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Survival / Lost, what would you do?

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Re: Survival / Lost, what would you do?

Postby maverick » Sun May 22, 2016 10:41 am

Maybe better to realize this and respond accordingly instead of talking down to and treating us as if you were the only experienced one here and we are completely clueless.


Sorry you feel this way Mark, in no way are my intentions to talk down to anyone, my apologies to anyone who may have been offended and has taken my thread as such here on HST.

My intentions here are only to keep safety at the forefront at the beginning of our new backpacking season and to remind members, especially those who may be embarking into the wilderness for the first time, about refreshing the basic's to survival.


Perhaps, let's instead assume that many here are Sierra pros - cool-headed and knowledgeable.


You can go ahead assume that Mark, personally I won't do that until someone has somewhat reasonably shown otherwise.


I wonder how many others here are becoming somewhat offended too
.

Would be interested too, those of you who are experienced and long time members, who do not care for reminders about refreshing our first aid skills, rethinking our approaches in case of survival, or helping our less experienced members with some of our wisdom that we have gained through our own trials and tribulations, can easily disregard my posts conerning these subject matters.
Personally my hope is that more of you "experienced members" will chime in, seeing and understanding the importance of this and other threads like it. :)


EIther way, I will continue to be a "soapbox" for safety as long as I continue to read about parents thinking that their son had exited the wilderness, only realizing a week later that he never did, which was the case of Michael Meyers, a 25 year old UCLA student back in Nov 2015. Sorry, I just can't turn the other way and say "well I'm experienced and that ain't happening to me".

:soapbox:
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Re: Survival / Lost, what would you do?

Postby Jimr » Sun May 22, 2016 12:19 pm

Turning around often to know what the return looks like, absolutely! We talked about out and back trips and the fact that reversing your steps is a whole new view of the scenery. Almost to the point that it feels like new ground.


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Re: Survival / Lost, what would you do?

Postby tomba » Sun May 22, 2016 3:21 pm

Here is a realistic scary scenario for me.

Nine day solo trip late September. On day 3, on a cross country route, you stashed away the pack at 11,000' and climbed a class 2 peak. On the way down, you broke your leg. It is late afternoon. You have SPOT, but, unknown to you, it can't summon help. You have a sun hat, a warm hat, gloves, nylon shirt, thin fleece jacket, down jacket, zip-off pants, belt, adjustable trekking poles, camera, smart phone (no signal), signal mirror. No food or water. No rain gear. There is food and 1L of water in the pack that you left behind. Nobody will visit this remote area until the next year. Nobody will be looking for you until day 10 or 11, after you are more than one day overdue, per instructions left with the family. You left with the family the most likely rough route and several rough options. The peak was unplanned, not in any of the optional routes. The pack is mostly hidden, hard to find for rescuers. You are 2 days and one or two passes away from any trailhead. To reach any trail you would have to cross a difficult terrain.

I would try to stabilize my leg with sections of trekking poles and belt, trying not to cut off blood circulation. I would also send SOS from SPOT, unsure whether it works.

The first priority would be to stay warm and dry. If it rains I would be in big trouble. Typically in such area there are no places to hide from rain. Down jacket would become almost useless when wet. Even if I had my rain jacket, it would be impossible to keep all of me dry. Would poncho be better in such case?

Even if it doesn't rain it would be a very cold night, but, I hope, it would be survivable.

The next priority would be water. I hope I would be able to crawl to my pack. It could take perhaps 2 or 3 days. If the days are sunny, windless, and hot I would have to minimize sweating. Perhaps crawl at night? I could occasionally use the phone as a flashlight. If there is an obstacle I can't crawl around my situation would be dire.

When it's sunny, from time to time I would scan the horizon with the signal mirror. Also signal any visible areas where there might be people, and approaching airplanes. A series of 3 flashes, repeated a few times.

When I get to the pack I would ration the 1L water, and keep crawling with the pack to some water. I would also ration the remaining food. After getting to water, I would stay put.

After a few days it would become apparent that SPOT didn't work. Starting with day 11, every 2 hours on the hour during waking hours I would turn on the phone for 5-10 minutes, with airplane mode off. I wouldn't keep it on all the time, in order to conserve power. I don't know whether rescuers have equipment to track cell phone signal.

The most vulnerable time for me seems to be when I am separated from the pack that has my rain shelter, sleeping bag, and water. There is only so much stuff that I can take with me in my pockets, hanging from my belt, and tied around my waist. It would help if I took with me the rain fly, more warm clothes, and 0.5L water bottle. What's a good way to pack that without adding much weight? A separate day pack would be too heavy. Perhaps a stuff sack with some straps sewn in? Any ideas? Another option is to have the main pack with removable hip belt and removable aluminum stays (e.g., Zimmer Packs).

Is poncho a better emergency protection than a rain jacket?

Anything else to prepare?
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Re: Survival / Lost, what would you do?

Postby AlmostThere » Sun May 22, 2016 3:43 pm

If you are significantly off route, what will likely find you first is a helicopter, so think about things that increase visibility from the air -- very bright colored or reflective things. Nothing like a laser pointer -- you'll get in big trouble if that gets in a pilot's eyes! A red rain poncho would be perfect. Throw it out in a wide open spot and find something contrasting -- some nice black duct tape, white rocks -- to SOS with. Flash the signal mirror if you see the chopper. They may leave, but it won't be because they didn't see you necessarily -- they can't always land where you are. The key is to look like you want help -- I was told about one search where the chopper was taking team members out in twos, and passing back and forth over a meadow with a tent in it -- on one trip they decided to land and ask if the guy had seen the lost guys, and it turned out he was one of them. He wasn't even waving at the chopper. It may have been he wasn't aware of which kind of chopper it was, but that is beside the point -- all choppers have radios, and if it's out there, it's likely he knows there is a search going even if it is a military or private model.

Lighting yourself a fire is appropriate in a survival situation. Might not have much fuel up high, but if you can get anything going if you hear aircraft -- the lower flying prop kind, mind you -- it's worth a go.

A couple of contractor bags, the 10mm heavy kind, weighs very little and rolls up into the bottom of even my fanny pack. Big enough to bivy in, or use as a small tarp.

Tomba's scenario is reminiscent of a lone peakbagger search -- I think it was Norman Clyde Peak. They were looking for an overdue peakbagger, found his crampons down slope, found him dead up in the rocks. He had been climbing alone and they figured from the head lamp he was working back down in the dark. And on the way back to the drop point, one of my friends dropped his sunglasses under the edge of a snowfield, and with an improvised trekking pole-duct tape rig got his sunglasses, plus a very old human bone. Don't think we ever heard back from whatever DNA testing was done, and I'll never hear since I left the SAR team, but it was a sobering story.

I've never heard of a SAR team getting any kind of coordinate from a cell phone. I've seen it mentioned in news reports for searches outside the Sierra, though, so assume it is possible and some of the jurisdictions must have less red tape than we do, or something....
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Re: Survival / Lost, what would you do?

Postby Jimr » Sun May 22, 2016 6:52 pm

AlmostThere wrote:If you are significantly off route, what will likely find you first is a helicopter, so think about things that increase visibility from the air -- very bright colored or reflective things.....


I learned a big lesson there when I was in Tehipite Valley. I used white rocks against dark rock background to make a big "X" on the ground. When the helicoptor passed by, I was waving my red shirt. He didn't see either. When the Sheriff's did arrive and I told him about the helicoptor, he told me the pilot didn't see us. He saw my ground cloth under my tent. A big, blue painters tarp and said that would have been a good thing to use. Think big! A good argument for a brightly colored footprint or white for a palette and duct tape a big "X".
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Re: Survival / Lost, what would you do?

Postby sambieni » Mon May 23, 2016 1:08 pm

maverick wrote:
My intentions here are only to keep safety at the forefront at the beginning of our new backpacking season and to remind members, especially those who may be embarking into the wilderness for the first time, about refreshing the basic's to survival.

...
Would be interested too, those of you who are experienced and long time members, who do not care for reminders about refreshing our first aid skills, rethinking our approaches in case of survival, or helping our less experienced members with some of our wisdom that we have gained through our own trials and tribulations, can easily disregard my posts conerning these subject matters.
Personally my hope is that more of you "experienced members" will chime in, seeing and understanding the importance of this and other threads like it. :)

EIther way, I will continue to be a "soapbox" for safety as long as I continue to read about parents thinking that their son had exited the wilderness, only realizing a week later that he never did, which was the case of Michael Meyers, a 25 year old UCLA student back in Nov 2015. Sorry, I just can't turn the other way and say "well I'm experienced and that ain't happening to me".

:soapbox:


Appreciate the thread. As someone with more limited backcountry experience, it is helpful to learn from other folks' experiences. I commend the effort to coax folks to think about potential scenarios a/o share their own experiences. It is already helpful to me as I think of 1-2 more things to throw into my pack - backcountry or day.

One thing curious about - why do you recommend back country shelter/blanket? If you're trekking, I would assume you would have a pack w a tent/tarp and sleeping bag already. Why the extra item? Seems superfluous. I could see the need in a daypack where you're intending to return after a few hours.
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Re: Survival / Lost, what would you do?

Postby maverick » Mon May 23, 2016 1:32 pm

Sambieni wrote:
One thing curious about - why do you recommend back country shelter/blanket? If you're trekking, I would assume you would have a pack w a tent/tarp and sleeping bag already. Why the extra item? Seems superfluous. I could see the need in a daypack where you're intending to return after a few hours.


When basecamping in the backcountry and then going on a day hike, one should always carry some survival gear with themselves in case you get injured or lost, instead of carrying your sleeping bag the space blanket (3 oz) can save weight, and yes, it should be part of a day hikers essentials gear too.
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Re: Survival / Lost, what would you do?

Postby maverick » Mon May 23, 2016 3:10 pm

Tomba wrote:
The first priority would be to stay warm and dry. If it rains I would be in big trouble. Typically in such area there are no places to hide from rain. Down jacket would become almost useless when wet. Even if I had my rain jacket, it would be impossible to keep all of me dry. Would poncho be better in such case?


Personally I always have a pancho, it works as rain gear and shelter, and weighs only 10 oz. A space blanket should be included as part of your day hike or climb gear, you never know when you could be forced to spend a night or more away from you camp. A fire start kit, mine consists of some cotton balls dipped in vaseline in a old film canister, should be with you too. Some type of water purification is also part on my kit.


The next priority would be water. I hope I would be able to crawl to my pack. It could take perhaps 2 or 3 days. If the days are sunny, windless, and hot I would have to minimize sweating. Perhaps crawl at night? I could occasionally use the phone as a flashlight. If there is an obstacle I can't crawl around my situation would be dire.


Headlamp is consider one of the essentials, and should be with you any extended time you will be away from your basecamp. Also have an exit/emergency plan already planned oiut in case you get injured. Know should know where all the popular trails are relative to you location, know where and how far your nearest water source is from your intended day hikes or climbing goals for that day, before starting. Also pay attention to your terrain, memorize firewood locations along the way, so in case of an emergency, you do not have to waste precious time looking for some.



After a few days it would become apparent that SPOT didn't work. Starting with day 11, every 2 hours on the hour during waking hours I would turn on the phone for 5-10 minutes, with airplane mode off. I wouldn't keep it on all the time, in order to conserve power. I don't know whether rescuers have equipment to track cell phone signal.


Ranger and HST member George Durkee had mention that there was such newer technology, possibly military, that could be used, but he will have to clarify this.



The most vulnerable time for me seems to be when I am separated from the pack that has my rain shelter, sleeping bag, and water. There is only so much stuff that I can take with me in my pockets, hanging from my belt, and tied around my waist. It would help if I took with me the rain fly, more warm clothes, and 0.5L water bottle. What's a good way to pack that without adding much weight? A separate day pack would be too heavy. Perhaps a stuff sack with some straps sewn in? Any ideas? Another option is to have the main pack with removable hip belt and removable aluminum stays (e.g., Zimmer Packs).


Some packs have detachable top parts that can be used for daypacks, I just use my pack a Osprey 58, now a ZPack Arc, the weight is minimal, so taking it along is not big deal.


Is poncho a better emergency protection than a rain jacket?


Have used it in pretty bad weather, if the weather is really stormy it works better combine with some rain pants, but can be difficult to manage in very windy conditions, and not the best in bushwacking conditions either, so it really depends on the circumstances. A small tarp combine with some rain gear may be a better solution in some cases.
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Re: Survival / Lost, what would you do?

Postby rlown » Mon May 23, 2016 6:36 pm

I would really appreciate some of those that are somewhat new to backpacking to say how they prepare and what they would do in the scenarios, or at least mention how they pack/prepare for their trip. We won't pick it apart.. Mav might. If you want suggestions on how to improve your approach, just say so at the end of your post. If you don't, say that as well.

Posting on this thread helps everyone, except us old farts. Hey, we still learn new tricks from time to time as well. ;)
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Re: Survival / Lost, what would you do?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Mon May 23, 2016 8:53 pm

First I will answer the up-front questions.

Allergies - yes, always have Benydrl- this works for all my allergies

shelter - always when backpacking - minimum a bivy sack, most of the time tent, always an appropriate sleeping bag

shelter when day-hiking - enough clothing and outer layer that is water/wind proof. I have done many overnight bivouacs with a minimal clothing to a bivy sack, w/o sleeping bag, in many conditions, so I am quite aware of what I need. Used to do mountaineering, and getting stuck on a climb was not common, but did this more than a dozen times, some quite dramatic, most with a group or at least one other person, a few solo.

purify water w/o filter -- I often do not take any kind of water purification means. I have chlorine dioxide tablets always with me, but often do not use them. I have sipped directly out of streams my whole life with no problems. And, if in a survival situation, bad water is the least of my concerns.

plant and insect identification for food - yes, but this is not a practical way to survive. You end up expanding more energy than you get in many situations. Better to have fishing gear!

Fire starter -yes, and yes I can build a fire with wet wood - done this a million times. In the old days we did not even use stoves - had to build fires in all conditions just to eat. But, be aware that gathering wood and building a fire is not always practical or even possible if you are injured. Better to just get snug in the sleeping bag and tent.

Navigate w/o a compass. This is my normal way of navigation. I dumped the compass 10 years ago and no problem. I always take the best map (most detailed) available and coverage that far exceeds my exact path. Do not use a GPS.

I admit I do get anxious when lost, but never true "panic". Luckily I have never been seriously injured, but have people in my group hurt enough that I had to go out and get a helicopter evacuation for them.

As for the two scenarios, I will have to think about them, because, honestly, I am never unprepared. I have been hurt, sprained ankle. I just soaked it in cold water, wrapped it and then walked out 8 hours. I have been more seriously hurt, but in a larger group, so my buddies helped me out. I have been lost many times, but always found myself, and it mostly worried others, not me. I have had survival training, and have done two 50-mile walk-outs without food. I think a big factor is knowing when to move, and when to hunker down, good judgement due to lots of experience.

My advise to newbies, is to not go solo until you get more experience. I climbed and backpacked 25 years before I ever went solo.
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Re: Survival / Lost, what would you do?

Postby Hobbes » Tue May 24, 2016 6:54 am

Wandering Daisy wrote:I often do not take any kind of water purification means. I have chlorine dioxide tablets always with me, but often do not use them. I have sipped directly out of streams my whole life with no problems. Navigate w/o a compass. This is my normal way of navigation. I dumped the compass 10 years ago and no problem. I always take the best map (most detailed) available and coverage that far exceeds my exact path. Do not use a GPS.


Gee, it's like a confessional where once once person admits their "sins", the floodgates open and others follow suit. Where do I begin?

I can't remember the last time I filtered water - too many years ago. I too take chlorine tablets (http://www.potableaqua.com/history/), but rarely use them. As you mention, I just dip & drink while on the go. And it doesn't have to be running water either; Bob Rockwell believes standing water is actually safer due to UV rays: (http://www.hikelight.com/18ultralightba ... tment.html)

Likewise with compass - I have good orienting ability and always seem to know where I am, so I never bring one. However, I of course bring a map(s). In fact, I'm a bit of hard copy map nut - and it has to be the 1:24k maps. I like nothing better than laying around intently studying my maps.

As for being equipped, while my younger brother and I have completely opposite styles (he never takes a 'good' map, never plans a detailed trip, hikes shorter miles, likes off trail wandering - no, he's not Rogue, but shares a lot of traits), one thing I did pick up from him is to always take your pack. That is, even if you think you're going to base camp, if you take your pack/gear, you **don't** have to return if you don't want to. (On a summit, he'll drop it slightly before, so there is that 'danger' aspect.)

Since it provides the most flexibility, it of course also provides the greatest safety in terms of having all your stuff with you. The downside - in his case - is there isn't really an itinerary (paging Mark). In my case, it's way overkill with very detailed plans, a DeLorme and periodic 2-way communication ie just cleared a pass, having lunch, stopping here for the night, etc.

As an aside, since I mention my brother now & then, can you tell the one from LA, and the other who stayed norte?

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Re: Survival / Lost, what would you do?

Postby sambieni » Tue May 24, 2016 8:51 am

Wandering Daisy wrote:First I will answer the up-front questions.

My advise to newbies, is to not go solo until you get more experience. I climbed and backpacked 25 years before I ever went solo.


Guess depends on how define newbies. First backpack ever, for sure. But unfortunately, its not always feasible to get a group together for a trip and well, you really are itching to go. Speaking for myself, I have a solo out of Red Meadows or Devils Post Pile over July 4th for a few days. I would prefer a group, but just can't make it happen. I've backpacked handful of times in my life, just never in Sierras. I really only stay on trail and no xcountry. So just going to trust things will be great. And always have proper rain / warm gear, map, headlamp, etc. I hear your thoughts. Just sadly, not always feasible.
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