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About mattyj

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  • Birthday 02/20/1980
  1. Vantage accident 3/18/12

    Not to drift off topic, but I know an older guy who probably has more years climbing experience than I've been alive who does the exact same thing. I'd rather have an autoblock off the leg loop, and I don't think you can combine an autoblock with running the rope between the legs (only prusiks above the belay device, which I don't like as much)? At any rate, I'd never heard of anyone else advocating the rope-between-legs-to-dulfersitz approach, and I'm actually a little surprised to hear it's worked in the field.
  2. In case this was directed at me, I understand completely . . . merely meant to say that you guys, as a 501c3 with a very small geographic target, have your work cut out for you when it comes to fundraising. Even though that sounds like an absolute bargain for a helicopter program, it's not bake sale cash.
  3. Geez . . . speaking from my own experience, $50k/year is a lot of cash for a volunteer SAR team. Serious question - in WA, are air resources really that hard to come by? In CA, all the CHP helicopters have a paramedic onboard and are winch / short-haul capable. Getting them via mutual aid is real quick; there are a also a handful of counties with their own helicopter programs and I think the state fire agency has winch-capable helos as well. Air guard gets called out for larger searches, but I've never seen them used as a first-line response when an injured party calls 911. You'd certainly never see a volunteer on the bottom end of a short-haul; too many paid resources available already. Edit to add: credit to your sheriff for giving you the green light if you can raise the funds. A lot of people would look at the risks involved and just say no.
  4. Gadd on communication devices

    If you're down in a canyon and can't see a repeater, your radio is probably going to be useless at reaching anyone else on the ground. I've been in areas where a whistle blast practically went farther a 5W ham radio due to terrain. Aircraft are a different story, but you'd have to know what frequencies the pilots are listening on and a stock ham radio probably won't do the trick unless it's able to broadcast outside the ham bands - some are, most aren't.
  5. new source for online topo maps

    Right now, the only good options I know of are the nrcan and mytopo layers that ryan mentioned. IMO, with the ak/canada and arcgisworld layers he's pulling in, you're better off using Google Terrain. Nrcan is vector and mytopo is scanned raster files with nasty watermarks. I'm currently working on a layer based on the USGS' "US Topo" aerial-background maps, and expanding the scanned usgs layer to canada is next on the list. I've only looked into it briefly, and I don't know if they have the resolution to support the same sort of quality the US layer has. I also haven't compared the scanned paper maps to the nrcan vector ones; I know in the US, there's a lot that hasn't made it into the usgs vector database yet.
  6. Gadd on communication devices

    From what I understand, also more reliable, less likely to break in the field and better performance in the bottom of a canyon or through trees or whatnot. IMO, buying a spot primarily for the 911 feature is silly - $1k to leave it in a drawer or the bottom of your pack for 10 years, when with a PLB you'd just have to swap the battery once. It's important to remember that all these communication methods have drawbacks. I often go in places were a cell phone is useless; I bring a 2m radio that can also (legally) transmit on the 155 public safety bands - but the signal only goes so far, and even if it reaches Joe Deputy, unless he's monitoring the law enforcement mutual aid channels, I'm just huffing and puffing. I've used a set phone in meadows and clearings and it's bad enough; break your leg at the bottom of a ravine it may as well be a paperweight. Same with the SPOT beacon - although if you have track logging enabled, you can at least get a feel for where it works and where it doesn't. A PLB is supposedly better than a SPOT, but you can't actually test it - so you'll never know how it works in dense terrain, and if you drop it, you can never be sure if you actually damaged it. I think it's inevitable that these devices cause us to alter our risk assessment when we're in the field. That's not good or bad, it just is - and I'm guilty of it too. Pushing the envelope more because you expect them to work, and then finding out that they don't, can put you in a real bad situation.
  7. new source for online topo maps

    AK: In Sept/Oct, when the USGS finishes their new high-res map scans for that area.
  8. new source for online topo maps

    Read my last post on the previous page (especially the bottom part). Also, it should be visible on the bottom right of your screen (unless you've collapsed that info bar, in which case you'll see a <- arrow). If it's not, let me know what browser you're using and I'll take a look. I'm also open to suggestions on how to change them. I went with 28+ just to be a little conservative, and the color progression was copied from some slope angle maps that the Shasta Avalanche Center produced.
  9. Medical and Utility Pharmaceutics Mountaineering

    I actually watched this recently . . . they called it "adrenaline", it looked an awful lot like an epi pen administered directly to the neck. Edit: You're probably thinking of Vertical Limit, which has even more nonsense. Trolling or not, for the benefit of anyone else reading this, here goes. I'm a Wilderness EMT, which sounds a lot more impressive to those who don't actually know how limited an EMT's scope of practice is . . . but for me, it boils down this: Prescription Painkillers: These often have other detrimental side effects - decreased respiration rate, diuretic, etc. I carry some leftover vicodin but in general it's "I'm sorry you're hurt but pain won't kill you. Suck it up." Unless it's going to make it easier for them to self-transport (doubtful), I'm not going to risk complicating their condition just to make them feel better. Stimulants: I hope this is sort of a joke or just kicking random ideas around. It's one thing to take a stimulant just to stay awake - and I'm not endorsing that - but taking one while suffering from dehydration, altitude or other complications and expecting it to actually help you move faster and not blow up in your face . . . sounds a lot like playing with fire.
  10. new source for online topo maps

    Thanks, that's a pretty strong endorsement. I've been working on it as a mapping / planning tool for SAR for a long time. I'd show it to people, they'd go "hmmm . . . interesting" and that's as far as it went - and really, looking back on it, some of the initial versions were pretty poor. I just kept iterating on their feedback until it got to something I'm reasonably happy with. I'm sure the UI could be improved but I haven't been able to do much user testing. The other thing blocking anyone from taking it seriously was a lack of map data. I actually contacted MyTopo to see about licensing an offline copy of their maps, and they weren't interested. I tried building a California map layer on my computer, and learned a lot about open source GIS tools in the process. It started very slow with lots of manual intervention but was pretty well automated by the end. It took about 9 months to go from poking around with GIS tools to a nationwide topo layer. At any rate, the bottom line is that although my last employer got bought out by a bunch of schmucks and I decided to work on this full time for a couple months, it's mostly the result of investing many hundreds of hours in my spare time over the course of a year and a half or more. With all that time invested, I'd really like to see some more SAR teams evaluating the standalone, offline version so that I don't feel like all my efforts in that area are for naught. Send me a PM if interested.
  11. Avalanche discussion thread

    Someone who's survival may or may not have depended on a product they're paid to promote also almost died because decision making that most people wouldn't agree with. If there's one thing that really bothers me about how this event has been reported, it's the widespread message of "shit happens, and an airbag pack will save you". I'd give her a lot more credit if she used her new national stage to say "we fucked up, and that's the real lesson" or "we knew the risks, and finally the odds caught up with us". In fact, I think that stressing the pack so much borders on irresponsible . . . except that the media had already latched onto it before the survivors were off the hill, and I know from firsthand experience just how piss-poor a job they do reporting on what people actually say, so I'm going to try not to read too much out of a newspaper article. Edit: In case the above sentence didn't make it clear, this post is about how the event has been reported, not the individuals involved. There's a big game of telephone going on and all we can do is comment on the message that comes out at the end.
  12. new source for online topo maps

    I've added a slope analysis layer that allows you to shade slopes by angle and aspect. It's a good high-level visualization of potential avalanche starting zones that can assist with safe route planning, but it's important to remember that it's also just a tool, it should be one of many in your toolkit, and is in no way a substitute for good decision making based on conditions you observe on the ground. Some known limitations are listed here: http://caltopo.blogspot.com/2012/02/avalanche-slope-analysis.html As an example, here's Shasta shaded by slope angle: http://caltopo.com/map.html#ll=41.4,-122.2&z=14&b=t&n=0.25&o=r&a=slp_s-11111111 And here's Shasta with the S-E aspects shaded orange: http://caltopo.com/map.html#ll=41.4,-122.2&z=14&b=t&n=0.25&o=r&a=slp_a-11333111 You can click the + in the top right corner to switch between shading by aspect and angle, and also to enter danger-rose-style colors when shading by aspect. I'm still trying to sort out some server performance issues, so the shading may take a while to load. This is all highly experimental, and I welcome any feedback. In particular, I had to take guesses at what slope cutoffs to use and how to actually do the shading. This info is on the bottom right of the screen, but since it's subtle: Shading by aspect: slopes between 28 and 59 degrees are shaded, with 35-45 having dots on top to differentiate them. Shading by angle: 20-27: green 28-34: yellow 35-45: red 46+: blue If you'd rather use his tool, there's a good chance ryanb will be pulling this into hillmap.com, although I'm not sure exactly what form it will take.
  13. new source for online topo maps

    LukeShy - Please PM me the specs for you computer (OS, Firefox version, etc), and confirm that you're using the print icon in the upper right to adjust the page size. Also send me the map ID (if it's a map you've created) or the URL string, and the page size you're using. It works fine on the browsers I've been able to test, including an up-to-date copy of FF on Mac and Windows, but browser printing is always a little problematic; this is why Google generates a static image for printed maps. I'll see what I can do. - Matt
  14. new source for online topo maps

    Historical layer is now nationwide. The PNW has somewhat spotty coverage, but it's still interesting to see how things have changed over the last 100 years.
  15. new source for online topo maps

    Thanks all. I just switched on the new nationwide USFS layer. It doesn't cover all the national forests and most of the maps don't have green vegetation shading, but they do a better job showing roads, trails and private/public property boundaries than the USGS quads. Very helpful when you're trying to navigate a series of cryptically numbered logging roads. Stinkydog - working on center crosshairs.