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Terminal_Gravity

Feelings of Guilt

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I am deeply troubled. I know more than most what it is like to lose a loved one.

 

Two years ago yesterday, my beautiful and precious 8 year old daughter died in a rafting accident. I was the oar man. It truly was a freak thing, against all odds. I gave her CPR for 2-1/2 hours until we met an ambulance.

 

I don't carry a radio or a cell phone when I climb. I don't climb to get rescued. I make sure that I am self reliant. I make conservative choices, especially when soloing. I have excellent gear, a good mental focus and a wealth of experience. My Patagonia clothes may have made the difference between a bit of discomfort and seriousness, that morning on Rainier. To be sure; the conditions were on the intense side, but I never felt like the situation was approaching danger.

 

There I was; basically having fun while people less than a mile from me were struggling, and failing , for their lives. If I had carried a radio, maybe I could have helped. Was I being selfish or self absorbed? It is certainly appropriate to help those in need on the mountains, but where do we draw the line. My inclination is that I should have had a radio.

(Mike G. - maybe you can comment on this.)

 

It is making me sick to my stomach that I wrote a self congrateulatory TR for a climb that I did while fellow climbers died not far from me.

 

Again, my heart goes out to their families.

 

[ 05-30-2002, 09:03 AM: Message edited by: Terminal Gravity ]

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Did you know they were in trouble? If you didn't know, you can't do a damn thing. You should carry no shame or guilt.

 

Do you believe that a radio would have let you know they were in trouble? Think about it...you were on your own...what could you have done? Sure maybe something, maybe.

 

You were on a different side of the mountain...which as we all know, makes the ability to communicate with a radio very limited, if not impossible. Odds are you never would have had any commo with them any way. My recollection is that your GPS batteries froze up...so would have the radio batteries.

 

Your focus was right where it should have been, on keeping yourself alive. You are not a cop or EMS person patrolling the mountain. We know you would have helped had you known...you didn't know so you couldn't help.

 

You're right to question your actions and inactions...but the answer to that question is that your actions and inactions on the mountain were right.

 

To the three... [big Drink]

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I agree with Rodchester, TG. I am truly sorry for the loss of your precious daughter, & of these 3 fellow climbers. I imagine you can empathize with these climbers' families as most of us cannot. But I believe that we all would help in a situation like that if we were/are capable, but that we are not responsible for carrying communication devices in order to be notified of such situations. If you had been with a partner and both of you carried radios in order to help the other if necessary, that is still being self-sufficient, and I think each party needs to be self-sufficient that way. I believe no party is responsible for the safety & welfare of any other but their own. As stated before, though, I'm sure we all would/will help when able. Your humility is appreciated, and I think your actions are above reproach.

Peace, Jules

 

[ 05-30-2002, 09:21 AM: Message edited by: jules ]

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Sheeeeeeeeeeeeeeit, you shouldnt feel bad for being on a mountain when people were dying... there are people dying closer to you than that every day if you live near a hospital.

 

I mean, sure, the snow cave collapsed, they died, it sucks. BUT if you do not know them or know anyone who knows them is there any real reason to get all weepy over it? Or feel guilty because you dont feel sad?

 

Besides tears in the [big Drink][big Drink] make the [big Drink] lose its fizz faster...

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I agree with Dru. I hope this does not cause you to dwell on the negatives of climbing. We all know the dangers, particularly those of us who have had close calls or have lost someone before. Bad things happen to good people sometimes. Clearly you were not in a position to help.

 

-Iain

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TG - It seemed you were doing everything you could to get yourself out. It was a brilliant effort on your part and the mountain allowed you to go home, but sadly it didn't have the same leniancy towards the others. Feel good about what you did, feel sadness for them, but don't feel guilty about anything. Like Jules said...you're humility is appreciated.

[big Drink]

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If you helped them Terminal Gravity, you would have put yourself in danger due to the weather conditions. You would probably be in the same position they are now.

 

Rescue people do not go out in the weather conditions they were experiencing for this reason.

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TG,

 

Sorry to hear about losing your daughter -- I can't even begin to imagine how hard that was -- and I can understand how hearing of these climbers deaths gives you a heavy heart. But please do not feel guilty about not being there to help them or for posting your TR. In the conditions you faced, the most responsible thing you could do was what you did: keep yourself safe so that you do not put others at risk by ending up in need of a rescue.

 

As for the TR you posted... There are lessons to be learned from the tragic stories of deaths on a mountain, but if that is all we hear then where does that leave us? I feel it is important that we be reminded of the risks that we are taking, that we pause to recognize and be sad about the loss of fellow climbers, and ultimately that we try to learn something from their loss. But it is equally important that we celebrate the joy and exhilaration of climbing -- perhaps especially at times when fellow climbers are lost.

 

There's a quote I saw recently in a book written by a smoke-jumper:

"What we're all really seeking is an experience where we can feel the rapture of being alive."

I'd imagine that this is what you were doing on Rainier, and no doubt this is what these others were there doing as well.

Your TR shared that rapture and is a tribute not only to what you experienced but to what those who lost thier lives were seeking -- which, to me, allows us to reflect on how they lived their lives, not just how they died.

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Thanks, all of you. Your right: the line between being in control and being in danger can be crossed very quickly in the mountains; sometimes without even being aware of it. Even though i don't think that i was near that edge, i would have probably passed it if I had tried to help. My concern should be ( and is ) toward my remaining daughter.

 

Good Climbing - steve

 

[ 05-30-2002, 12:10 PM: Message edited by: Terminal Gravity ]

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T.G.,

 

You have my deep support. This is a time when our beloved climbing community should unite and help support your decision and your own efforts. It takes a remarkable person to exist in a world where his life is spared for a loved one that is lost. What you have experienced, hopefully I will never have to experience and hopefully no one else will ever have to experience. I can not say that it wont happen though. We do not choose, it chooses us. I will toast to your daughter tonight and play "Shady Grove" in her memory.God bless you my man.

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Baker, Rainier, Hood.

 

May we all learn lessons from these, and have the courage to apply them.

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the main problem today is that poeple do not accept responsibility for their actions.... people who climb should have this responsibility more than anyone else...yet we rely on rescues to get us out of uor self inflicted predicaments....i do not carry a cell phone or radio because i feel that i am self reliant and that is how it should be we should not endanger othes because of our incompetence and the risks associated with climbing must be realized and accepted when climbing if you cant accept the risk without having to drag innocent rescuers into the equation....you shouldn't be there.....TG....totally not your fault....we make our own choices and take the risks.....itis up to us to take responsibility for our own actions...

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How are the climbers on Mount Hood being irresponsible? Perhaps there were too many people on too few ropes, all queueing up to cross the bergschrund, and a simple slip caused a huge fuckup. So what? They still needed help.

 

I know this thread is about what happened on Rainier, but... RedMonk, your statement seems to imply that the people who died on mountains this past week are to be blamed somehow for some unspecified harm that their misfortune caused. Fuck that! Rescuers voluntarily put themselves in a risky position -- that's their job, they never get "dragged" into a rescue.

 

Rescues happen because incompetence, bad luck, poor decision making, and bad weather combine to create an out-of-control situation. Even very experienced climbers have been in a position where they've needed a rescue.

 

Have some compassion, man. Who are you to decide whether someone has taken enough responsibility for themselves to warrant a rescue? If you're in deep shit, you're in deep shit, no matter how skillfully or courageously you tried to fight your way out of it.

 

And TG, I hope you feel good to be alive to take care of your daughter. There's nothing you should have done differently on the mountain.

 

[ 05-30-2002, 10:42 PM: Message edited by: slothrop ]

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I agree with you redmonk to an extent. hypothetical... say you are climbing Rainier with your buds and you all have excensive experance, the weathers great you feel good everyone says they feel good but someone comes down with HACE and you are at the top of Rainier now in a small linticular cloud. Your partner wouldn't quit because he didn't want to let the team ( team of 3) down so he kept on going. Now what are you going to do this man has increasing ICP and you are stuck. Because we not prepared for the for worse. This man might die. Of course evac is the only possible soloution but at a time like this would you reget not having a cell phone ??? [Roll Eyes]

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tell ya what.... i would regret not having it...but the truth of the matter is that you should pick your partners well...and if you dont not trust yours and your partners judgements well enough to feel self-sufficient....then perhaps you should go hike pilchuck.... just my perspective....taking responsibility for our own lapse in judgement and that of our partners (which we pick).....

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To that all I can say is "amen". I am so sorry for your loss of your little girl. You did what you were supposed to be doing in getting yourself off the mountain and home to your family. You seem to me to be a gallant and wise man. May all these experiences bring the climbing community closer together for we are brothers (& sisters) in what we love.

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RedMonk, you have a point regarding self-reliance, and no one says you have to carry a cell phone when you climb-- but really, if you have the abilities and the self-reliance in the first place, whether or not you carry a cell phone should not in any way change your decisions on the mountain. I know that some climbers may put themselves at more risk than they would otherwise, because they have a false sense of security thanks to a cell phone and the presence of SAR. If so, they're making a big mistake. But whether or not a person carries a radio or phone in the end is not what determines how self-reliant he/she is: rather, that is determined by how a person conducts himself on the mountain. Even if you somehow don't burden the system with a phone call after an accident, if you turn up missing, the system will be burdened just the same, but with less chance of helping you.

I myself don't always carry a cell phone, and I don't much like its presence in my pack when I do-- I prefer not to have any links to the outside world, even potential ones-- but what generally convinces me that it's worth carrying is the idea that I might come across another party in trouble, and make a call that saves somebody else.

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The choice to carry a phone or radio has absolutely nothing to do with being self-reliant. When you decide to use it, it does. If I get lost on the Muir snowfield because my GPS runs out of batteries and I call in a rescue - I'm simply a dumbass. If my partner is laying at my feet with his helmet cracked open from the rock that just hit creamed him, I am irresponsible if I've chosen to forego using available means of communication to call in a rescue. I now have to answer questions from his wife/parents/kids about why I had to leave him there, run 9 miles to the trailhead where I'll hopefully find another hiker who HAS a phone to call it in...just because I was trying to be self-reliant.

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can't forget redmonk is just a kid, he just don't know any better....

 

self-reliance is an essesntial skill, but without intelligence and good decsion making it means shit.

 

god's speed to all the rescuers, victims and their familes for a healthy safe resolution.

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Carrying a phone or not is a matter of choice. For some, technology impedes on that escape. For others, their ideology is different, and cell phones allow a sense of security not otherwise obtainable in the wilderness. True, someone could get hurt and you could save their lives. That should be enough, but for some reason, I for one, am still reluctant to carry a cell phone.

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Self reliance comes from intelligence and good decision making. TG's report is an excellent example. How many people would have lost composure and started to act rashly in his situation, alone on the summit in a storm? The big difference in his case is that he had the experience and judgment to keep his cool and get himself out of the situation.

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