Staying alive in the snow

Discussion about winter adventure sports in the Sierra Nevada mountains including but not limited to; winter backpacking and camping, mountaineering, downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, etc.
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balzaccom
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Staying alive in the snow

Post by balzaccom » Wed Jan 09, 2019 2:11 pm

We saw this story in the Sierra Sun new outlet. Pretty interesting story about how Wendell Murdock stayed alive in the wilderness overnight during a blizzard. It also got our attention that Mr. Murdock is 80 years old and has a nine year-old son. And his preparation for his hike included a few clothing items we would have done differently. And his use of a brand new GPS app on his phone for navigation apparently didn't help him much...

https://www.sierrasun.com/news/local/th ... ake-tahoe/


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TahoeJeff
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Re: Staying alive in the snow

Post by TahoeJeff » Wed Jan 09, 2019 5:11 pm

Literally in my back yard. Old guy is lucky to be alive...
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Re: Staying alive in the snow

Post by SSSdave » Wed Jan 09, 2019 7:16 pm

Will give him a lot of credit for the effort. 80 yo with 9 year old son...interesting?

Apparently was not aware of the seriousness of the forecast for that Sunday night storm. Wondering where he was in that area that he just didn't walk out by simply traversing with his snowshoes across the slopes as roads would not have been that far. May not have had much familiarity with the general topography and instead relied on that gps phone. As it was he probably used as much effort walking back and forth in the snow. And why dog biscuits for food? Also did he have mittens, a firestarter lighter, and a flashlight? Probably never know as it is likely embarrassing.

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bobby49
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Re: Staying alive in the snow

Post by bobby49 » Wed Jan 09, 2019 8:42 pm

In my opinion, a phone with GPS works just good enough to get you into trouble, but not good enough to keep you out of trouble. Most of the weakness is in the battery.

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Re: Staying alive in the snow

Post by Wandering Daisy » Thu Jan 10, 2019 12:49 pm

I think this is also a case of becoming lax in safety in your home turf. We forget that when just going out for a little hike near home we need to prepare as we do for any day-hike in the wilderness. It is a good reminder for all of us. Everyone needs to ask themselves, every time they go out, "do I have enough with me to survive overnight if things do not go right?" He obviously did have the outdoor skills to stay alive, but he was very lucky too. Also, alone, in winter, to test out a gizmo that you have not used before even when you need to trust it-- probably not the smartest decision.

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AlmostThere
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Re: Staying alive in the snow

Post by AlmostThere » Fri Jan 11, 2019 9:00 am

Phone GPS are more prone to mistakes - the software is not as good as a standalone GPS. A SAR buddy ran some trials with friends and the phone users following their app got literally off in the bushes.

And jeans! Wow. Having quite a few snowshoe trips with hiking groups, I have observed that jeans are the last thing you want.

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Re: Staying alive in the snow

Post by bobby49 » Fri Jan 11, 2019 11:06 am

AlmostThere wrote:
Fri Jan 11, 2019 9:00 am
Phone GPS are more prone to mistakes - the software is not as good as a standalone GPS. A SAR buddy ran some trials with friends and the phone users following their app got literally off in the bushes.

And jeans! Wow. Having quite a few snowshoe trips with hiking groups, I have observed that jeans are the last thing you want.
The technical term for a GPS mistake is a blunder. It tends to happen when there is a very bad view of the sky and the satellites are lined up badly. Another cause is when there is multipath interference, like with satellite signals bouncing around off rock cliffs. As a result of these GPS signal problems, the receiver can show your apparent position to be a long way from your actual position. If I ever see screwy results like that, I stop what I'm doing. I try to move slightly to some spot with a clearer view of the sky. Besides, as the satellites change in the sky, the problem might get better or get worse. If I just sit and watch it for a few minutes, it will become more apparent what the truth is. Also, a phone has the cheapest form of GPS antenna. Substantial dedicated GPS receivers tend to have a much better antenna.

Jeans? Now we are back to the old axiom: Cotton Kills.

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Re: Staying alive in the snow

Post by Wandering Daisy » Fri Jan 11, 2019 3:00 pm

I am curious; how cold can a phone GPS get and still work? I know my camera quits working when it gets only a little below freezing. It is one thing keeping a camera in your inside pocket and quickly taking it out for a photo, another if you have your phone out all the time to navigate.

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bobby49
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Re: Staying alive in the snow

Post by bobby49 » Fri Jan 11, 2019 4:46 pm

In some cases, it is the phone that quits first. In some cases, it is the battery that quits first. In some cases, it is the screen that quits first.

I've been a GPS user since 1995, and I have never had any dedicated receiver that quit from any cold-related problem. I've had them down to about minus 10F. The only problem with it at minus 10F was that my fingers were too cold to push the buttons properly.

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Re: Staying alive in the snow

Post by lvray » Wed Jan 16, 2019 12:09 am

Wandering Daisy wrote:
Fri Jan 11, 2019 3:00 pm
I am curious; how cold can a phone GPS get and still work? I know my camera quits working when it gets only a little below freezing. It is one thing keeping a camera in your inside pocket and quickly taking it out for a photo, another if you have your phone out all the time to navigate.
We have used our GPS on our iphone phone in near 0 temps for prolonged periods without issue, though we keep it warm at night. However, Apple says the their devices work best with temps 32-95 F. These are probably fairly conservative #s.
https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201678

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