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Learning from the recent tragedy...

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Learning from the recent tragedy...

Postby michaeljones » Thu Jul 21, 2011 2:53 pm

Although I'm a newbe here on this message board, I have had a love affair with the Sierras since my first pack trip as an 11 year old Boy Scout in 1967. I don't know if it's just my generation, or what it is, but we all learned right away that this magestic wonderland of enchantment will kill you in an instant...all you have to do is be careless. I have another term, but the families and friends are going through enough pain as it is.

I just want to impress on the folks that have limited experience to pay attention to things like "rock gloss" (my term) and you won't find yourself surrounded by rock that is so slippery your new hiking boots find difficulty keeping purchase. I had one scout master tell us that this place is poison...one drop will kill you. Maybe we were scared "straight" to a point, but it sure left an impression on me.

Pay attention to the weather and plan on having to shelter from rain, hail or even an early snow. We woke up one morning at 8500 ft. to a four inch blanket of snow. In August.

I know there are others more expressive and experienced than I who will hopefully expound on this thread by sharing their wisdom with all of us. I figure I won't stop learning till I'm dead and buried so I'll be heeding good advice too, and have been impressed with all the great posts and thoughtfullness on here.


Another thing we learned is to never cross over a railing or other boundary meant to keep out people. It is sad that this needs to be said again and again...



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Re: Learning from the recent tragedy...

Postby ManOfTooManySports » Thu Jul 21, 2011 3:19 pm

Michael Jones (formerly of Sydney?),

The people who died were enormously foolish. One report said they were 25' from the falls. That's nothing at all. And people were begging them to get out.

So, on the one hand, they were outliers, inexperienced people who lacked any common sense. On the other hand, look at the recent posts on the backcountry conditions thread: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=6282&start=105. That's a different kind of foolish, the kind I think you're talking about. I don't think there is a remedy for it, except surviving enough near-misses to get a sense of vulnerability.

My closest near-death experience in the Sierra was from a rock rolling from under me on a class 2 downclimb. Nothing reckless or foolish, just stuff-happens. But in my youth, I wound up off a cliff hanging from a root, scrambling to get a foothold on crumbly rock. I certainly learned from that one.
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Re: Learning from the recent tragedy...

Postby Kris » Thu Jul 21, 2011 4:21 pm

There's calculated risks, and there's recklessness. Accidents happen in both scenarios (unfortunately). I've worked extensively in the sierra's (often with groups) and have seen a handful of emergencies for various reasons. My opinion, be as prepared as possible (lightweight backpackers should always lean a bit heavy on the emergency kits), and enjoy the mountains as much as possible. Pushing our limits and abilities can be called a number of things, but it will always be a part of the thrill and backcountry experience for many.
~We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started... and know the place for the first time.

T.S. Eliot
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Re: Learning from the recent tragedy...

Postby michaeljones » Thu Jul 21, 2011 5:48 pm

Never been to Sydney Man of too Many...and yup you nailed what I had in mind with that link. Crumbly rock and I have had enough interaction unless the terrain is fairly level or other wise negotiable.

Thanks too Kris...I agree completely. The thrill is why I go. I call it therapy.
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Re: Learning from the recent tragedy...

Postby East Side Hiker » Thu Jul 21, 2011 7:38 pm

I could be wrong, but I think it was about, oh, who really knows now, when I first did the JMT around 1967. Maybe 1966. Hard to say.
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Re: Learning from the recent tragedy...

Postby michaeljones » Fri Jul 22, 2011 5:45 am

East Side Hiker wrote:I could be wrong, but I think it was about, oh, who really knows now, when I first did the JMT around 1967. Maybe 1966. Hard to say.


I remember all the gear was either canvas or leather, and all the clothing was cotton flannel or denim. Wool socks too. Heavy stuff. I remember trying to get down to 40 pounds pack weight. I try to get as close to 30 lbs now...how times and equipment change.
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Re: Learning from the recent tragedy...

Postby Vaca Russ » Fri Jul 22, 2011 6:54 am

I will reserve comment and just post a couple of pictures taken a few weeks ago.
Top of Vernal M&B.JPG
Imagine being 25 feet to the right. Should I cross the railing?


This is the risk...
Top of Vernal 1.JPG
Reserve comment


-Russ
” Auto racing, bull fighting, and mountain climbing are the only real sports … all others are games.”- Ernest Hemingway
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Re: Learning from the recent tragedy...

Postby Ikan Mas » Fri Jul 22, 2011 12:42 pm

:soapbox:

What worries me about these tragedies is that they make it easier for the National Park Management to restrict our activities. How so you ask? Say the park has 10 fatalities. Eight of them will be the general public, which can't be controlled (really, how can you control idiots?). But the other two will be backpackers, a demographic that can be controlled (e.g. through the permit system). So now, instead of just picking up your permit, you have to watch a 1/2 hour film before going out or you have to pay more fees up front to support the rescue effort. We become the easiest target because we are already controlled. The permitting of Half Dome was a first step in this direction. Yes, it was necessary, and it doesn't affect us so much, but I see it as a first step toward tighter controls.

The other problem with tighter controls is that encourages a certain population to defy those rules. I have ran into unpermitted folks in the back country that have no business being there and that were at great risk.

So how do we make the trails to all the big Yosemite attractions (Vernal and Nevada Falls, Yosemite Falls, and Wampama Falls) idiot proof so these people don't kill themselves? Pave the trails and put drinking fountains every 100 feet? Have a ranger in a booth at the trailhead to check your pass and your backpack? From what I've seen, its a wonder more people don't die of heat stroke on the trail given the general public's poor preparedness. Do you say something when you see someone performing an unsafe act? Didn't work on the most recent fatailities. My two cents.
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Re: Learning from the recent tragedy...

Postby rlown » Fri Jul 22, 2011 12:50 pm

Ikan Mas wrote:So how do we make the trails to all the big Yosemite attractions (Vernal and Nevada Falls, Yosemite Falls, and Wampama Falls) idiot proof so these people don't kill themselves? Pave the trails and put drinking fountains every 100 feet? Have a ranger in a booth at the trailhead to check your pass and your backpack? From what I've seen, its a wonder more people don't die of heat stroke on the trail given the general public's poor preparedness. Do you say something when you see someone performing an unsafe act? Didn't work on the most recent fatailities. My two cents.


Sell it to Disney.. :lol: You can't fix stupid, but I do understand why they closed the trail. Other tourists don't really wanna see the bodies..
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Re: Learning from the recent tragedy...

Postby whrdafamI? » Fri Jul 22, 2011 3:33 pm

rlown wrote:
Ikan Mas wrote:So how do we make the trails to all the big Yosemite attractions (Vernal and Nevada Falls, Yosemite Falls, and Wampama Falls) idiot proof so these people don't kill themselves? Pave the trails and put drinking fountains every 100 feet? Have a ranger in a booth at the trailhead to check your pass and your backpack? From what I've seen, its a wonder more people don't die of heat stroke on the trail given the general public's poor preparedness. Do you say something when you see someone performing an unsafe act? Didn't work on the most recent fatailities. My two cents.


Sell it to Disney.. :lol: You can't fix stupid, but I do understand why they closed the trail. Other tourists don't really wanna see the bodies..


Your probably right Russ but seeing pictures of the bodies might have a sobering effect.
Better to have it and not need it than it is to need it and not have it!

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Re: Learning from the recent tragedy...

Postby Whiplash » Fri Jul 22, 2011 4:35 pm

Another fine example of a Self-Correcting Error!!
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Re: Learning from the recent tragedy...

Postby michaeljones » Sat Jul 23, 2011 5:51 am

Bill Morell wrote:
rlown wrote:
Ikan Mas wrote:So how do we make the trails to all the big Yosemite attractions (Vernal and Nevada Falls, Yosemite Falls, and Wampama Falls) idiot proof so these people don't kill themselves? Pave the trails and put drinking fountains every 100 feet? Have a ranger in a booth at the trailhead to check your pass and your backpack? From what I've seen, its a wonder more people don't die of heat stroke on the trail given the general public's poor preparedness. Do you say something when you see someone performing an unsafe act? Didn't work on the most recent fatailities. My two cents.


Sell it to Disney.. :lol: You can't fix stupid, but I do understand why they closed the trail. Other tourists don't really wanna see the bodies..


Your probably right Russ but seeing pictures of the bodies might have a sobering effect.

You're onto something there Bill...when I was in high school, they would put the latest smashed up car some kid had killed him or herself in in front of the school for a couple of days...kept us from getting stupid right away again...but it never lasted long.

At King's Canyon at Roaring Falls, just a little waterfall really, but there was a pic of a woman floating facedown in the water. Served as a deterrent for our family...
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