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Zeta Male

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  1. Folks, Some of may remember an accident occurring on Mt. Hood in December, 2006 involving three climbers who flew in from Dallas and New York City to climb Mt. Hood out of Cooper Spur over the weekend. Only one of their bodies has ever been found. Having followed the search in here I've wanted to follow up on what went wrong. Some posts in the discussion in here assured those interested that the accident would be covered in full in the AAC's "Accidents in North American Mountaineering". I've not seen the 2007 edition of that book and it isn't perusable on-line. Have you seen the write-up of the noted accident in the 2007 edition? Does the write-up go into much detail - how many pages does it cover? I've searched the forums here for references to the write-up; I haven't found anything - is that a consequence of my search skills or was there no post-write-up discussion in here? EP Oregon and Texas
  2. "Accidents in North American Mountaineering 2007"

    I know this - that's why I started this thread here instead of at some other web-site. I didn't bring up the "armchair climber" phrase to denigrate such contributors; I said it in response to someone who was critical of the usefulness of their commentary.
  3. "Accidents in North American Mountaineering 2007"

    Because, using your own time frame as a reference, the ANAM report wasn't out yet "over two years ago" - they're not published until August of the calendar year following the accident, which would put the discussions you refer to as having occurred in mid-May, 2007 at the latest. The accident was in December, 2006. Furthermore, one of the most succinct commenters in this thread said that even he had not seen the final ANAM report much less discussed its particulars, so I thought it worthwhile to start the discussion - of that report, not the 70+ pages of time-of-the-accident forum commentary: that contains a whole lotta chaff (kinda the problem with the internet in general). The purpose of this thread was to follow up on the ANAM report and have an informed discussion about its (presumed to be most authoritative) particulars and conclusions. I understand that there was a lot of discussion (as well as a lot of other less salient commentary hopelessly intertwined over 70+ pages) generated at this web-site at the time of the accident and subsequent body search; I came hear looking for a discussion of the more authoritative final ANAM accident report. Having found that report and referenced it early in this thread, I looked forward to obtaining informed commentary from experienced climbers on it so that less-experienced climbers can learn from it, especially since the sequence of events resulting in fatalities sometimes begins in the planning and research stages (or lack thereof). I've found some of what I was looking for but there's always room for more. Of course, those who operate climbing-dependent businesses might get irritated with people continuing to discuss things that tend to put a damper on their income, but I don't give a rat's ass about that. See, the thing about internet forums is, is if you're tired of a topic you can just move on to something that interests you more or is a better expenditure of your time (assuming there is such a thing), without becoming exasperated as to why people who want to discuss something continue to do so. In the end it's all just a bunch of photons emanating from a computer screen - those that don't interest you won't hurt or otherwise affect you and don't require any of your time. I was hoping to go through the ANAM report and number the paragraphs or each line of the report for reference purposes, post it in here and then identify (by paragraph or line no.) things the climbers should have handled differently, with the expectation of generating concurring or dissenting responses but I'm not sure when I'll get around to doing that. I'm also curious as to what any Hood County Sheriff's report had to say about accident - I'm not sure if I'll be able to get a hold of that. I think what this web-site needs is a permanent catalog, by date and location, of accidents resulting in fatalities or hospital stays of overnight or longer duration, a link to the resulting ANAM report and any additonal authoritative reports, and an opportunity for the informed commentary on each accident generated from that to be maintained. The at-time-of-the-accident-generated commentary, at least in highly-publicized cases like this one, tends to contain too much hearsay, hypothesis and melodrama for subsequent benefit.
  4. "Accidents in North American Mountaineering 2007"

    Just popping in for a moment. I don't know how this thread'll ever make 50+ pages without more attempts at comedy and related exhibitions of one's Photoshop skills. What an achievement that will be. I didn't start the thread as a critique of the climbing abilities of the the deceased nor as a commentary on their common sense nor on the inadequacies of anyone reading this who has made similar mistakes. I started it is a place where knowledgeable climbers and other outdoor explorers could leave a record of their impressions of any obvious mistakes made by the party in question so that less-experienced climbers could learn from them and hopefully develop habits that will lead to their avoiding repeating those mistakes. Again, I'm not sure how useful re-visiting the 70+ pages of hypothesis/speculation and "Our prayers are with the climbers and their families" remarks generated at the time of the accident is; I'd like to focus on the revised edition of the accident report submitted to ANAM (noted on page 1 of this thread), which doesn't appear to have been done before at this web-site. I don't think we have to worry about offending friends of the deceased anymore in here given the passage of time, so critical comments about the climbers' progression and decision-making aren't inappropriate. I'd also like to avoid insensitive, blanket condemnations of their performance give that mountains and their weather can be terribly, unreasonably unforgiving of the same kind of foolishness that in ordinary daily life results in little more than a mildly amusing story over a round of beers among one's friends at the brewpub. In other words, declaring "This bunch of climbers were just a bunch of idiots - they weren't Northwesterners so what do you expect? What more is there to discuss?" isn't very useful to the project at hand. I realize the armchair climbers participating in this thread aren't faced with the physical conditions the climbers faced, but that's an advantage of such an exercise as the one attempted by starting this thread - the climbers' decision-making can be discussed and deliberated in calm circumstances without the overwhelming obfuscation of the deteriorated elements, in the hope that any lessons learned herein will be retained in times of difficulty. So, can we please try to keep the wankage in here to a minimum? Accordingly, again I am much appreciative of the weather links and related discussion herein in particular; those, along with helpful advice for interpreting them properly, would seem to be good candidates for permanent preservation in a prominent place somewhere on this web-site (the high- and low-temperature info one gets when one clicks on "Weather" under "Articles and Resources" isn't real impressive).
  5. "Accidents in North American Mountaineering 2007"

    Thanks for the weather ref's. Not sure how to read the Jet Stream view in light of the multi-colored bar along the bottom but I guess I'll figure it out. This should be of even more use to me when I begin surfing.
  6. "Accidents in North American Mountaineering 2007"

    Point noted. But I have to say my "formal" climbing training didn't cover that much. I pay attention to that stuff mostly because of my pilot's training. Pity the climbers who aren't attuned to interpreting big-picture, regional weather forecasts. It seems the need to be down the mountain or at least sheltered BEFORE the storm hits can't be emphasized enough. But you experienced climbers: would you be critical of these guys if they'd brought snow-camping gear with them to the summit and planned to just hunker down and ride out any storms in a proper snow cave (given that they were supposedly training for grander expeditions)? It seems to me that climbers can read a lot of stuff from disparate sources, and have success on difficult climbs, and then come to the conclusion that they're experts and they know what they're doing when they're really not and they really don't - they're just lucky that nothing unforeseen came up. Unfortunately there doesn't seem to be any formal dividing line in climbing between those who know what they're doing and those who don't.
  7. "Accidents in North American Mountaineering 2007"

    Well, I'm somewhat embarrassed to admit I was one of the contributors to that. There's a lot of speculation and rabbit holes in there. Don't you think the more-informed accident report is the best place to start analyzing and discussing this since, lacking much response to that aspect of my original query, that apparently hasn't been done yet? I do owe you applause for the succinctness of your analysis earlier - from my perspective it seems you hit the salient points right on the head.
  8. "Accidents in North American Mountaineering 2007"

    Well, actually that's kind of the odd thing here: there were at least two cell phones among the party (how that's known, I'm not sure, but that's what the accident report says) but aside from the well-known call from the then-alone guy in the snow-cave, nobody was calling their loved ones - they didn't seem to think that their goose was cooked yet. As for the overall gist of your comment, I'm having a hard time accepting that these people became marooned when all that stood between them and safety after their summit was to simply stick with the original plan and descend the south-side route - storm or no storm. I just don't get why they abandoned that well-known-to-be-easiest route in favor of a treacherous reversal of their ascent. Why did the uninjured but perhaps sick guy in the snow cave just lay there rather than attempt a south-side descent? I just don't get it. Even when he made his last telephone call he didn't request a rescue. As for, "If you want to get into the heads of the deceased climbers....", that's not so much my interest. I want to get inside the heads of live, experienced climbers - using this accident report as a starting point - to know how they would have avoided what ended up in the same tragedy in the classical sense (i.e. ending up in a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't situation) as these guys did. I'm not an author; I'm not on my own ghoulish expedition. I just want to be sure I survive my climbing experiences. It was alleged early on that these guys were not idiots, and that they've climbed some significant mountains that I haven't, so it's not impossible that, on my journey from less-experienced to more-experienced climber, I could be faced with many of the choices these guys faced. I'd like to get clear on what those choices were and what the better selections would have been.
  9. "Accidents in North American Mountaineering 2007"

    Does anyone out there car to comment from experience on the wisdom of the December, 2006 party's apparent decision to either a) go back down the way they'd come up or b) hunker down and and wait out the storm while lacking the gear to do so properly, rather than c) proceed with the original plan and descend the south side to Timberline? Keep in mind that none of the three were familiar with the mountain or its summit, so what might seem like child's play to an old hand may have proven severely daunting to a party that hadn't previously been tasked with finding their way down the south side in the dark/whiteout conditions (which of course only makes more difficult to understand their choice to remain on the mountain while such conditions were arriving). Still, should the stretch from the summit, down through The Pearly Gates, over and down The Bergschrund (which probably wasn't its usual gaping self at that time of year) and along and down The Hogsback proven all that daunting? Even if they'd fallen in The Pearly Gates (in my mind the most treacherous part of the descent), would that be all that much of a problem - wouldn't the worst outcome from that probably be landing in the soft snow of The Hogsback? And shouldn't "fast and light" include them carrying a snow shovel, a stove and fuel, and bivy-sacks for all of them? And what about the foam pad that was found at the "belay point" - where the descent rigging was found (with broken ropes) away from the "snow cave" (how good of a snow cave could it have been if they lacked a snow shovel?) - is a foam pad really all that important for him/them rigging the descent gear? Wouldn't the guy in the snow cave have a more important claim on that (I say "Clearly, yes" while understanding that where the foam pad was found may not have been part of any rational choice/decision/discussion, and understanding that in the end, given how long the mountain was socked in, I don't think it made any difference)? I want to know what experienced climbers have to say about all this - what would you have done if thinking rationally at that point, faced with deteriorating weather, and possibly dealing with the realization that you'd profoundly f'ed up already?
  10. "Accidents in North American Mountaineering 2007"

    Understood - thank you the guidance, Ivan.
  11. "Accidents in North American Mountaineering 2007"

    "[T]oo large [of] a group" (per Ivan)? Why would that be cited? There were only three people in the climbing party.
  12. "Accidents in North American Mountaineering 2007"

    Actually, Mkporwit, you may wanna hold off on the scanning since I may have found something better here: http://traditionalmountaineering.org/Report_MtHood_NorthFace_Winter.htm#more - a revised version of the report by one Jeff Sheets published in ANAM. After skimming it, I find the episode to still be a mystery: - why the climber that was found in the snow-cave was left there uninjured (except for possible hypothermia or some such) without the ability to survive in it for very long (I know they left most of their gear at base camp, but why didn't he at least have the foam pad that was found at the belay point from which the other two climbers disappeared?). Like the published post-mortem says, perhaps all three of them tried to go back the way they came, two of them were swept away and the one whose body was found became distraught and retreated to the snow-cave, but it also seems possible that he developed a serious disagreement with the other two about how best to proceed once the storm set in, so they left without him while he chose to wait out the storm and then continue with plan A. - why did such experienced climbers attempt such a perilous route on a fast-and-light basis with such little apparent margin for error, given that they were unfamiliar with the route and a severe storm was known to be approaching? I don't really have a problem with them attempting the climb at the time of year they did, nor with the fast-and-lite basis under which they proceeded, but I don't understand why they didn't allow for the possibility that something might go seriously wrong and consume a serious amount of time, and allow and prepare for that i.e. take up the mountain the gear that would allow them to at least survive for a spell in a snow cave, and go no farther without that gear than they could be virtually certain of getting back to in daylight. - why didn't they consider the possibility of encountering white-out conditions and accordingly have a topo map of the summit with the descent route(s) pre-plotted and compass bearings identified that would get them started (and finished, for that matter) on their planned descent to Timberline (or at least to the top of the Palmer lift)? What planning they did for their climb seems to have been lacking in rigor. It seems to me that they didn't really consider and allow for the possibility that plan A (descending to Timberline) would become non-viable, and they didn't really appreciate how non-viable plan B (going back the way they came) would be under those same conditions once they were SOL with plan A. So, in the end they were just SOL given their abilities and what little else they'd brought with them to the summit. I'm just not convinced that plan B was ever preferable to plan A under the circumstances. To me this episode speaks strongly about how people with considerable technical knowledge can become overconfident and lack the wisdom and judgement needed for the task at hand. While hindsight and a little experience with this particular mountain - both of which the climbing party at hand were lacking - make all the difference, who's gonna take care of their kids now? For me, what I take from this is: give serious consideration to the question, "What's the worst that could happen?" and prepare accordingly, and forget the "Jet in, attempt a difficult climb of an unfamiliar mountain without a guide, and jet out on a tight schedule" approach. When attempting an unfamiliar, difficult route on a tight schedule, hire a local guide first (remember the whole "trying to find a climbing map" at the beginning of all this?). Multiply the aforesaid by a factor of two for each dependent child each member of the climbing party has.
  13. MT Hood Continued

    temper? you think i am mad??? you dont have to be physically able to climb to get there. there have been MANY differently abeled climbers. from blind to quadrapaligic. don't give me any bull shit about not being able to climb. if there is a will there is a way. you just have to be courageous and determined enough to find it. if you are in jail, start training now and you will be hella strong when you get out. This is thoroughly asinine. I'm outta here.
  14. MT Hood Continued

    Only to some of the naive masses; not to the wise and experienced.
  15. MT Hood Continued

    Horseshit. It's nothing more than indulgence. You contradict yourself: you first claim that we climb (and do everything else) for ourselves, then you claim climbing is "heroic". Doing something purely for yourself is in no way heroic, particularly when it utterly disregards the needs and reasonable expectations of others.
  16. MT Hood Continued

    You're comparing recreational moutaineers (excuse me - "climbers") to soldiers? You're an incredible piece of work.
  17. MT Hood Continued

    Wow. Serious wow.
  18. MT Hood Continued

    With apologies to the often-cranky old hands frequenting this forum: I know this is a newbie topic but there are many such visiting here lately; if you don't like my post, correct it or ignore it. Well the peak has snow on it year-round but it's probably minimized by about the beginning of August; little new snow falls after May. But unpleasant storms can set in there even in the summer, even if they just bear rain and not snow. Organized group climbing of the south side starts in early April and is usually over by early June on account of the rock-fall potential thereafter. It can start snowing up there again by the middle of October. Hell, it can snow up there even in June, but never much. Even on a summer day, while it can be sunny and 80 on top, it can also be in the 40's with a stiff wind, and clouds can roll in and obscure the entire upper portion of the mountain then too: not much fun. Even on a dry summer day a stiff wind can kick up a "grit storm" on top leading to a less-than-enjoyable experience. So I do understand the appeal of winter climbing - that's kind of why I'm in this forum. So, for your first trip up there I recommend going with a guide of some sort at a minimum, and you really want to at least have some self-arrest training beforehand. I don't recommend you do a solo climb like I did on my first summit. I'm told there are plenty of FRIENDLY old hands willing to assist you that the Forest Service - who supervises Mt. Hood - can put you in touch with. There's a poster in here, "finger of fate", whom I bet would be glad to help you: he used to be the FS's climbing ranger for Mt. Hood. You can hurt yourself and others up there even in the summer if you don't know something about what you're doing, and no one ever really knows it all, regardless of the impression they try to give.
  19. If you are primarily looking at cell for backcountry saftey it is not so good. As I mentioned before there are some solutions that are on the boards. Some of which I am involved in but still preproduction so not much info to share. Even if these come to pass it will be one more piece of gear to carry just in case. Give it a while and maybe it will be worth rethinking FWIW former Cellular One magnate Craig McCaw has a new venture afoot to launch a combined cellular/sat-phone network; won't be available before 2008 though.
  20. MT Hood Continued

    These folks have been doing SAR missions on Hood for who knows how long. I trust that they are considering all possibilities and are distributing resources the best they can. Every operational detail of who did what and when and where is generally not released to the public (and probably exists in a disarray of paperwork and notes and maps and computer files right now). If it's trees down there, you're not going to see any people from the air. OK. It's good to hear your insight.
  21. MT Hood Continued

    Was my understanding too, Gary according to what I read on KATU: "Normally, a provider uses the three closest towers to triangulate an area where a person may be located. However, James' phone was at the periphery of cell phone coverage area and registered to only one tower. But based on the region of the tower that it hit, T-Mobile was able to narrow down the possible location: just below the 11,239-foot summit of Mount Hood, on the northeast side." http://www.katu.com/news/local/4908701.html Very impressive.
  22. MT Hood Continued

    Thanks for the useful post. Guess I'll hang on to my current dual-mode phone, even if it is about four years old now and a little beat up (but lacking GPS): there were a number of posts in the previous thread about how analog reception is more widespread than digital, especially in remote areas and particularly on Mt. Hood.
  23. MT Hood Continued

    Post deleted by Zeta Male
  24. MT Hood Continued

    Pinging or making a routine call does not give accurate location info to the Telco. At worst it says you are 'near' some tower. A 911 call transmits the GPS info and they know where you are usually withing +/- 2 meters. Will an analog transmission send GPS info?
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