Two hikers lost on Mt. Shasta CA.

10:06 p.m. on June 23, 2008 (EDT)
MODERATOR REVIEW CORPS
998 reviewer rep
3,504 forum posts

Just heard that two hikers are lost on Mt. Shasta. There was contact Saturday by phone.

http://www.kcbs.com/Hikers-Missing-on-Mt--Shasta/2465570

11:07 p.m. on June 23, 2008 (EDT)
0 reviewer rep
171 forum posts

I hope they're found soon.

Never been to Shasta, but three rescues in 24 hours? That seems like a busy weekend to me. Is that normal, or an aberration?

11:13 p.m. on June 23, 2008 (EDT)
TOP 10 REVIEWER REVIEW CORPS
2,430 reviewer rep
5,354 forum posts

Note that the posting mentioned several other incidents in the preceding day or so.

People frequently underestimate Shasta. It is a serious mountain, at a bit over 14,000 ft, with glaciers and year round snow cover. Since it is considerably higher than the surrounding terrain and is fairly close to the coast (Pacific Ocean), it generates its own weather. The glaciers are serious glaciers, with significant crevasses. Accidents, serious injuries, and deaths occur every year on the mountain.

Shasta actually played a significant role in the founding of Trailspace in its present form, due to a tragic accident on Shasta. Many people on this site will remember the incident involving John Miksits ("Zippo"). John was a climbing partner of mine and others on the old Views From The Top forums "rec.climbing.useful" and "rec.backpacking.useful", those lines in the headers of the Backpacking and Climbing Forums. When he and his partner disappeared on Shasta April 12, 2000, people from all over the US headed for Shasta to aid in the search. Unfortunately, due to heavy storms and an accident in which a search helicopter crashed near the Shasta-Shastina saddle, the search was unsuccessful. His partner's body was found a couple days after they were reported missing, low on the mountain on the approach side. John's body was eventually found on Memorial weekend by some of the climbers from the rec.climbing.useful site. This incident, which generated a huge amount of traffic, led the VFTT owners to decide to close rcu and rbu and concentrate their web efforts in New England (VFTT still exists). But Dave and Alicia rescued the two sites, with the archives to form Trailspace.

11:57 a.m. on June 24, 2008 (EDT)
TOP 10 REVIEWER REVIEW CORPS
2,430 reviewer rep
5,354 forum posts

The 2 hikers walked out during the night and sheltered in a lumber yard near Weed. Which is really strange, since Weed is to the north of Shasta. Supposedly they went up the south side. Their report by cell phone of their GPS-derived coordinates was on the south side, but their description of their location was on the peak area on the north. A large number of S&R people were helicoptered in yesterday afternoon. Triangulation on their cell signal (and ping) was being used. According to last night's news reports, the man had been up Shasta a half dozen times, and they were planning to celebrate his birthday in August with another climb (apparently this was becoming a frequent tradition with the family).

The webcam shows the mountain pretty free of snow, except in the couloirs that are typically used for ascents by the non-technical routes (that is, the non-glacier routes).

Something strange is going on here.

4:30 p.m. on June 24, 2008 (EDT)
0 reviewer rep
2 forum posts

I summited Shasta Sunday morning and it was beautiful. The storm that came in Fri-Sat night was quite nasty and cold. High winds and snow on the summit. (We holed up in our tent at Hidden valley to wait it out). The S&R helicopter actually landed about 100 yds from our tent Sunday while we were on the mountain. I was with a guide and he thought that perhaps in the snow the couple had wandered down the Whitney Glacier instead of coming back down the West Face (or Cascade Gulch) where most people were climbing. It can be a bit deceiving when you come off of Misery Hill; you have to ascend/traverse before redescending. If they followed the line of the mountain, they might head down the Glacier. If so, our guide didn't think they stood much chance of surviving.

We didn't know that the guy had summited 6 times, which would imply that he knew the climb well.

7:29 p.m. on June 24, 2008 (EDT)
0 reviewer rep
2 forum posts
9:26 p.m. on June 24, 2008 (EDT)
MODERATOR
38 reviewer rep
1,757 forum posts

It sounds from the story that they had some gear, but didn't have a stove or overnight gear such as a sleeping bag or bivy sack. Doesn't sound like they had a shovel either. A shovel, plus a small canister stove and pot don't take up much room or weigh all that much. As a beginner winter camper, I carry each of those three with me, even on a day hike, plus some food. You never know.

9:50 p.m. on June 24, 2008 (EDT)
MODERATOR REVIEW CORPS
998 reviewer rep
3,504 forum posts

Hi Tom D, I know I am not the first, but I have used my whisperlite to start fires in rain soaked and frozen areas before, by building a small platform fire above the stove.
Yeah I'm lazy. But if it is winter time my stove goes.

11:43 a.m. on June 25, 2008 (EDT)
TOP 10 REVIEWER REVIEW CORPS
2,430 reviewer rep
5,354 forum posts

Shayne -
The TV news and the sfgate article make the whole incident even stranger. There are contradictions between the two, as well as the strangeness of their apparent route. In the TV story, the guy said that their water bottles froze early on. The sfgate article seems to imply they had enough water.

As I said in my post 5 up, they started from the south side (Bunny Flat and up Avalanche Gulch), but descended to the north (probably Whitney Glacier, but not certain, since the verbal description, GPS-derived coordinates they gave on one cell call, and pinged cell triangulation all gave different and inconsistent locations). The sfgate article again states that the guy went up Shasta "a couple times a year", which seems to match the TV reports that he had done it a half dozen times. On TV last night, the S&R people said it is easy to head the wrong direction off the top of Misery Hill. This seems unlikely to me, though in a whiteout with no compass if you did a hard right turn, you would indeed end on the Whitney (which has lots of crevasses - lucky them!). But they had a GPSR that apparently had mapping info (that's how they supposedly spotted the railroad track they followed into Weed). That should have given them the information to get back to Red Banks and the top of Avalanche Gulch. Maybe they did not put in any waypoints at critical locations - a basic GPS skill.

I would say their survival was more luck than skill or preparation.

November 20, 2014
Quick Reply

Please sign in to reply

 
More Topics
This forum: Older: Hikers lost in Denali Park Newer: Tents and Thunderstorms
All forums: Older: Pack Exchange Gregory? Newer: Aether 70 vs. Bora 65