Search and rescue lessons, White Mountains

2:13 p.m. on September 20, 2012 (EDT)
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Injured hiker recently rescued:

http://www.unionleader.com/article/20120919/NEWS07/709199860

notable:

-the weather was really bad.  70 mph sustained winds, and over 5 inches of rain fell while the injured hiker was stranded.  sounds like he tried to set up his tent, and it blew away.  had he not been rescued that night, hypothermia probably would have been life-threatening. 

-hiking alone could have been disastrous in this case.  he was lucky to have gotten cellular calls out to seek help. 

-note how long it took SAR to extract him on foot, and how many different groups coordinated.  not atypical, but still, it's impressive. 

6:20 p.m. on September 20, 2012 (EDT)
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A good job! Solo hiking in that area at this time of year is not typically dangerous and the hiker seemed to have been properly prepared. But **it happens. The winds alone would have made itching a tent above treeline a Marx Brothers comedy; add the rain... ugh.

8:10 p.m. on September 20, 2012 (EDT)
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sounds like the guy was lucky to get a cell phone signal out. one of the reasons I don't like to go solo. good thing he was properly equipped, even though his tent blew away!

3:06 p.m. on September 21, 2012 (EDT)
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That mountain is notorious for bad weather.  Glad it turned out okay. 

10:30 a.m. on September 24, 2012 (EDT)
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Glad the guy got out of the ordeal OK. 

This is a PERFECT illustration of why the advice to ditch the "Unnecessary" weight of emergency blanket/bivy are misguided. The argument that "You've got a tent, there's no reason to carry the extra weight!" can be dangerous. Had this guy not been able to get cell signal, he would have been toast. It doesn't matter how beastly you are, a wet sleeping bag in cold high winds will get get you killed. A couple ounces of emergency shelter makes an almost unbelievable difference.  

It's also a good reminder that shoulder seasons are often more dangerous to the average hiker than summer or winter extremes. 

2:09 p.m. on September 24, 2012 (EDT)
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Though it isn't common, one can encounter very high winds, temperatures in the 30's, and rain/freezing rain/sleet in the white mountains in the middle of the summer.  it is clearly something to be aware of in the fall (in the spring, there is usually still enough snow at higher elevations that most hikers, even those with less experience and/or judgment, tend to plan for it). 

10:49 a.m. on October 1, 2012 (EDT)
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Unlike carpentry,

measure twice cut one.

With mountaineering, particularly alone,

check weather thrice and pack extra

12:26 p.m. on October 1, 2012 (EDT)
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This is one of my fav areas, I live a couple hrs south of there so I get there regularly. This time of year it goes from the 60's to the 30's maybe the 20's daily, without the torrential rains and wind. I carry my synthetic bag until everything is def frozen, bivy and a thermolite reactor liner because that area is notorious for miserable weather. Unpredictable because of the micro climate of mt. Washington, in my opinion. That storm was predicted for several days, he should have been under cover. It was on the news a lot longer than the three days he was in the bush. I tracked it all the way from the gulf of mexico, and stayed home. I lost most of a tree and got three inches of rain with 40mph winds.

5:26 p.m. on October 2, 2012 (EDT)
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Complacency is lethal. especially in wild places.

Makes me feel a bit better about my OCD self when feeling dumb for always packing the emergency blanket regardless of the forecast. Also, makes me want to further reconsider solo hiking... although i love it too much.

5:47 p.m. on October 2, 2012 (EDT)
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i virtually always carry a bivy bag, US Army issue gtx, in the white mountains.  you just never know. 

9:12 p.m. on October 2, 2012 (EDT)
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I second that, sixty and dry at the bottom and thirty five with rain at the top.

8:09 a.m. on October 4, 2012 (EDT)
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More to the story than meets the eye! It was reported further that the gentleman arrieved the evening before, and struck out on the trail at 10.30 pm.  He spent the night in the woods, and headed out the next morning feeling confident that since he'd experienced similiar high winds on a previous hike in the northern presidentials that he could handle these conditions.  Proceeding along the Franconia Ridge, apparently  elements were very dramatic with high sustained winds, and driving rain. 

 

Now this is where the story reveals his poor judgement.  He reported that while attempting  to jump up on to a rock backwards in high winds, he fell, which resulted in his hip injury.  the fact was that his artificial hip was damaged to the point that it was dangling uselessly, and obviously he was reduced to crawling or hopping on one leg as a means of locomotion. His tent had previously blown away. 

I have to ask what is a senior aged citizen with an artificial hip doing hiking alone in the white Mtns in these conditions?   

I hope that he is held responsible for the costs of the rescue effort.   

 

1:45 p.m. on October 4, 2012 (EDT)
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If the man had been reckless or negligent, I would want him to pay all costs of rescue. However, in this situation he appears to have been well-prepared for the seasonal changes. He lost his tent, but even if he had a backup bivy, he would still need to be rescued because it is unlikely that he could crawl over those boulder fields with his bad hip.

I love the comment 

I have to ask what is a senior aged citizen with an artificial hip doing hiking alone in the white Mtns in these conditions? 

The man is only 59 years old : )  

2:11 p.m. on October 4, 2012 (EDT)
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As a matter of fact.........in less than a year the man is eligable for the National Park Senior Pass benefit given to senior citizens at the age of 60.  , and in less than 3 years he's eligable to receive Social Security retirement benefits given to senior citizens at the age of 62.  I'd say that , he'd meet the definition of  being a "Senior". And say nothing of the matter of having an artificial Hip which is found on more "seniors" than their younger age-group. 

 

2:29 p.m. on October 4, 2012 (EDT)
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Hey, mikemack! I'm 60. Come to the Rockies and hike a few mountains with me. Review my trip reports first, though, and see if you'd be able to keep up. I don't have time to haul inexperienced kids up to the more interesting spots, unless I'm getting paid a lot of money for babysitting.

Now as for the hip damage, you say he damaged his artificial hip. Not mentioned in the original story - "he fell ... and seriously injured his hip" - so there's a question of what you're actually talking about.

If you're referring to a hip replacement, that would be inside his body attached to his pelvic bone, and it would therefore be impossible for it to 'dangle uselessly'. That would put the injury into a class where something similar could happen to anybody, of any age. Younger people fall and break bones all the time, too. If you're talking about a prosthetic leg, that would be different, but I don't see anything suggesting that was the case.

So which is it?

5:40 a.m. on October 7, 2012 (EDT)
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I have an artificial knee. Im 44 yrs yrs old and have had it two yrs. I have one that has been recalled by the fda. I hike where he was pretty regularly( 4 times last summer) usually spend several days. I couldnt find any mention of him having an artificial anything. Conditions played the major role in this accident, not his age or hip.

9:20 a.m. on October 9, 2012 (EDT)
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.you all might like to read the followup report in the Manchester Union Leader reported on september 30th to give you a clearer sense of his rescue. 

10:06 a.m. on October 9, 2012 (EDT)
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To anyone that wonders what a "senior citizen" is doing alone in the mountains:  For a lot of us, it is who we are and what we have always done.  We go slower and not as far, but we still go.  Maybe you will understand when you get older yourself.  Staying in shape is more of a challenge, and nearly all of a us have some injured body parts, but a strong mental constitution can make up for a lot of things.  It is disappointing that the guy in question didn't use better judgement to stay out of trouble.

10:49 a.m. on October 9, 2012 (EDT)
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hey i can appreciate what you're saying................I'm sixty-four.  I just came back from hiking half the John Muir trail in CA.  Last year I rode the Maah Dah Hey Bike trail in the Dakotas, and I ski, run, bike daily.  I know the cost of cummulative wear, tear and time on the body.  I get up daily  and inventory my injuries from previous day's jaunts.  with having said all that, I always temper what I am able to attempt to do based on common sense, my limitations and respect for nature's element which can be cruel, unrelenting  and unconsiderate.  I know this well....for having been a back country ski guide, rock climbing and winter mountaineering instructor in the White Mountains.

1:37 p.m. on October 9, 2012 (EDT)
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i suppose everyone has to use their own judgment regarding weather conditions.  hiking in sustained 70 mph winds may sound crazy, but I have hiked up and over all of the northern presidentials in those conditions without a problem - because the weather was otherwise clear or just had light precipitation.  I have seen winds in the 90-100 range up there a few times, and our decision-making about whether to move forward or turn around generally hinged on other factors - visibility, personal well-being (hypothermia & frostbite risk) and footing, primarily.  you're more likely to slip & fall, get lost, or suffer from hypothermia if you add heavy rain or snow to the mix. 

this guy was pummeled by over 5 inches of rain.  that's a very serious storm that probably showed up in a weather forecast & carried advanced warnings.  to me, this was his primary error - failing to check weather conditions, and failing to turn back short of the ridge when it was apparent that he was facing a serious weather event. 

the same goes for an artificial hip.  bo jackson had his hip replaced after a football injury in the early 1990s; earlier this year, he cycled 300 miles through Alabama to benefit victims of a tornado.  if this guy didn't have an artificial one, he might very well have injured himself regardless. 

10:39 a.m. on October 10, 2012 (EDT)
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Well, after reading the expanded version of the story - http://www.unionleader.com/article/20120930/NEWS07/709309862&source=RSS - I must say that the hiker did not use common sense and, at the very least, should have hunkered down in a sheltered area rather than walked that slippery trail in those conditions. The hiker should be charged the  (monetary) rescue costs for his reckless behavior, as the law allows. On the positive side, the hiker is properly thankful for the rescue, which is not always the case.

11:29 a.m. on October 10, 2012 (EDT)
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This storm was forecast several days ahead of this accident. There were warnings all over new hampshire, high winds,possible tornadoes and heavy rain. He is quoted as saying he knew about the weather, then why did he go? He made a foolish decision when he went alone in thise conditions.

4:07 p.m. on October 10, 2012 (EDT)
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For those of you who have never read the story here is a PDF link to a news letter with the whole McDonald Barr Story

http://www.ohcroo.com/pdf/spring2001.pdf 

 It is a long but good cautionary tale about how things can go wrong in the Mt. Washington area.

/sorry they won't let me post links

8:34 p.m. on October 10, 2012 (EDT)
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To those who ask why he didn't heed weather forecasts and not do the hike... in New England you would seldom get any hiking in, if you believed all the forecasts. Besides, those mountains have their own weather.

A wise man - or Samuel Clemens - once said "God made everything in the universe except New England weather. He gave that to a team of apprentice weathermakers and they tried to fit everything into one day."

also

There is a sumptuous variety about the New England weather that compels the stranger's admiration — and regret. The weather is always doing something there; always attending strictly to business; always getting up new designs and trying them on people to see how they will go. But it gets through more business in spring than in any other season. In the spring I have counted one hundred and thirty-six different kinds of weather inside of twenty-four hours. - S. Clemens

Probable nor'east to sou'west winds, varying to the soutard and westard and eastard and points between; high and low barometer, sweeping round from place to place; probable areas of rain, snow, hail, and drought, succeeded or preceded by earthquakes with thunder and lightning. - S. Clemens

see http://www.twainquotes.com/18761223.html

11:10 a.m. on October 11, 2012 (EDT)
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I agree with that in part. This storm was causing damage all the way from the gulf of mexico. I hike in almost any conditions, all winter but I stayed home that time. You have to temper that gung ho attitude with a little common sense.

11:47 a.m. on October 11, 2012 (EDT)
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Tÿcho,

Welcome to Trailspace! 

I activated the link for you. The Barr story is great one to share in this topic! 

There is a necessary introductory period for new members that prevents linking as a spam prevention measure. 

Glad to have you here, keep joining in the forums, and you'll be able to post freely in no time. 

Best, 

Gonzan

September 16, 2014
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