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Topic: PCT hikers lost, waist deep snow!< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 02 2013, 11:02 am  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Link

Ground searches could not reach the first two:
Another story


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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 02 2013, 11:10 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Shoulder seasons have their challenges and this one has really switched strongly.

"“Arnold also wrote of having nearly run out of food after storms forced her and Margiotta to huddle under a tarp for four days — long delaying their arrival in Trout Lake.

“We finally made it to Trout Lake today and another huge storm is rolling in,” Arnold wrote. Everyone says we can't make it because of the weather situation, and to be honest it's quite terrifying,” Arnold wrote, “but I can't fathom coming this far and giving up.”"

Hope that doesn't wind up on the headstone....
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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 02 2013, 11:11 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Hoping for a good outcome.

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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 02 2013, 11:15 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(High_Sierra_Fan @ Oct. 02 2013, 8:10 am)
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Shoulder seasons have their challenges and this one has really switched strongly.

"“Everyone says we can't make it because of the weather situation, and to be honest it's quite terrifying,” Arnold wrote, “but I can't fathom coming this far and giving up.”"

Hope that doesn't wind up on the headstone....

This has been a very tough year along the PCT here in Washington.  The heavy rains and thunderstorms in the North Cascades during August and September has resulted in several major washouts.  Now with the change in temps the rain has turned to snow.

Rumi


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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 02 2013, 11:44 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

In this age of widely available Internet weather information, there is no longer any excuse on the West Coast of being surprised by foul weather for those mountain visitors that decide to take trips into the backcountry during the fall.  Yet each fall there continues to be individuals and groups that get caught by surprise (to them) making news though most of the time storms are modest so shivering and wet people usually manage to make it out on their own.  As a decades old storm powder skier during winter with sober understanding of how fragile existence is out in such conditions,   my suspicion is most such people are not winter sports enthusiasts and instead only go into mountains during the summer, so a bit of snow is novel and exciting.

At this time of year conditions may be rather balmy and idealic for days on end, even down right summer hot in our low land urban areas, but then suddenly change as fronts come down from the northwest.   Sometimes the same people have been caught before and made it out maybe enboldening them to not take such storms seriously.   And it is not because they have not been warned on enthusiast boards.    However when one looks back at weather records, every few years some rather large storms come into the Pacific Northwest in late September and into California is early October.   Up at 8000, that can mean a foot of snow and two feet plus at elevations over 10k where much summer backpacking is done.


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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 02 2013, 12:42 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

i don't know Dave. The other day we had 60* weather, and my house is at 25 feet above sea level, but while rain was predicted for the whole area, and cleared by noon, I and the whole street I live on, got 8 inches of hail and it looked like snow drifts that lasted 24 hours in the shade even though the temp dropped only to 50 overnight. Even the forecast gave no clue and no-one else in the county had anything like that so even the local news and radio didn't mention it. I got home from work and was stunned, but at least I had a house to go in. The surprises still are out there.

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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 02 2013, 1:29 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Echo @ Oct. 02 2013, 9:42 am)
QUOTE
i don't know Dave. The other day we had 60* weather, and my house is at 25 feet above sea level, but while rain was predicted for the whole area, and cleared by noon, I and the whole street I live on, got 8 inches of hail and it looked like snow drifts that lasted 24 hours in the shade even though the temp dropped only to 50 overnight. Even the forecast gave no clue and no-one else in the county had anything like that so even the local news and radio didn't mention it. I got home from work and was stunned, but at least I had a house to go in. The surprises still are out there.

That is how many that go out into such storms see it also.    If a winter storm is predicted one ought to consider the chances it could be worse and err on the safe side.

Someone may listen to forecasts that might say heavy rains up in Seattle and Portland with heavy snow in the Cascades where the center of a cold core low moves inland while down at Eureka at the fringe of the storm, a forecast is for a short period of rain and clearing.  But what happens sometimes is the cold core low, heavy air being pushed by the jetstream, moves further south than predicted and sometimes even forms a secondary post frontal trough low that develops due to going over the warmer ocean water then lasts longer further south than predicted.  

Mid winter in the Sierra such used to occur often but this last decade the NWS forecasters at least are more tentative in their forecasts.  On ethusiasts boards my warning is any time a large storm is forecast for areas north don't count on it not moving further south than the NWS originally forecasts.  Especially on those planning longer trips into the backcountry at high elevations.  

If one reads the NWS technical forecast discussions they almost always describe their forecasts with terms of confidence.   Unfortunately media weather forecasters, especially the less knowledgeable tv personalities, take those same forecasts and often leave out the relative terms simply because it tends to make them sound like they know what they are doing.


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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 02 2013, 2:40 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Being at the foot of the Cascades, I prepare for temps down to 0 year round as it's happened several times. Fall is when temps can drastically change. I've seen a day go from the 90's down to 4 degrees the same night. Don't mess with the Cascades. They aren't something to be taken lightly. Hiking in the fall is just a roll of the dice as to what you're going to get.

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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 02 2013, 3:22 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

When I first moved here my boss warned me that one July they had to air drop food to folks snow bound at Crater Lake!

Even watching the weather for Mt Hood I was surprised by this story (thinking about going to Lost Lake), I don't think until today did Mount Hood reported even 9" of snow at ski/PCT levels, even with the record breaking rain last weekend.  Mount Adams being more remote is harder to find out about.

I would guess even the rescuers were a bit surprised by the waist deep snow (not sure why they needed to be helicoptered out, though one twisted an ankle, it does not sound like they brought snowshoes). The hikers own words make one wonder , though goals often supersede judgement.  And I would expect the Goat Rockies which lie just ahead would be even more interesting,  white pass ski area is reporting 21" at its summit.


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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 02 2013, 5:40 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

dayhiker9- Choppers avoid any avalanche risk and that amount of snow in such a short period of time would leave a lot of slopes primed to slide. Given an air search to cover a lot of area with such a snow depth the chopper would already be on scene: a two-fer.
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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 02 2013, 5:59 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

For the most part, PCT thru-hikers have little access to accurate weather forecasts, especially short range forecasts, which are the ones which are reasonably accurate.  And once a thru-hiker gets to Washington, they are relatively close to their goal so something like summit fever takes hold.

I am not excusing these hikers, just noting the simple truths, so I cut them a lot of slack.

Rumi


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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 02 2013, 6:04 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Good points, though I don't think the story actually provides enough detail to tell.

QUOTE
Matt Margiotta and Kyla Arnold were hiking the Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada when they reported getting stranded about 7:30 a.m. Monday north of Trout Lake, Wash., the Skamania County Sheriff's Office said.

A Coast Guard helicopter reached the two Tuesday evening after previous attempts by searchers on the ground were unsuccessful, the sheriff's office said. Margiotta and Arnold appear to be in good health. Their ages and where they are from were not released by the sheriff's office.


It could be that it was too cloudy on Monday for helicopters, and avalanche danger is why the ground group was unsuccessful.  If that is the case the amount of snow and the avalanche danger was still a surprise? (Why go in if you know that amount of snow is there and hence the avalanche danger).  The only other possibility I can think of is they thought they might reach them somewhere closer on the trail, though I would think the two would have been able to tell them where they were.

http://www.oregonlive.com/pacific....er.html

And I suppose the ankle might be why the rescuers were helicoptered out and not the deep snow and lack of Snow Shoes.

http://www.kptv.com/story....-forest

There flight out is mentioned in the second video.  Though other reports say they simply turned back.
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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 02 2013, 6:51 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(RumiDude @ Oct. 02 2013, 5:59 pm)
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For the most part, PCT thru-hikers have little access to accurate weather forecasts, especially short range forecasts,

Yep, this is true.  I think most people are overlooking that these were thru-hikers.  They started in the California desert 2,000 miles and several months ago.  They were not casual day hikers.  They could not be expected to know what the immediate weather forecast was.  And no PCT thru-hiker would ever be carrying snowshoes.
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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 02 2013, 7:13 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

QUOTE
And no PCT thru-hiker would ever be carrying snowshoes.

They should have been that far north this time of year.


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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 02 2013, 8:09 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Montanalonewolf @ Oct. 02 2013, 4:13 pm)
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And no PCT thru-hiker would ever be carrying snowshoes.

They should have been that far north this time of year.

D seepnow in the area where these people were is rare this time of the year.  Snowshoes wouyld be overkill.

Rumi


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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 02 2013, 9:17 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

No one said they should have SS, I just mentioned it appeared that the rescuers did not, a sign that they too did not know how deep the snow was.

Their own statement shows they did have some idea of the weather, though it seems like they got hit overnight with allot more than they expected.  So I can see it both ways.  We don't know what the weather forecast was, and often snow amounts are stated as the most extreme possible so as to be almost meaningless, except in this case.  (I think my weather radio is only 1 to 2 ozs)

They were lucky to be able to call out, if they had not I am not sure they would be worrying about who to blame, as we don't know about the other two . . .
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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 02 2013, 9:59 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

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Snowshoes wouyld be overkill.

Obviously not or they wouldn't be in trouble.

I lived on the west slope of the Cascades for some 10 years and spent a lot of time in those mountains, quite often solo in winter. I usually strapped snowshoes to my pack starting in September even when forecasts were for clear. Over-prepared? Maybe but I always made my own way out.


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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 02 2013, 10:17 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Montanalonewolf @ Oct. 02 2013, 6:59 pm)
QUOTE
QUOTE
Snowshoes wouyld be overkill.

Obviously not or they wouldn't be in trouble.

I lived on the west slope of the Cascades for some 10 years and spent a lot of time in those mountains, quite often solo in winter. I usually strapped snowshoes to my pack starting in September even when forecasts were for clear. Over-prepared? Maybe but I always made my own way out.

Did you also take condoms?  

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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 02 2013, 10:22 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(RumiDude @ Oct. 02 2013, 8:17 pm)
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Did you also take condoms?  

Rumi

Yep. Due to their stretchability, they make good emergency water containers and can hold a few liters.

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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 02 2013, 11:26 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Montanalonewolf @ Oct. 02 2013, 7:22 pm)
QUOTE

(RumiDude @ Oct. 02 2013, 8:17 pm)
QUOTE
Did you also take condoms?  

Rumi

Yep. Due to their stretchability, they make good emergency water containers and can hold a few liters.

Even in the Cascades where water is plentiful?

Well, I know hundreds of hikers/backpackers in Washington and NONE of them carry snowhoes in September or early October.  I don't fault these thru-hikers for not carrying snowshoes.

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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 03 2013, 12:39 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(RumiDude @ Oct. 02 2013, 9:26 pm)
QUOTE

(Montanalonewolf @ Oct. 02 2013, 7:22 pm)
QUOTE

(RumiDude @ Oct. 02 2013, 8:17 pm)
QUOTE
Did you also take condoms?  

Rumi

Yep. Due to their stretchability, they make good emergency water containers and can hold a few liters.

Even in the Cascades where water is plentiful?

Well, I know hundreds of hikers/backpackers in Washington and NONE of them carry snowhoes in September or early October.  I don't fault these thru-hikers for not carrying snowshoes.

Rumi

Or in CO, WY, or MT.

Nobody carries 'shoes that early or are they even needed until it gets to 2-3 ' and they didn't get nearly that much !

But the main problem with thru hikers is their "fast and light" approach.

QUOTE
Arnold also wrote of having nearly run out of food after storms forced her and Margiotta to huddle under a tarp for four days


Thru hikers tend to only carry a few days of food at a time and rely on getting to regular resupply points every few days in good conditions.

I've sat "huddled in my tent" for many more days than that, on my thru trips in The Wind's, while snow and hail piled up to ~1' on multiple trips in July. But at least on my trips, I'm self sufficient for at least 3-4 weeks not days.


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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 03 2013, 6:47 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

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Nobody carries 'shoes that early or are they even needed until it gets to 2-3 ' and they didn't get nearly that much !

That "Cascade Concrete" is nearly impossible to slog through after 12" or so. Very tiring.
But I tend to over-prepare since I've taken hardcore survival courses. Survival in harsh conditions isn't nearly as romantic or exciting as the media implies. It sucks royally and I don't want to have to do it for real.

To paraphrase your the comment "Air is cheap, deco chambers aren't." in that other thread... snowshoes are cheap. Helicopter rescues aren't.


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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 03 2013, 11:01 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

The one thing that struck me more was how many hikers became lost once the trail was snow covered, seems like u need to plan for that at least, GPS, Good map (and navigation skills) or some sort of plan for that (like camp near a logging road).

It was Oct 20th that the Donner Party got stuck.
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(Montanalonewolf @ Oct. 03 2013, 3:47 am)
QUOTE
QUOTE
Nobody carries 'shoes that early or are they even needed until it gets to 2-3 ' and they didn't get nearly that much !

That "Cascade Concrete" is nearly impossible to slog through after 12" or so. Very tiring.
But I tend to over-prepare since I've taken hardcore survival courses. Survival in harsh conditions isn't nearly as romantic or exciting as the media implies. It sucks royally and I don't want to have to do it for real.

+1

As soon as 12 inches hits the ground in the Cascades, I strap my snowshoes on my pack.


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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 03 2013, 11:14 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

The other aspect is that at least some of those people weren't "caught" by the storm, they walked back OUT into it.

At which point, regardless of the calendar, not carrying adequate gear, including snowshoes, is moronic.
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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 03 2013, 11:23 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

By not "giving up" these hikers that knowingly went back out into adverse conditions put every member of the SAR response in danger. For that they need to pay big bucks IMO. I think I was about 7 or 8 when I came to terms with the fact the world doesn't revolve around me. The fact so many adults can't come to the same conclusion in this day and age demostrates how lost we are in this age of self absorbed addiction to consumption and personal indulgence.

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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 03 2013, 11:54 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Individuals often have their judgement clouded by their goal.  As I mentioned before, this situation is akin to "summit fever" for climbers.  They have already hiked over 2000 miles having to "MacGyver" solutions to many situations.  These people have most likely been challenged by snow and high volume streams in the Sierra. They aren't staring at their gear closet contemplating if they should take this or that before they jump in the car and drive to the trail head.

So yea, I think applying a term like "moronic" to them is a bit harsh.  We romanticiize about Colin Fletcher's "walk through time", John Muir's many hiking exploits, and explorers like the James Christie's party in the Press Expedition, but somehow these PCT thru-hikers are foolish rather than bold and determined.  I wanna give these hikers some credit and cut them some slack.

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(RumiDude @ Oct. 03 2013, 11:54 am)
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I wanna give these hikers some credit and cut them some slack.

Rumi

Did these people knowingly go out into a BAD FORECAST or not? If they did they deserve no slack as "fever" of any kind is no excuse IMO. If they just got caught up in a surprise storm I'm with you Rumi, otherwise will have to respectfully but adamantly disagree. To leave common sense at the trailhead after 2K miles will never garner understanding let alone respect from me.

Having sheparded a few self absorbed and indulgent folks out of the Wilderness over the years myself I have no sympathy for those that put themselves above those charged with keeping them safe.


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(double cabin @ Oct. 03 2013, 9:18 am)
QUOTE

(RumiDude @ Oct. 03 2013, 11:54 am)
QUOTE
I wanna give these hikers some credit and cut them some slack.

Rumi

Did these people knowingly go out into a BAD FORECAST or not? If they did they deserve no slack as "fever" of any kind is no excuse IMO. If they just got caught up in a surprise storm I'm with you Rumi, otherwise will have to respectfully but adamantly disagree. To leave common sense at the trailhead after 2K miles will never garner understanding let alone respect from me.

Having sheparded a few self absorbed and indulgent folks out of the Wilderness over the years myself I have no sympathy for those that put themselves above those charged with keeping them safe.

Of course NOBODY goes out thinking they aren't going to make it unless they are suicidal. From our keyboards it is easy to deride them as self absorbed indulgent individuals.

I am quite aware of the heuristics involved in such decisions as they made.  That is why I think your judgement is wrongheaded.  That is why I cut them some slack.  In my mind it is one thing to say it wouyld have been wiser if they had not gone out, but quite a different thing to say they were moronic, self absorbed, and indulgent.

Rumi


--------------
“This is my Indian summer ... I'm far more dangerous now, because I don't care at all.”
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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 03 2013, 1:00 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

They'd barely made it out in the early storm, having been storm bound and nearly running out of food for four days, then they went BACK OUT into more of it: still without adequate gear.

"moronic" is me being kind.

""“Arnold also wrote of having nearly run out of food after storms forced her and Margiotta to huddle under a tarp for four days — long delaying their arrival in Trout Lake.

“We finally made it to Trout Lake today and another huge storm is rolling in,” Arnold wrote. Everyone says we can't make it because of the weather situation, and to be honest it's quite terrifying,” Arnold wrote, “but I can't fathom coming this far and giving up.”""

There's no armchair "theory" at play there: they were already IN storms so it's hardly like a "maybe" late season forecast was all they had to gauge.
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