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missing skier at alpental

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Kurt, I think most people would agree that this individual displayed very poor judgement. If you want to call that "jumping all over" then so be it.

 

I would say that making comments like the one you did while someone is lost and possibly dead is in poor taste.

 

Making a rapid judgement with limited facts is wrongheaded. This is why many people here hate it when the news media take a story involving a climbing accident and put their uninformed spin on it.

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I would say that making comments like the one you did while someone is lost and possibly dead is in poor taste.

I'd have to concede that you are right. I regret my first comment.

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I can say one thing, anyone that calls themself an "experienced backcountry skier" knows not to go into the backcountry alone w/o a beacon and gear (not that a beacon could have helped the rescue that much). From what I heard he had no gear or food. This could be hearsay, and he could be a phenomenol skier, but I call him a stupid BC skier.

 

What in the hell are you talking about? He is stupid because he wanted to enjoy some solitude? Perhaps he made a mistake by not telling someone where he was going or not carring a map and compass, etc, but I don't think that he was stupid for wanting to enjoy a little solitude. Come on, that is a stupid thing to say. thumbs_down.gif

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I hope the dialog will soon include map & compass or maybe lack thereof. I dont know if its time for that yet. Right now I'm happy he's back.

 

 

this is total conjecture, but i get the feeling he was riding the lifts at alpental and took the 'great scott traverse' over to the alpental backcountry. this is something lots of people do every day on regular alpine gear because you can just ski back to the lifts on your way out. somehow in the low visibilty he got disoriented and descended from pineapple pass or something and headed down the south side of the ridge into never never land instead of north-east back to the ski area. anyway, he was probably just riding the lifts and got lost. it happens. this kind of thing could happen to anybody. i really have to admire his perseverance to stay alive 4 days out there.

 

here's one for you buddy

bigdrink.gif

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2 years ago I spent a night out above Paradise after getting disorientated coming off the Muir snowfield, I had no gear and temps of 12 degrees. I learned to always take H2O proof matches, a small tarp or bivi sac, and extra dry fleece gloves. Of course if Dan was alpine skiing he wouldn't be expected to anticipate being in the backcountry. My skull hat's off to this guy. This guy Dan is a hard-ass to the 10th degree, holy shit the mind games he must have endured to keep dealing with those conditions...........BTW how in hell could anyone cover those distances and elevation gains/losses in alpine gear? Sure AT or Tele, but alpine? Looking forward to more info...........

Welcome home Dan! wave.gif

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BTW how in hell could anyone cover those distances and elevation gains/losses in alpine gear? Sure AT or Tele, but alpine? Looking forward to more info...........

 

its about one and a half miles and maybe 1500ft of gain to get over to tuscohatchie lake from where he was... you think that's a huge distance to cover in 4 days??? perhaps you are being sarcastic.

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w/o skins I don't think having a detached heel is really going to buy you much in the way of movement in that snow. You can shimmy around, but that's not in powder. I have no idea if he had skins or not, or what skis he had.

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I too wondered how anyone could spend 4 days out there and not stumble into civilization etc, but with tiredness, a bit of halucinations, poor vis, and the inability to travel easily through deep snow I can see it. The guy made it out and in order to do so must have been pretty determined, crafty, and have a huckofa will to live. I'd ski with him,..right on!

 

Alex

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Minor point maybe but with respect to what the stories are saying right now, but I'd quibble with "made it out" and instead use "survived". Also, I would heartily agree with "determined", but the jury is still out on "crafty".

 

I am really interested in hearing more of this story. I hope it becomes available. Incredible survival story as it sounds now thumbs_up.gif.

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I think he had downhill gear- fixed heels and no skins. Once you get into those valley bottoms, it's going to be very difficult to move efficiently.

 

I heard from the TV last night he had entered the Pratt River valley drainage.

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w/o skins I don't think having a detached heel is really going to buy you much in the way of movement in that snow.

That depends on how recently you've waxed and your base. I forgot to wax my skis(Mitos) earlier this year - I could walk up hill - like skinning. Downhill, to say the least, sucked.

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No Greenfork, just hadn't checked a topo of the area west of Melakwa/alpental area recently, thought it was farther. No sarcasm here.......

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It does seem odd that he ended up where he was. It looks like he:

Skied down/over to Hemlock Pass and then probably started going down to the NW and realized he was probably going the wrong direction and headed south and ended up going up and over the ridge to the lake. Each time he changed direction he ended up in a different drainage that was facing a completely different direction. Very disorienting.

 

Two things that seem the oddest to me:

- he went SW over the ridge from Denny Mountain (or the tooth or Hemlock Peak) instead of going the usual NE (100% wrong direction).

- When he got to Hemlock pass (or nearby) he didn't hear the highway and head down in that direction. Instead he went the other direction (100% wrong direction).

 

It can be a somewhat disorienting area because you are actually in a completely different drainage (two drainages over on the into the Pratt River/North Fork Snoqualmie drainage). It's pretty amazing that SAR even contemplated looking in that area.

 

I'm probably stating the obvious; overall it seems he was completely disoriented because he probably didn't know the area at all and had no idea what was north or south or where the highway is/runs in relation to Alpental (nor did he take the necessary steps to orient himself when he had the chance). Not a place to be by yourself.

 

The guy is lucky and a hard*ss. Good for him for having the strength and skill and motivation to stay alive.

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I note several comments about how he should not have been there alone both here and in the press. Is there some reason to think that if there were two skiers, both of whom were unable to tell which way was which and didn't know the terrain (two matters we are speculating about), they would more likely have found their way back to the highway? Similarly, it was argued here that he was an idiot for failing to bring avalanche gear. There was no avalanche burial, so an avalanche beacon would not have made any differences, but perhaps an avalanche shovel would have been useful to help him get better shelter - though this too would probably not have resulted in his rescue any sooner, would it? And then there are those who have criticized him for not have a map and compass. How many people who ski out of bounds at Alpental carry a map and compass? I bet some of us who have gone to climb Chair Peak or The Tooth have even thought these unnecessary upon occasion.

 

This is a fascinating story and I'm interested in learning what actually happened - or at least laerning more about what happened, but as we speculate about this and that scenario I wonder what others may have to say about these "fundamental mistakes" that have been said to demonstrate a profound lack of experience or judgment.

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he probably didn't know the area at all and had no idea what was north or south or where the highway is/runs in relation to Alpental

 

One of the articles I read quoted his dad as saying something like the guy had skied the area many times and was very familiar with the bc terrain there. Don't know which article though, sorry.

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It's possible that a pair of skiers might also have become disoriented, but less likely. I subscribe to the adage that two heads are better than one. In this particular case, it was said that Mr. Witkowski had poor eyesight and this may have contributed to his disorientation. A partner with better eyesight might well have prevented that fateful wrong turn.

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One of the articles I read quoted his dad as saying something like the guy had skied the area many times and was very familiar with the bc terrain there. Don't know which article though, sorry.

 

The big difference is that he didn't know the area enough to realize that he completely missed the Alpental Backcountry. It wouldn't surprise me if he knew every chute and cliff in the Alpental BC, but he didn't know the area enough to know that he was heading down the wrong drainage.

 

I agree, it will be interesting to hear the real story if it ever comes out. I don't think there is any smoking gun. It's not about whether he should have been skiing alone, or have a map or compass or the right gear. It's really about putting everything together and making the right decisions. It seems to me that he was a hardcore alpine/resort skier that didn't have the backcountry sense to know where he was or how to get back. He didn't make the right decisions and seems that he didn't have the backcountry sense to be out there in the first place. He knew how to keep himself alive under extreme circumstances and that's about it....

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I'm glad he is going to be ok. All the castigation is unnecessary. I just see a big plug for having a surgically implanted compass. I'll bet he wished he knew which way south was so bad...

 

Maybe it's time to buy one of the big-ass watches with a compass in it.

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Yet more misinformation in the article....we know Alpental has no "rugged backcountry" on the W side. It's misleading, again. thumbs_down.gif

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Talked to one of the searchers yesterday and asked a couple of questions.

1) He had never skied off that side before and therefore really didn't know that side of Alpental.

2) Tracks indicated he was changing dirrection a lot and therefore made only one days progress in four days.

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