previous posts and he has stated he doesn't follow his own trip plans, he doesn't carry a SPOT, and he doesn't even own a compass or gps, and he didn't have a stove. He was known to carry adequate cold weather clothing and gear, and extra food.
I hope he's found alive, but if nothing else I hope people will consider how they approach their own solo adventures. It's possible something happened to Larry that no amount of safety gear would have helped with, but it's also possible that if he'd had navigation equipment or a SPOT or PLB that this ordeal would have been over days ago.Nov 12, 2012 at 12:18 am #1927737
3.5 weeks after he was last seen, Larry Conn has not returned.
There are some moving tributes to Larry, and some words about how much he was moved by the mountains, here:
…scroll down to the last two or three pages.
He leaves behind a partner and a 7-year-old son.
You will be in our thoughts for a long time to come, Larry.
– ElizabethNov 12, 2012 at 1:04 am #1927738
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Rumoured to be carrying no stove and no compass.
> He leaves behind a partner and a 7-year-old son.
And those he left behind now have to manage by themselves. They're the ones who are suffering now.
CheersNov 17, 2012 at 5:08 pm #1929278
This is so sad,
I would never venture out in the bush with no map, compass or GPS on a solo trek is not a wise dessicion to make, I take extra precautions when i am solo. I dont venture off track solo unless i know the area well. Choosing to keep to formed hiking trails on my solo treks. Off track with a group of mates.Nov 18, 2012 at 11:50 pm #1929553
It's just so worth it to carry a basic compass.
Mine is like 35g and is super small and from REI.
Most of the time you don't need it but when you do…
When we were in Yellowstone at about half way through our trip we basically ran out of trail. The map was 100% wrong.
We had to walk about 4 miles through a valley/swamp to the other side to re-orient our position and then find the trail emerging from the valley some three hours later.
Without a compass we would have had to turn back.Nov 19, 2012 at 7:24 am #1929590
I carry a compass, too.
However, the issue with this man isn't one of navigation: by all accounts, he was very familiar with the areas he backpacked into. The general consensus is that disaster befell him, such as a fall or "medical", rather than him becoming lost. Were he lost and needing orientation, the fellow had clearly established capability to hunker down and make himself known to rescuers that scoured the area.Nov 19, 2012 at 8:08 am #1929602
I agree. I have hiked extensively in this area and if he a map then a compass would likely only be needed in the event of a whiteout. I think we should be careful speculating on causes until there is a bit more data.Nov 30, 2012 at 5:30 pm #1932257
Jumped in late… I agree with what Greg wrote. Speculation that such and such piece of gear would have made the difference is just that — speculation. And given the turn of events — we can tone down the sarcasm too. "Cheers".Dec 4, 2012 at 11:13 am #1933019
I really hope they find him and everything works out.
The issue that keep me awake at night have more to do with a fall or health reasons while alone.
Most of the trail have enough traffic that if you are hurt you can just walk to the trail and someone will come by in a few days at most.
We need a better way to find trail partners – if for safety alone.
A broken leg can be very problematic when alone but if you have a partner can be far easier to recover from.Dec 4, 2012 at 11:59 am #1933026
@justin_bakerLocale: Santa Rosa, CA
Kevin, it has been like a month and a half.Dec 4, 2012 at 5:05 pm #1933136
"The issue that keep me awake at night have more to do with a fall or health reasons while alone."
The cold hard truth, Kevin, is that every once in a while an incident like this occurs and, while terribly sad, it does serve to clarify the risks inherent in solo hiking. I feel for his family and friends, and am sad for him, but also see it as an object lesson for those who contemplate soloing but may not have thought thru the potential consequences. Anyone who does so should do it with their eyes wide open.Dec 4, 2012 at 5:38 pm #1933144
@artemisLocale: Great Plains
I think it's important to remember, too, that we have no way of knowing whether having a hiking partner would have helped in this case. If you're way out in the backcountry and have a massive MI, all your hiking partner is going to be able to do is to watch you die – there's just no way for medical help to arrive in time, even if you're carrying a PLB or a satellite phone.
Maybe hiking solo proved a fatal mistake in this case – or may be not. Maybe it was just Larry Conn's time to go. Until/unless his body is found and a cause of death can be accurately determined, we just don't know.Dec 4, 2012 at 8:01 pm #1933187
" think it's important to remember, too, that we have no way of knowing whether having a hiking partner would have helped in this case. If you're way out in the backcountry and have a massive MI, all your hiking partner is going to be able to do is to watch you die – there's just no way for medical help to arrive in time, even if you're carrying a PLB or a satellite phone."
True enough, but it sure would have saved SAR a lot of time, expense, and personal risk.Dec 4, 2012 at 8:42 pm #1933198
Reading some of the posts about the riskiness of hiking solo…
I think we can all think of scenarios where a twosome could have saved the day (versus handling a situation solo). But then, some might argue that a threesome or a quartet could handle difficult situations even better! And then, there are those who think hiking out in the wilds in the middle of winter is just plain insane!
Where do we draw the line? IMHO, extremes aside, there really is no single line. We all have to weigh the costs against the benefits and against our own experiences (of course).
Bottom line, each to his or her own. More preparedness. Less idle speculation.Dec 5, 2012 at 12:55 pm #1933344
I think it is well to consider, in the light of this unfortunate occurrence, the two different kinds of risk that accompany solo travel. The first is risks that you, the traveler, accept for yourself. You decide that the added risk to life and limb that traveling alone in the wilds presents is worth it to you in order to have the experience that it provides. I might add that this is not a simple equation – solo=more risk. A person might be safer traveling solo in some situations compared to traveling with companions who they are responsible for and who does not have their level of experience or competence.But generally, solo is riskier.
The second is the risks that you ask others to accept for you. The worry and perhaps grief that your injury or death may bring to family and friends; and the risks that will be taken by those who search for you. It is these secondary risks that I find the most troubling in my own considerations of going alone. If I were still single and childless, and could be assured that if I was lost no one would come looking for me and risk their own safety to do it, then I could feel that it was all my risk. But Since I am married and have kids and since I know that I will be searched for even if I tried to arrange that I would not be, I feel differently.
These secondary risks have led me to decide that I have an obligation to those at home and those who would come looking to carry a PLB, for their sake. I realize thee are situations where it wouldn't matter – if I fall and die it won't matter what I am carrying – so it's not perfect but there it is.
Everyone has to consider the risks and decide what they want to do. I just think it's important to be aware of the risks that you take for others as well as those you take for yourself.Dec 5, 2012 at 1:29 pm #1933353
Agree — although I would add the the two risks are present any time we hike out in the wilds — regardless of group size. We are talking different degrees of risks — but given that both we and our loved ones and the people who might later get "sucked in and affected" all have different viewpoints and risk tolerance — who draws the line?
Some people may feel comfortable drawing the line at two. Others might think four is the minimum. You see, there is so much subjectivity here. Hard etching the line between one and two (or wherever) is, IMHO, arbitrary and not necessarily correct in all the circumstances.
Anyway, my spew. Aside from the extremes of recklessness, I don't think there really is a single answer as to whether hiking solo is safe / responsible — or not.Dec 5, 2012 at 5:08 pm #1933415
@hikinggrannyLocale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
I agree with Roger and Paul that having family/dependents back home should mean less risk-taking while this status lasts. It's an issue of responsibility. Children do grow up, so the status of parent doesn't last forever.
Although I carry a PLB, it's simply a psychological weight saving that gets friends and relations off my back! I don't let it affect my behavior one way or another. When I take one of my grandkids out, the PLB of course becomes a lot more important, although fortunately I've never had to use it. On the other hand, I know that if I do have even a relatively minor accident at my age, it will probably end my backpacking career. That's why I'm careful when going over dicey terrain. For this old lady, pushing to keep up with a group involves far more risk of injury than hiking solo at my own pace.
If it's my time to go out there, fine–it will happen one way or another any time now. If you find me unconscious along the trail, don't bother trying to resuscitate, but please take good care of my beloved dog!Dec 5, 2012 at 6:10 pm #1933433
"I think it is well to consider, in the light of this unfortunate occurrence, the two different kinds of risk that accompany solo travel…."
+1 With one minor qualification: "But generally, solo is riskier."
I'm not convinced hiking solo, in and of itself, is riskier, but the consequences of a mishap are potentially much more severe. In the event you are incapacitated, you simply have no backup, even if you are carrying a PLB, a good first aid kit, have the knowledge to use both, and are in a location where a PLB can transmit/receive. Hiking with one or more partners greatly reduces the chance of being unable to either self rescue or summon help, not to mention stabilize a severely injured hiker. What Paul said in his post is well worth thinking thru very carefully before deciding to hike solo. If the decision is still to do so, at least carry a PLB and a good first aid kit, know how to use them, leave your intended route with a responsible person, and stick to that route. My 2 cents.Dec 5, 2012 at 9:34 pm #1933486
Ben – there is one big difference between solo and any other size group, and that is that if one is solo and something happens, no one knows where you are unless you have some sort of communication or signalling device. If there are 2 or more of you, one can go for help or build signal fires or otherwise try to attract the attention of searchers. I think this is a very big difference, and it particularly affects those who come looking for you. The difference between a search and a rescue is immense. Having followed the search for Larry Conn fairly closely on HighSierraTopix forums, I was amazed at how many people and how much resources were involved. If a location had been known, one helicopter flight and it's done.
If you are on well-travelled trails in the prime season, this is much less of an issue than if you are off-trail or off-season. So each outing has its different set of considerations.
For me, the critical issue is that I do not want anyone risking their life or health or even wasting their time trying to find me if I have chosen to go off in the mountains on my own and I have gotten in trouble. That is not to say I would not go solo – but if I do go solo, and off-trail or off-season, I will carry a PLB. In some situations, I'll carry the PLB even if not solo. When I skied across the Sierra with a partner, I carried it, since we would be way out there and the chances of anyone finding us in time or of one of us getting out in time to get help in an emergency was essentially nil after the first day or two.
Everyone has to make their own decision about solo wilderness travel. I just wanted to bring up the idea that your decision will affect others as well as yourself, so take that into consideration.Dec 5, 2012 at 10:26 pm #1933494
My posts were thoughts that came to me after reading Tom's posts.
Objectively, group hiking ought to be safer and better in dealing with mishaps than solo hiking — assuming comparable hiker experience and all.
But subjectively, safer may still not be safe enough. We ALL have different risk tolerance levels. I, for example, think solo hiking is a safe and responsible enough thing to do for certain hikers. Tom, OTOH, believes solo hiking is not safe enough. But hiking in a group is OK. But you know, there are plenty of people who believe hiking up in the wilds in the middle of winter is just crazy unsafe and totally irresponsible, no matter how large the group. Well, who's right?
There is no objectively correct answer to this — simply because we all have different risk tolerance levels. What's reasonable to one may be quite radical to another. So it goes right back to HYOH.
Tom is right to warn everyone to be careful. But I think it is 'wrong' to warn against the entire concept of solo hiking as unsafe. Just as I believe it is 'wrong' if someone else were to warn against the entire concept of winter hiking as unsafe. Because it goes right back to 'unsafe for whom'? Who gets to define what's unsafe vs. safe enough?
But one thing we all agree on is what you wrote in your last paragraph: "Everyone has to make their own decision about solo wilderness travel. I just wanted to bring up the idea that your decision will affect others as well as yourself, so take that into consideration".
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