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Author Topic: Updates??- 2 climbers, 2 campers overdue...Rainier  (Read 34014 times)
JibberD
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Updates??- 2 climbers, 2 campers overdue...Rainier
« on: 01/20/12, 03:23 PM »

Has anyone heard an outcome to these?

Seattle Times: 2 climbers, 2 campers overdue on Mount Rainier
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-Doug O
Amar Andalkar
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Re: Updates??- 2 climbers, 2 campers overdue...Rainier
« Reply #1 on: 01/20/12, 03:30 PM »

Not looking good at all, since they were not found in the hut at Camp Muir during a search yesterday. These two stories from the News Tribune have the most info:

http://blog.thenewstribune.com/adventure/2012/01/19/10-highly-skilled-mountaineers-searching-rainier-for-missing-parties/

http://blog.thenewstribune.com/adventure/2012/01/20/morning-search-for-4-stranded-on-rainier-unsuccessful-weather-suspends-search/

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JibberD
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Re: Updates??- 2 climbers, 2 campers overdue...Rainier
« Reply #2 on: 01/20/12, 03:39 PM »


Arghh
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Chuck C
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Re: Updates??- 2 climbers, 2 campers overdue...Rainier
« Reply #3 on: 01/20/12, 03:50 PM »

Is that their car being plowed around at the Paradise lot?  That looks really depressing.
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Amar Andalkar
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Re: Updates??- 2 climbers, 2 campers overdue...Rainier
« Reply #4 on: 01/20/12, 04:13 PM »

Is that their car being plowed around at the Paradise lot? That looks really depressing.

The car has been there since just after 10am on Friday, January 13 (it is not parked in the proper overnight parking area). So based on various news stories, that could be the vehicle of Mark Vucich and Michelle Trojanowski, the hikers who departed on Friday to camp on the Muir Snowfield. But other stories state that they departed on Thursday, so ??. No departure date has been given for the two missing unnamed climbers in whatever new stories I looked at via Google search.

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Edgesport
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Re: Updates??- 2 climbers, 2 campers overdue...Rainier
« Reply #5 on: 01/20/12, 04:37 PM »

I just finished Laurence Gonzales's book Deep Survival for the second time. He gives the hard science and detailed survival stories on how and why people survive. Gives me a lot of hope these folks will make it through this.
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mreid
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Re: Updates??- 2 climbers, 2 campers overdue...Rainier
« Reply #6 on: 01/20/12, 05:39 PM »

http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/weather-blocks-search-overdue-mt-rainier-15408064

More limited searches didn't find anything today.
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Edgesport
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Re: Updates??- 2 climbers, 2 campers overdue...Rainier
« Reply #7 on: 01/23/12, 09:02 PM »

Wow, they flew a chinook around up there today and none of the campers came out.  Those poor souls.
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Edgesport
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Re: Updates??- 2 climbers, 2 campers overdue...Rainier
« Reply #8 on: 01/24/12, 07:09 PM »

Gives details of the search yesterday - http://www.kplr11.com/news/nationworld/kcpq-initial-search-for-4-overdue-campers-climbers-on-mount-rainier-unsuccessful-20120119,0,4213726.story
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Dr. Telemark
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Re: Updates??- 2 climbers, 2 campers overdue...Rainier
« Reply #9 on: 01/25/12, 09:59 PM »

The two lessons I came away with from the same book (Deep Survival), is that nature plays no favorites and if you intentionally push the envelope, she will hammer you. The weekend these 4 chose to climb to Muir was bitter cold and harsh weather (-7 at Muir with 25-40mph winds). I think that is a set up for disaster.

Dr. Telemark


I just finished Laurence Gonzales's book Deep Survival for the second time. He gives the hard science and detailed survival stories on how and why people survive. Gives me a lot of hope these folks will make it through this.
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Edgesport
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Re: Updates??- 2 climbers, 2 campers overdue...Rainier
« Reply #10 on: 01/26/12, 09:29 PM »

The weekend these 4 chose to climb to Muir was bitter cold and harsh weather (-7 at Muir with 25-40mph winds). I think that is a set up for disaster.
Can anyone find a weather forecast for the 12th through the 16th? I would like to know what the parties were reading before they headed up. What did they interpret incorrectly? Mark Vucich is reported as a guide in training. If that is true it makes it all the more bizarre. The other two that planned on summiting that weekend!

It was reported that the search aircraft saw no body heat and I read somewhere that the ground crew found some clues to indicate where the campers might be but it did not say what those clues were. Did the ground crews have dogs?
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Re: Updates??- 2 climbers, 2 campers overdue...Rainier
« Reply #11 on: 01/26/12, 09:59 PM »

No dogs were used that I know of. Weather made search and travel very difficult in the days immediately following the parties' disappearance. From what little I know about dog teams, dogs would have been useless. And a liability. More than 7 feet of snow has fallen since the teams went missing, with high winds during most of that time.

The two climbers were experienced. The two campers were just that- a pair of folks out for some winter camping. The story is very sad, no matter what the forecast was. Personally, I sometimes enjoy going out with projected bad weather. If only because it's nice to occasionally tap into the part of oneself that makes a decision to turn around. Opportunities for humility should be sought out, not avoided. It's also beneficial to experience things with one's own eyes. I'm not saying or implying that anybody posting here feels any differently. I just want to express the deep sadness I feel for those 4 people and the families and friends who love them.
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Amar Andalkar
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Re: Updates??- 2 climbers, 2 campers overdue...Rainier
« Reply #12 on: 01/27/12, 11:26 AM »

Can anyone find a weather forecast for the 12th through the 16th? I would like to know what the parties were reading before they headed up. What did they interpret incorrectly? Mark Vucich is reported as a guide in training. If that is true it makes it all the more bizarre. The other two that planned on summiting that weekend!

Well, here are the relevant forecasts.

The Rainier forecast as of January 13 which was available to the two campers (who apparently parked their car at Paradise at 10am on January 13 and intended to return by January 15) and the two climbers also:

 MOUNT RAINIER RECREATIONAL FORECAST
 NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SEATTLE WA
 400 AM PST FRI JAN 13 2012
 
 .SYNOPSIS...AN UPPER LEVEL RIDGE WILL REMAIN OVER WESTERN WASHINGTON
 TODAY...WITH MOSTLY SUNNY SKIES. A COLD FRONT WILL APPROACH THE
 REGION FROM THE NORTHWEST TONIGHT WITH RAIN DEVELOPING OVER THE
 NORTH AFTER MIDNIGHT. THE COLD FRONT WILL BRING LIGHT RAIN AND SNOW
 TO THE PARK SATURDAY MORNING INTO SATURDAY AFTERNOON...WITH
 SCATTERED SHOWERS DEVELOPING BEHIND THE COLD FRONT LATE SATURDAY
 AFTERNOON. SCATTERED SNOW SHOWERS WILL CONTINUE SATURDAY NIGHT AND
 SUNDAY AS THE COLD UPPER LEVEL TROUGH OVER THE REGION LOWERS THE
 SNOW LEVEL TO BELOW 500 FEET. COOL UNSETTLED WEATHER WILL CONTINUE
 NEXT WEEK WITH A POSSIBILITY OF LOWLAND SNOW AT TIMES.
 
 .FRIDAY...MOSTLY SUNNY. FREEZING LEVEL 6500 FEET.
 .FRIDAY NIGHT...MOSTLY CLOUDY. FREEZING LEVEL 7000 FEET.
 .SATURDAY...RAIN AND SNOW CHANGING TO SHOWERS. SNOW LEVEL 3000 FEET.
 .SATURDAY NIGHT...SNOW SHOWERS LIKELY.
 .SUNDAY...SNOW SHOWERS LIKELY.
 
 TEMPERATURE AND WIND FORECASTS FOR SELECTED LOCATIONS.
 
FRI FRI SAT SAT SUN
NIGHT NIGHT
 
 SUMMIT (14411 FT) 8 6 -2 -24 -26
W 48 W 71 W 91 W 48 W 30
 
 CAMP MUIR(10188 FT) 24 23 5 -4 -4
W 30 W 57 W 52 W 40 W 25
 
 PARADISE (5420 FT) 43 29 35 19 22
W 4 W 11 SW 17 SW 10 SW 8
 
 LONGMIRE (2700 FT) 41 31 36 23 26
W 2 NW 8 SW 14 SW 10 SW 8
 
 ++ TEMPERATURES AND WIND FOR THE SUMMIT AND CAMP MUIR ARE AVERAGE
CONDITIONS EXPECTED IN THE FREE AIR AT THOSE ELEVATIONS.
 ++ TEMPERATURES FOR PARADISE AND LONGMIRE ARE THE EXPECTED HIGHS AND
LOWS. WIND IS THE AVERAGE WIND EXPECTED DURING THAT PERIOD.
 
 .EXTENDED FORECAST...
 
 .SUNDAY NIGHT...SNOW SHOWERS.
 .MARTIN LUTHER KING JR DAY THROUGH TUESDAY...SNOW SHOWERS LIKELY.
 .TUESDAY NIGHT...SNOW SHOWERS LIKELY.
 .WEDNESDAY THROUGH THURSDAY...SHOWERS LIKELY. SNOW LEVEL
 2000 FEET.



The Rainier forecast as of January 14 which may have been available to the two climbers, who intended to return by January 16:

 MOUNT RAINIER RECREATIONAL FORECAST
 NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SEATTLE WA
 425 AM PST SAT JAN 14 2012
 
 .SYNOPSIS...A COLD FRONT WILL MOVE THROUGH WESTERN WASHINGTON THIS
 MORNING. BEHIND THE FRONT A COOL AIR MASS WILL MOVE INTO WESTERN
 WASHINGTON LOWERING THE SNOW LEVELS DOWN TO NEAR THE SURFACE. THE
 COOL AIR MASS WILL REMAIN IN PLACE THROUGH MONDAY KEEPING SNOW
 SHOWERS IN THE FORECAST.

 ...WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY IN EFFECT UNTIL 10 PM PST THIS
 EVENING...
 
 .SATURDAY...SNOW CHANGING TO SNOW SHOWERS IN THE LATE MORNING.
 SNOW LEVEL 3000 FEET LOWERING DOWN TO THE SURFACE IN THE AFTERNOON.
 NEW SNOW ACCUMULATION 3 TO 6 INCHES.
 .SATURDAY NIGHT...SNOW SHOWERS. NEW SNOW ACCUMULATION 2 TO 4 INCHES.
 .SUNDAY...SNOW SHOWERS.
 .SUNDAY NIGHT...SNOW SHOWERS LIKELY.
 .MARTIN LUTHER KING JR DAY...SNOW SHOWERS LIKELY.
 
 TEMPERATURE AND WIND FORECASTS FOR SELECTED LOCATIONS.
 
SAT SAT SUN SUN MON
NIGHT NIGHT
 
 SUMMIT (14411 FT) -1 -24 -26 -25 -21
W 100 W 60 W 40 NW 45 W 70
 
 CAMP MUIR(10188 FT) 5 -4 -4 -7 -3
W 75 W 45 W 35 W 45 W 60
 
 PARADISE (5420 FT) 29 15 21 10 19
W 15 SW 10 W 5 W 5 W 10
 
 LONGMIRE (2700 FT) 31 19 24 17 23
CALM CALM CALM CALM CALM
 
 ++ TEMPERATURES AND WIND FOR THE SUMMIT AND CAMP MUIR ARE AVERAGE
CONDITIONS EXPECTED IN THE FREE AIR AT THOSE ELEVATIONS.
 ++ TEMPERATURES FOR PARADISE AND LONGMIRE ARE THE EXPECTED HIGHS AND
LOWS. WIND IS THE AVERAGE WIND EXPECTED DURING THAT PERIOD.
 
 .EXTENDED FORECAST...
 
 .MONDAY NIGHT AND TUESDAY...SNOW SHOWERS LIKELY.
 .TUESDAY NIGHT...SNOW SHOWERS LIKELY.
 .WEDNESDAY...SHOWERS LIKELY. SNOW LEVEL 1500 FEET.
 .WEDNESDAY NIGHT THROUGH FRIDAY...SHOWERS LIKELY. SNOW LEVEL
 3000 FEET.


Given the forecasts it is very hard to avoid being judgmental, there is little room to incorrectly interpret anything. It appears to be an unreasonable decision to begin a multiday Rainier summit attempt under these forecast conditions of wind and temperature at 14000 ft on Sunday-Monday, or choose to go "snow camping" for 3 days on the Muir Snowfield given the 10000 ft forecast for Saturday-Sunday.

That's assuming that they looked at the Rainier forecast at all -- but who knows if they relied only on TV weather, or perhaps the NWS point forecasts (which are often highly erroneous for mountainous areas, since they are not intended or designed as a mountain forecast, and generally grossly under-forecast the winds and over-forecast the snowfall). But all forecasts from all sources, TV or otherwise, were very poor and heading farther downhill fast, with an extended period of stormy weather starting on January 14 and continuing for many days. Both parties apparently chose to ascend into extremely dangerous incoming weather which was predicted to worsen throughout the duration of their trips.

This happens and has happened all too frequently with parties who fly to Rainier from distant locations (for these parties San Diego, Atlanta, and Korea). Apparently the money already invested in plane tickets, plus vacation time and other preparation, affects the judgment and risk tolerance of some of these parties, leading them to ascend into much riskier weather forecasts than local parties would -- this is simply an observational truth based on many previous incidents at Rainier and Hood. Locals make the same mistake too, but those who fly here make it much more often.

It is really sad that these four remain missing and are now presumed dead. But just because it's so sad, doesn't mean that both parties are without fault and are beyond criticism. They exhibited some very poor judgment in choosing to embark on their trips at all when they did, and have apparently paid the ultimate price for that. As usual, their decisions have led to large numbers of search-and-rescue personnel putting themselves in considerable danger in miserable weather conditions trying to find and save them. Really unfortunate that this harsh lesson had to be delivered by the Mountain once again, a lesson to be heeded by everyone going up there, and one which I hope I've learned from my own past mistakes and those of others.


Edited to rephrase the first paragraph of my comments, per the discussion later on in this thread.
« Last Edit: 01/29/12, 04:03 PM by Amar Andalkar » Logged

haggis
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Re: Updates??- 2 climbers, 2 campers overdue...Rainier
« Reply #13 on: 01/27/12, 01:35 PM »

I remember reading that forecast for the 14th and calculating which wind chill was worst on the summit, 100mph winds and -1F or 60mph and -24F.  The 100mph didn't compute on some scales as the max was 60mph!  I can onlty imagine how the families feel not knowing any further details.
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Edgesport
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Re: Updates??- 2 climbers, 2 campers overdue...Rainier
« Reply #14 on: 01/27/12, 07:34 PM »

Thank you Amar
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Re: Updates??- 2 climbers, 2 campers overdue...Rainier
« Reply #15 on: 01/27/12, 10:11 PM »

My biggest fear climbing and skiing in the mountains is not injury, maiming, or death.  It's the eventual thread that calls me out on my poor judgment.  That and the negative comments on the King 5 website bitching about how much I cost Joe and Jane Fatrolls in my rescue effort.

As alpinists, we're all aware of the risks, and from time to time we push the envelopeand the mountains put the smackdown on us.  If we make it out, we're lauded for keeping our head together, finding solutions that led to our survival.  But we all know that it could have gone the other way, inspiring the inevitable armchairing.  I've been guilty of second-guessing victims online or amongst friends, so I try to be conscious of keeping it to myself. 

Poor judgment or not, take from this event what you will.  As competent mountaineers, we can individually look at the elements that led to this tragic accident and come to our own conclusion without calling the deceased out publicly.
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kneel turner
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Re: Updates??- 2 climbers, 2 campers overdue...Rainier
« Reply #16 on: 01/27/12, 10:19 PM »

Very well said Ryan and jwplotz.
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Amar Andalkar
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Re: Updates??- 2 climbers, 2 campers overdue...Rainier
« Reply #17 on: 01/28/12, 12:03 AM »

My biggest fear climbing and skiing in the mountains is not injury, maiming, or death. It's the eventual thread that calls me out on my poor judgment. That and the negative comments on the King 5 website bitching about how much I cost Joe and Jane Fatrolls in my rescue effort.

As alpinists, we're all aware of the risks, and from time to time we push the envelopeand the mountains put the smackdown on us. If we make it out, we're lauded for keeping our head together, finding solutions that led to our survival. But we all know that it could have gone the other way, inspiring the inevitable armchairing. I've been guilty of second-guessing victims online or amongst friends, so I try to be conscious of keeping it to myself.

Poor judgment or not, take from this event what you will. As competent mountaineers, we can individually look at the elements that led to this tragic accident and come to our own conclusion without calling the deceased out publicly.

Sorry, John, but I disagree with most of what you've written here.

If, as is perhaps likely, I someday become incapacitated or meet my end in the mountains due to accident, happenstance, and/or my own poor judgment, then I'd welcome well-considered discussion and criticism of my actions, whether I'm alive or dead. I have no fear whatsoever of that -- although invariably and unfortunately, some large fraction of the discussion and criticism (especially in comments on news website stories) may be totally erroneous and not well-considered at all, largely made by those with no concept of what mountaineering or climbing involves. But analysis and criticism of my actions from those with knowledge and experience in my chosen activities (skiing, mountaineering, whatever) is not something that I would fear or avoid. If I live through whatever that future situation may be, I'd probably be the first to turn the glaring light of criticism towards my own actions, most likely in a public forum as with the TR you link to.

I've also never understood why some people think that those who die should suddenly become immune to criticism or negative comment after their passing. I have many faults -- and they won't instantly and retroactively disappear once I die (although hopefully I'll continue to work on improving those areas while I'm still alive) -- so I wouldn't want any rosy false picture presented of me or my actions afterwards.

I knew while I was writing my post above (everything after merely copying the Rainier forecasts) that some would find what I wrote too judgmental, especially since I've come close to meeting my end in the mountains more than once already. But there are lessons in what happened to the 4 who are missing on Rainier that need to be pointed out, because clearly these lessons are not obvious to everybody, even those of us who may be alpinists or competent mountaineers and may be aware of the risks.

If even one person takes it to heart to not ascend into a very poor, downward-trending forecast on Rainier and lives because of that, then the criticism and comments above will have served a positive purpose. Or if even one person properly uses the NWS Mount Rainier recreational forecast (with an accurate picture of high winds) instead of the ridiculous and inaccurate NWS point forecasts (which always have mountain winds which are too low), and thus saves their own life instead of climbing into a predictable disaster, then the comments above will have also served a positive purpose.

Refraining from well-considered analysis and criticism of an incident serves no constructive purpose, and is just hiding our heads in the sand.

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markharf
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Re: Updates??- 2 climbers, 2 campers overdue...Rainier
« Reply #18 on: 01/28/12, 12:51 AM »

I'm more concerned about the effects on survivors: friends, family, children. 

Criticism about decisions made and paths chosen often gets ruthless, even brutal.  I try to bear in mind the effect that my words might have on, say, kids, husbands, wives, parents or close friends who are perhaps already devastated.  I find it thoroughly inconsiderate to start piling on so quickly. 

Mark



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Re: Updates??- 2 climbers, 2 campers overdue...Rainier
« Reply #19 on: 01/28/12, 08:39 AM »

I'm more concerned about the effects on survivors: friends, family, children.

This pretty much sums up where I am on this type of thing -- it's not a matter of immunity to criticism, but a matter of respect for the fallen and their family. In the weeks after Monika's accident last year the number of visits to the forum had a huge spike, since it was probably the best place to get the latest information. Friends and family, craving every little detail or clinging to a scrap of hope, are going to read over our every word on the subject. It's hard enough to handle the grief without having to filter out the harsh criticism that this kind of analysis can quickly become.
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Amar Andalkar
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Re: Updates??- 2 climbers, 2 campers overdue...Rainier
« Reply #20 on: 01/28/12, 11:03 AM »

Well, that's the dilemma, isn't it: if you hold back on any analysis or criticism of an incident out of respect for family and friends, then you may lose the chance to publicize important lessons which could be learned from the incident. If you wait until after a lengthy grieving period has passed (months, a year?) then the incident has faded from public view, and the important lessons will not be widely heard even if presented then. For the first time in my life, I dealt with the death of two close friends in the mountains within the past year, so I'm certainly much more sensitive to the issues regarding grief of family and friends than I was before. But even more so after those two fatal accidents last year, I don't think that family and friends should be shielded from the truth, or that public discussion of an incident should be avoided.

If their loved ones died in an unavoidable freak accident, then that is very important to know, and the family and friends always get told about that by rescuers -- but on the other hand, if their loved ones used poor judgment which was the primary contributor to and cause of the accident, then the rescuers and family liaisons scrupulously avoid any mention of that "out of respect". So the family and friends are left with a false, positively-skewed picture of what actually transpired in those cases, which in the long run does them a great disservice.

Not all incidents have important lessons to be learned -- some really are primarily freak accidents where the only thing that would have saved someone is random chance or staying home. But other incidents are not accidents at all, and may have been easily avoidable or preventable, in which case important lessons are there to be learned and the details should be exposed to public view. I think that in those types of incidents, facts should be publicized quickly if they are known, while the issue is still hot and people are actually listening and might possibly learn from it. It may make the grief more difficult temporarily for family and friends, but I'm certain that it is the right thing to do. Obviously, many others disagree with me strongly on this issue, and prefer to keep the frank discussions hidden and the lessons unpublicized.

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markharf
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Re: Updates??- 2 climbers, 2 campers overdue...Rainier
« Reply #21 on: 01/28/12, 11:39 AM »

We are people who routinely indulge in recreational activities which are, on the evidence, risky.  We've all had friends--sometimes close friends--die in the mountains, often doing more or less what we do every weekend.  We've discussed the embedded issues a lot, year after year.  In a very important sense, we're ready.

Friends and family, particularly young children, are not so ready.  They haven't spent the time we have experimenting with the odds, discussing the possibilities, adjusting to what might happen.  This makes them far more vulnerable than you, I, or the average participant here.  They're even more vulnerable--far, far more vulnerable--in the days and weeks immediately following a death. 

There's a strong case to be made here for seeing things from their point of view, not ours.  I just edited out a rather snotty paragraph I'd written about this being the essence of adulthood, but the essential point remains. 

Mark
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BillK
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Re: Updates??- 2 climbers, 2 campers overdue...Rainier
« Reply #22 on: 01/28/12, 02:04 PM »

No one forces these people to read this stuff.  Perhaps they are responsible for, and capable of, making the decisions about what they care to read when they are bereaved?  It's not like posters are getting in their face and expressing their opinions...people have a choice as to what they read.  That being said, self-editing is not a bad thing, nor is considering how others may feel. 
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Re: Updates??- 2 climbers, 2 campers overdue...Rainier
« Reply #23 on: 01/28/12, 03:29 PM »

my best friend was killed in an avoidable snow accident and i'm positive he will want others to not make his deadly mistake. helping others seems to be the tay mantra in times of good and bad, amar is a huge help to this community.
best of luck to the masses
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Re: Updates??- 2 climbers, 2 campers overdue...Rainier
« Reply #24 on: 01/28/12, 06:52 PM »

Quote
It's hard enough to handle the grief without having to filter out the harsh criticism that this kind of analysis can quickly become.

What I don't understand is why the criticism has to be so harsh? The more awareness created about preventing mountain accidents the better. I don't see anything wrong with putting out there the truth as long as its tactfully done. Why the critique needs to turn an ugly condescending head is beyond me.

Everything about mountaineering and backcountry skiing involves risks, of which not everyone who participates may be aware of, this doesn't make them irresponsible, just that sometimes, there is a steep learning curve. If I die on the mountain put it out there, but do it tactfully... my family will find closure knowing the truth. No closure can be found with questions unanswered, its obvious a mistake was made. I think more should be made public about destination mountaineering affecting decision making... (IMO a factor at play here)

My deepest wishes of survival to the missing on Rainier.
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Randy
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Re: Updates??- 2 climbers, 2 campers overdue...Rainier
« Reply #25 on: 01/28/12, 07:33 PM »

I think it is possible to provide useful and accurate insight into mistakes made while also being respectful to folks that have made those mistakes -- whether or not those mistakes were fatal or not.   This does require extra effort than the standard armchair quarterbacking -- but isn't that what we should be doing anyway on this board?    Describing choices made as mistakes, rather than labeling the persons that made those choices is a good first step.

Overall I think the folks posting on on T-A-Y do carefully choose their words and avoid ill considered posts. 

It has been a difficult season at Mt Rainier,   I know that the fatality in late December has a big impact on the morale of the rangers, the murder of Margaret Anderson was a huge blow and now these four lost people.   At least they did find that lost snowshoer alive -- one bright spot in an otherwise bleak season at the park.


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vogtski
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Re: Updates??- 2 climbers, 2 campers overdue...Rainier
« Reply #26 on: 01/28/12, 08:06 PM »

The Park is soliciting reports for evidence such as gear; details at:
http://blog.thenewstribune.com/adventure/2012/01/28/5846/
I've heard rumors there was no evidence either party ever reached the Muir shelter?
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Amar Andalkar
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Re: Updates??- 2 climbers, 2 campers overdue...Rainier
« Reply #27 on: 01/28/12, 08:24 PM »

At least they did find that lost snowshoer alive -- one bright spot in an otherwise bleak season at the park.

Actually, they found 3 lost snowshoers alive that same day!

Only one of them got any press attention though, because only he had been reported missing and thus was being searched for. But the other two were out in the elements just as long and in the same area. Here's a nice story published yesterday in the News Tribune about their survival epic:

http://www.thenewstribune.com/2012/01/27/2002298/skills-love-help-lacey-woman-vancouver.html

As usual, there are a few moronic comments from people whose reading comprehension skills are too limited to even understand the news story (the harsh commenters demanding repayment missed the whole point that this couple's rescue cost nothing, since the rescuers were not even looking for them, but for someone else).

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Zap
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Re: Updates??- 2 climbers, 2 campers overdue...Rainier
« Reply #28 on: 01/28/12, 08:48 PM »

Amar, Thank you for sharing your comments which may provide a dialogue to learn from the current situation.
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Randy
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Re: Updates??- 2 climbers, 2 campers overdue...Rainier
« Reply #29 on: 01/28/12, 09:18 PM »

I'm glad the story of the two others did get some coverage in the press - as I understand it - the tea that the woman called the "best tea in the world" came from JHamaker's thermos.
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Lowell_Skoog
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Re: Updates??- 2 climbers, 2 campers overdue...Rainier
« Reply #30 on: 01/28/12, 09:23 PM »

If you've never browsed Accidents in North American Mountaineering, the annual compilation by the American Alpine Club and the Alpine Club of Canada, it's worth a look. There's much to be learned in it, and the reports are written in a dispassionate and analytical style that focuses on the causes, but generally doesn't pass judgment on the victims. It's useful for aspiring and experienced mountaineers and respectful of the victims and their survivors.

Perhaps there are lessons in there for TAY as well.
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glenn_b
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Re: Updates??- 2 climbers, 2 campers overdue...Rainier
« Reply #31 on: 01/28/12, 10:42 PM »

My condolences with the families and friends of the presumably lost but I'm with Amar here. As a survivor of a fatal avalanche and a witness to the peculiar burping sound an avalanche victim makes while CPR is being performed, everything should be on the table. I'm hoping no one else has to go there for whatever reason.
« Last Edit: 01/28/12, 10:51 PM by glenn_b » Logged
Mattski
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Re: Updates??- 2 climbers, 2 campers overdue...Rainier
« Reply #32 on: 01/28/12, 11:51 PM »

Having taken part in the search on the 23rd, I will add that the only thing we are capable of critiquing are the circumstances surrounding their decision to leave the parking lot. Unlike CSI, SAR operations do not attempt to impose judgement on the actions of the lost to avoid closing the searchers to all possibilities of where & how they went.

Live victims of accidents can recount their decision making which builds a foundation for others to study and use to improve their decision making. Hindsight does not improve one's ability to error correct in the field. Checklists and constant communication about changes in conditions(people & weather) help people make better decisions.  Most decisions that end poorly often fail to accurately assess the consequences of the risk taken. The more we educate ourselves to do this well, the better our outcomes will be.
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Lowell_Skoog
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Re: Updates??- 2 climbers, 2 campers overdue...Rainier
« Reply #33 on: 01/29/12, 09:43 AM »

As I flip through old copies of Accidents in North American Mountaineering I think the lesson it teaches is to focus on preparation, skills, and decisions but to avoid speculating about the victims' intelligence or character.
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JimH
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Re: Updates??- 2 climbers, 2 campers overdue...Rainier
« Reply #34 on: 01/29/12, 10:27 AM »

Its always easier to get something constructive out of an accident like this after a little time has passed. That runs against human nature of course. But early reports are always lacking in facts and clouded by strong feelings.

What's worse, the news media makes a living capitalizing on our gut response to things like this, not on getting the facts right. They sell ad impressions, not good information, so you have to look elsewhere for anything really constructive. As a society we really don't make a habit of having thoughtful discussions around topics like this. The discussion here is definitely an improvement and I'm grateful for it.

Personally, I'm thinking about a friend who was lucky to make it back from a winter ascent or Rainier, minus a couple body parts (hardly seems to bother him now...). The best thing about that whole experience was that he got to tell other folks like me what his mistakes were, AND what he did during the accident that may have helped. Mattski is right. That was a few years ago, but the story is still paying dividends.
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tele.skier
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Re: Updates??- 2 climbers, 2 campers overdue...Rainier
« Reply #35 on: 01/29/12, 10:31 AM »

I am really pleased to see the common sense of many of the skiers here on TAY.... After reading phrases like "armchair quarterback" here quite often, I thought most of the skiers here were too politically correct to see that discussing the facts of these tragedys, while sometimes painful, can help other people avoid mistakes of their own and practice safer alpine decision making....

I know I have learned to pay closer attention to telemetry from one highly discussed incident last year.... Thankfully, I have someone I trust to discuss the seasonal snowpack with as it developes and compile an evolving acessment that keeps changing and being re-evaluated.

I had written a very long post on this subject yesterday,.... but it's been covered by other people here posting their own thoughts.

The only other thing I want to say is.... If I die in the backcountry or have some incident occur to me relating to my decision making, snowpack evaluation, or route choice... I would like my mistakes discussed freely here or anywhere that it may help someone else avoid making the same mistakes I made....
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kneel turner
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Re: Updates??- 2 climbers, 2 campers overdue...Rainier
« Reply #36 on: 01/29/12, 11:27 AM »

Well, it's good to see the topic of this thread has shifted to an interesting discussion on how we as winter outdoor enthusiasts react to presumed tragic events in the mountains. Maybe the title should be changed.
The fact is, as I understand it, at this point we don't know anything about what these individuals encountered, their decision making process, or a single mistake that they may have made.
Sorry, but I see no reason to fault the two properly equipped pairs who headed out from the parking lot to enjoy a wintry weekend in the mountains with a forecast of cold temps and snow showers.
Yes, it is beneficial to learn from others experiences and mistakes once we know what happened.
Let's learn from, and evaluate what we know actually happened.
Is this correct?:
-Two parties of two are missing
-Their last known location was the Paradise parking lot
-Two went to camp on the Muir snowfield, two planned to attempt a summit
-Both parties were properly equipped
-There is currently an extended, limited, and continuous search

Please correct or add to these known events, as I would like to know more about this situation out of concern for the missing, and an interest in learning to be a better prepared winter traveller.
Thanks
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ryanl
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Re: Updates??- 2 climbers, 2 campers overdue...Rainier
« Reply #37 on: 01/29/12, 12:31 PM »

Well, that's the dilemma, isn't it: if you hold back on any analysis or criticism of an incident out of respect for family and friends, then you may lose the chance to publicize important lessons which could be learned from the incident.


Analysis and criticism are entirely different discussions, and the difference has nothing to do with frankness.To say that 4 people headed into the alpine despite a forecast for deteriorating weather-- and to provide and explain that forecast-- is one thing. To say that one can not understand how any reasonable person would ever choose to do such a thing is another.

Kneel Turner, you're basically correct on everything, except that they were last seen hiking towards Camp Muir. A descending ranger randomly took a photo of the two parties, separated by a few hundred yards, making their way up. Also, not sure about Sork and Jin Seol, but Mark and Michelle had neither snow shoes nor skis.

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Lowell_Skoog
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Re: Updates??- 2 climbers, 2 campers overdue...Rainier
« Reply #38 on: 01/29/12, 01:27 PM »

Adding to kneel turner's list (and trying to wear my ANAM hat) I think we can add:

- Bad weather forecast
- Failure to turn back in the face of bad weather
- Inadequate equipment (based on what ryanl said about the campers)

That's the sort of stuff that ANAM talks about all the time.
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Amar Andalkar
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Re: Updates??- 2 climbers, 2 campers overdue...Rainier
« Reply #39 on: 01/29/12, 03:53 PM »

To say that one can not understand how any reasonable person would ever choose to do such a thing is another.

Point taken, I should have phrased that better, to avoid commenting on the persons and comment only on their decision -- my bad. I will edit my inappropriate remarks in that post now. I was not actually planning to comment further in this thread, but I guess I will.

I meant that it would be an unreasonable, very poor decision to choose to begin a winter summit ascent attempt given the forecasts copied above. The decision to go snow camping on the Muir Snowfield in the conditions forecast there is nearly as unreasonable too. Those forecasts are not "snow camping" conditions appropriate for (relatively) inexperienced people from sunny warm climates like Atlanta and San Diego, they are brutal winter survival conditions given the combination of plummeting temps and high winds. I would have thought that people on TAY who backcountry ski and ski mountaineer frequently would be well aware of that, but based on the rosy interpretation of the Rainier forecast by kneel turner and others, that is not true.

Ryan, I trust your judgment and experience a lot, even though we have very different risk tolerances -- but I would be totally disappointed in you if you ever decided to make a Rainier attempt into such a forecast, and even more so if you did not return because you did not turn around soon enough. We'd all be sitting around saying, "What was Ryan thinking?!?!?" Our shock and sadness would be magnified, because it would have been an easily preventable situation just by you doing some other trip instead, and leaving the Rainier ascent for a better weather day.

I may perhaps come across as cold and heartless in my comments in this thread, but I am really sad about this incident -- that these four people, random strangers though they are to me, have gone missing and are presumed dead when the whole situation was so easily preventable by looking at the proper forecasts in advance and choosing not to embark on their intended trips at that time.


Sorry, but I see no reason to fault the two properly equipped pairs who headed out from the parking lot to enjoy a wintry weekend in the mountains with a forecast of cold temps and snow showers.
...
Please correct or add to these known events, as I would like to know more about this situation out of concern for the missing, and an interest in learning to be a better prepared winter traveller.
Thanks

Wow, if that's your interpretation of the forecasts copied above, then we do have a problem here, and this discussion is even more important to have. Since you ask to be corrected, I will do so. Please take my remarks in the educational spirit in which they are intended.

That forecast is NOT just "cold temps and snow showers", it is extreme cold (about as cold as it ever gets here in any given year) and extreme winds. Really, it's only the winds that matter at all. If temps were 0 to -20 F with calm or very light winds, more than likely both parties would have been fine, no search would have been needed, and the public would never have heard of them. But high winds change everything above treeline. They create a ground blizzard, the most intense and disorienting type of whiteout, much worse than fog. This intense whiteout hampers your balance and ability to even stand upright, even more so when combined with the force of the wind. Movement and navigation quickly become impossible, and finding one's way back to the Paradise parking lot, even by retracing a GPS track, may not be possible.

This was really a terrible forecast to be attempting a multiday trip above treeline on Rainier. A day trip attempt to Muir on Friday January 13 would have been within acceptable safety margins (although the weather actually deteriorated slightly more quickly than forecast that day, as high clouds and high winds moved in quickly in the afternoon). But remaining up above treeline beyond Friday was so needlessly risky. See the telemetry data below for what the actual conditions were -- just BRUTAL winds, definitely NOT just "cold temps and snow showers".

The single most important weather-related thing that I've learned over the course of 15 years of ski mountaineering, with well over 100 summits of Cascade volcanoes and well over 100 trips to Camp Muir, is that the wind is everything, often really the only thing that matters, high above treeline. It is what can most quickly buildup and ruin your day and endanger your life, even on an otherwise sunny and nice day. I've learned to avoid ascending into any forecast of high winds on Rainier or other isolated volcanoes which always magnify windy conditions.

And the important point is that such a forecast was publicly available for both parties to read -- whether either party actually chose to look at it will never be known unless they are found alive. But it's still ascending into the face of a poor forecast even if you chose to ignore or not seek a forecast that is publicly available to you and to everyone.

Although we don't know what forecasts these parties looked at, it is a sad fact that many parties climbing Rainier or heading to Muir do not look at the proper forecasts: the NWS Rainier recreational forecast which is available twice-a-day year-round, supplemented by the NWAC mountain forecast during the 5 months (November-April) that it is available. This lack of using proper forecasts is done either by ignorance (they don't know of them) or choice (inexplicable), and many parties rely instead on the NWS point forecasts or even TV weather to base their trip planning decisions on. That is not good, since those forecasts do not provide an accurate picture of the winds.


(Minor edits to fix spelling errors.)
« Last Edit: 01/29/12, 06:02 PM by Amar Andalkar » Logged

Amar Andalkar
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Re: Updates??- 2 climbers, 2 campers overdue...Rainier
« Reply #40 on: 01/29/12, 03:59 PM »

Since I did not post it with the earlier forecasts, here is the Camp Muir NWAC telemetry covering the period in question from Friday January 13 to Monday January 16, and continuing until the wind gauge rimes over and stops spinning on January 18 (there is also a period on January 15 when it briefly appears to be stuck). The predictions of the NWS Rainier forecasts for temperatures and winds are verified quite well (the forecasts give winds in the free air, and wind speeds usually become even higher where they have to flow around a large obstruction like Mount Rainier). It is easy to see why any party would get into distress under these conditions.



Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center                                MOUNT RAINIER RECREATIONAL FORECAST
Camp Muir, Mt Rainier National Park, Washington                       NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SEATTLE WA
                                                                      400 AM PST FRI JAN 13 2012
Wind gages unheated and may rime                                     
                                                                      .SYNOPSIS...AN UPPER LEVEL RIDGE WILL REMAIN OVER WESTERN WASHINGTON
  MM/DD   Hour   Temp     RH   Wind   Wind   Wind   Wind  Solar       TODAY...WITH MOSTLY SUNNY SKIES. A COLD FRONT WILL APPROACH THE
           PST      F      %    Min    Avg    Max    Dir   W/m2       REGION FROM THE NORTHWEST TONIGHT WITH RAIN DEVELOPING OVER THE
               10110' 10110' 10110' 10110' 10110' 10110' 10110'       NORTH AFTER MIDNIGHT. THE COLD FRONT WILL BRING LIGHT RAIN AND SNOW
---------------------------------------------------------------       TO THE PARK SATURDAY MORNING INTO SATURDAY AFTERNOON...WITH
   1 13    500     24     26      2      5      9     74      0       SCATTERED SHOWERS DEVELOPING BEHIND THE COLD FRONT LATE SATURDAY
   1 13    600     26     11      1      6     16    280      0       AFTERNOON. SCATTERED SNOW SHOWERS WILL CONTINUE SATURDAY NIGHT AND
   1 13    700     27      7      2      8     17    242      0       SUNDAY AS THE COLD UPPER LEVEL TROUGH OVER THE REGION LOWERS THE
   1 13    800     27     11      2      8     22     23      8       SNOW LEVEL TO BELOW 500 FEET. COOL UNSETTLED WEATHER WILL CONTINUE
   1 13    900     27     24      2      9     18    310     51       NEXT WEEK WITH A POSSIBILITY OF LOWLAND SNOW AT TIMES.
   1 13   1000     27     16      2      8     19    297    239     
   1 13   1100     25     18      1      6     15    223    279       .FRIDAY...MOSTLY SUNNY. FREEZING LEVEL 6500 FEET.
   1 13   1200     26     20      2     14     25    224    318       .FRIDAY NIGHT...MOSTLY CLOUDY. FREEZING LEVEL 7000 FEET.
   1 13   1300     24     24     13     23     34    227    379       .SATURDAY...RAIN AND SNOW CHANGING TO SHOWERS. SNOW LEVEL 3000 FEET.
   1 13   1400     24     24     20     30     39    238    286       .SATURDAY NIGHT...SNOW SHOWERS LIKELY.
   1 13   1500     23     57     24     37     52    250    166       .SUNDAY...SNOW SHOWERS LIKELY.
   1 13   1600     25     45     34     49     70    238     46     
   1 13   1700     24     45     29     50     67    245      8       TEMPERATURE AND WIND FORECASTS FOR SELECTED LOCATIONS.
   1 13   1800     24     36     44     58     80    246      0     
   1 13   1900     23     36     40     66     84    243      0                              FRI    FRI    SAT    SAT    SUN
   1 13   2000     23     41     47     67     89    240      0                                   NIGHT         NIGHT
   1 13   2100     22     44     44     73     90    240      0     
   1 13   2200     22     42     47     67     84    247      0       SUMMIT   (14411 FT)      8      6     -2    -24    -26
   1 13   2300     21     38     48     70     90    244      0                             W 48   W 71   W 91   W 48   W 30
   1 14      0     20     48     54     70     83    253      0     
   1 14    100     20     51     49     70     87    252      0       CAMP MUIR(10188 FT)     24     23      5     -4     -4
   1 14    200     20     56     54     75     90    247      0                             W 30   W 57   W 52   W 40   W 25
   1 14    300     17     55     61     79     97    244      0     
   1 14    400     16     60     59     76     96    244      0       PARADISE  (5420 FT)     43     29     35     19     22
---------------------------------------------------------------                             W  4   W 11  SW 17  SW 10  SW  8
   1 14    500     14     75     51     81    103    249      0     
   1 14    600     10     94     55     81    106    248      0       LONGMIRE  (2700 FT)     41     31     36     23     26
   1 14    700     10     94     57     77     93    252      0                             W  2  NW  8  SW 14  SW 10  SW  8
   1 14    800     10     94     60     76     95    246      1     
   1 14    900     10     94     58     71     84    211     22       ++ TEMPERATURES AND WIND FOR THE SUMMIT AND CAMP MUIR ARE AVERAGE
   1 14   1000     10     93     53     69     82    174     93          CONDITIONS EXPECTED IN THE FREE AIR AT THOSE ELEVATIONS.
   1 14   1100     10     93     68     80     95    174    138       ++ TEMPERATURES FOR PARADISE AND LONGMIRE ARE THE EXPECTED HIGHS AND
   1 14   1200      9     93     82     94    108    174    156          LOWS. WIND IS THE AVERAGE WIND EXPECTED DURING THAT PERIOD.
   1 14   1300      7     92     42     75     97    174    271     
   1 14   1400      3     91     48     77     99    174    346       .EXTENDED FORECAST...
   1 14   1500     -2     89     38     71     92    174    149     
   1 14   1600     -4     88     24     48     74    174    103       .SUNDAY NIGHT...SNOW SHOWERS.
   1 14   1700     -4     87     14     51     74    174     16       .MARTIN LUTHER KING JR DAY THROUGH TUESDAY...SNOW SHOWERS LIKELY.
   1 14   1800     -6     87     30     54     75    174      0       .TUESDAY NIGHT...SNOW SHOWERS LIKELY.
   1 14   1900     -7     86     26     46     63    174      0       .WEDNESDAY THROUGH THURSDAY...SHOWERS LIKELY. SNOW LEVEL 2000 FEET.
   1 14   2000     -6     87     14     41     61    174      0     
   1 14   2100     -7     86     22     47     71    174      0     
   1 14   2200     -7     86     25     49     71    174      0     
   1 14   2300     -6     87     12     33     53    174      0     
   1 15      0     -6     86     23     41     57    174      0       MOUNT RAINIER RECREATIONAL FORECAST
   1 15    100     -8     86     34     43     56    174      0       NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SEATTLE WA
   1 15    200     -8     86     11     31     47    174      0       425 AM PST SAT JAN 14 2012
   1 15    300     -8     86     13     29     42    174      0     
   1 15    400     -7     86     17     33     46    174      0       .SYNOPSIS...A COLD FRONT WILL MOVE THROUGH WESTERN WASHINGTON THIS
---------------------------------------------------------------       MORNING. BEHIND THE FRONT A COOL AIR MASS WILL MOVE INTO WESTERN
   1 15    500     -7     86     13     26     39    174      0       WASHINGTON LOWERING THE SNOW LEVELS DOWN TO NEAR THE SURFACE. THE
   1 15    600     -7     86     18     26     36    174      0       COOL AIR MASS WILL REMAIN IN PLACE THROUGH MONDAY KEEPING SNOW
   1 15    700     -7     86     18     23     28    174      0       SHOWERS IN THE FORECAST.
   1 15    800     -7     86     12     24     33    174      3     
   1 15    900     -7     86     17     25     32    174     46       ...WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY IN EFFECT UNTIL 10 PM PST THIS
   1 15   1000     -6     86     26     32     42    174    149       EVENING...
   1 15   1100     -6     87     20     32     41    174    212     
   1 15   1200     -5     87     17     25     31    174    277       .SATURDAY...SNOW CHANGING TO SNOW SHOWERS IN THE LATE MORNING.
   1 15   1300     -5     87     16     24     33    174    346       SNOW LEVEL 3000 FEET LOWERING DOWN TO THE SURFACE IN THE AFTERNOON.
   1 15   1400     -6     86     15     22     34    174    272       NEW SNOW ACCUMULATION 3 TO 6 INCHES.
   1 15   1500     -6     86     14     21     27    174    174       .SATURDAY NIGHT...SNOW SHOWERS. NEW SNOW ACCUMULATION 2 TO 4 INCHES.
   1 15   1600     -6     86      5     16     22    174     89       .SUNDAY...SNOW SHOWERS.
   1 15   1700     -5     87      2      9     18    174     13       .SUNDAY NIGHT...SNOW SHOWERS LIKELY.
   1 15   1800     -6     86      0      1      6    174      0       .MARTIN LUTHER KING JR DAY...SNOW SHOWERS LIKELY.
   1 15   1900     -6     86      0      0      0    174      0     
   1 15   2000     -7     86      0      0      0    174      0       TEMPERATURE AND WIND FORECASTS FOR SELECTED LOCATIONS.
   1 15   2100     -6     86      0      0      0    174      0     
   1 15   2200     -9     85      0      0      0    174      0                              SAT    SAT    SUN    SUN    MON
   1 15   2300     -8     85      0      0      0    174      0                                   NIGHT         NIGHT
   1 16      0     -8     85      0      6     16    174      0     
   1 16    100     -9     85      0      4     16    174      0       SUMMIT   (14411 FT)     -1    -24    -26    -25    -21
   1 16    200     -8     86      0      2      6    174      0                            W 100   W 60   W 40  NW 45   W 70
   1 16    300     -6     87      0      4     14    174      0     
   1 16    400     -7     86      2      8     21    174      0       CAMP MUIR(10188 FT)      5     -4     -4     -7     -3
---------------------------------------------------------------                             W 75   W 45   W 35   W 45   W 60
   1 16    500     -7     86      1     10     22    174      0     
   1 16    600     -7     85     10     22     40    174      0       PARADISE  (5420 FT)     29     15     21     10     19
   1 16    700     -7     86     13     21     36    174      0                             W 15  SW 10   W  5   W  5   W 10
   1 16    800     -8     86     13     27     42    174      5     
   1 16    900     -7     86     27     37     47    174     46       LONGMIRE  (2700 FT)     31     19     24     17     23
   1 16   1000     -5     87     14     28     42    174    252                             CALM   CALM   CALM   CALM   CALM
   1 16   1100     -5     87     12     35     57    174    335     
   1 16   1200     -5     87     36     56     72    174    242       ++ TEMPERATURES AND WIND FOR THE SUMMIT AND CAMP MUIR ARE AVERAGE
   1 16   1300     -5     87     50     62     77    174    189          CONDITIONS EXPECTED IN THE FREE AIR AT THOSE ELEVATIONS.
   1 16   1400     -5     87     46     59     78    174    159       ++ TEMPERATURES FOR PARADISE AND LONGMIRE ARE THE EXPECTED HIGHS AND
   1 16   1500     -5     87     21     43     64    174    101          LOWS. WIND IS THE AVERAGE WIND EXPECTED DURING THAT PERIOD.
   1 16   1600     -5     87     43     55     66    174     38     
   1 16   1700     -4     87     25     53     66    174     10       .EXTENDED FORECAST...
   1 16   1800     -4     87     44     53     63    174      0     
   1 16   1900     -4     87     39     53     62    174      0       .MONDAY NIGHT AND TUESDAY...SNOW SHOWERS LIKELY.
   1 16   2000     -4     88     49     58     69    174      0       .TUESDAY NIGHT...SNOW SHOWERS LIKELY.
   1 16   2100     -4     88     50     59     71    174      0       .WEDNESDAY...SHOWERS LIKELY. SNOW LEVEL 1500 FEET.
   1 16   2200     -3     88     50     59     68    174      0       .WEDNESDAY NIGHT THROUGH FRIDAY...SHOWERS LIKELY. SNOW LEVEL 3000 FEET.
   1 16   2300     -3     88     54     62     71    174      0     
   1 17      0     -3     88     49     66     77    174      0     
   1 17    100     -2     88     62     70     90    174      0     
   1 17    200     -2     88     54     70     85    174      0     
   1 17    300     -2     88     62     75     95    174      0     
   1 17    400     -2     88     52     72     94    174      0     
---------------------------------------------------------------     
   1 17    500     -2     88     56     74     88    174      0     
   1 17    600     -2     88     52     70     88    174      0     
   1 17    700     -2     88     57     69     79    174      0     
   1 17    800     -2     88     51     72     90    174      2     
   1 17    900     -2     88     58     83    100    174     21     
   1 17   1000     -2     88     46     70     89    174     65     
   1 17   1100     -2     88     49     74     90    174    116     
   1 17   1200     -3     88     47     74     99    174    155     
   1 17   1300     -4     87     53     80    115    174    183     
   1 17   1400     -3     88     24     63    107    174    155     
   1 17   1500     -4     87     38     68    107    174    118     
   1 17   1600     -4     87     23     55     84    174     89     
   1 17   1700     -3     88     22     60    106    174     17     
   1 17   1800     -4     87     18     55     94    174      0     
   1 17   1900     -3     88     22     59     92    174      0     
   1 17   2000     -2     88     20     62    108    174      0     
   1 17   2100     -0     89     33     69     99    174      0     
   1 17   2200      0     89     14     67    101    174      0     
   1 17   2300      0     89     16     68     96    174      0     
   1 18      0      1     90     29     65     99    174      0     
   1 18    100      3     90      9     51     82    174      0     
   1 18    200      8     92     47     72     98    174      0     
   1 18    300     10     93     75     95    113    174      0     
   1 18    400      8     93     74     96    114    174      0     
---------------------------------------------------------------     
   1 18    500      9     93     69     82     93    174      0     
   1 18    600     10     93     65     75     86    174      0     
   1 18    700     10     93     55     82    104    174      0     
   1 18    800     12     94     65     81     94    174      1     
   1 18    900     14     95     63     79     93    174     13     
   1 18   1000     16     95     67     83     93    174     37     
   1 18   1100     17     96     71     83     95    174     66     
   1 18   1200     19     96     73     86     97    174     93     
   1 18   1300     19     96     63     82     96    174    101     
   1 18   1400     19     97     20     63     88    174     74     
   1 18   1500     20     97      0      1     30    174     48     
   1 18   1600     20     97      0      0      0    174     22     
   1 18   1700     19     96      0      0      0    174      5     
   1 18   1800     19     96      0      0      0    174      0     
   1 18   1900     18     96      0      0      0    174      0     
   1 18   2000     18     96      0      0      0    174      0     
   1 18   2100     17     96      0      0      0    174      0     
   1 18   2200     18     96      0      0      0    174      0     
   1 18   2300     17     96      0      0      0    174      0     
   1 19      0     17     96      0      0      0    174      0     
   1 19    100     17     96      0      0      0    174      0     
   1 19    200     18     96      0      0      0    174      0     
   1 19    300     18     96      0      0      0    174      0     
   1 19    400     18     96      0      0      0    174      0     
---------------------------------------------------------------     


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Lowell_Skoog
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Re: Updates??- 2 climbers, 2 campers overdue...Rainier
« Reply #41 on: 01/29/12, 05:13 PM »

Thanks Amar. Lots to think about.

As I read your excellent points about the wind, it occurred to me that one of the under-appreciated pieces of equipment for winter mountaineering is a pair of goggles. In high wind and blowing snow without goggles, you're screwed. You could have all the best clothing, skis or snowshoes, and shelter, but if you can't see, you can't move.

It took me a while to learn this, even on mellow winter ski trips. For traveling above timberline on Mt Rainier, it's even more critical. I suspect that many snow campers and visitors from other climates have no idea of this hazard.
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Andrew Carey
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Re: Updates??- 2 climbers, 2 campers overdue...Rainier
« Reply #42 on: 01/29/12, 05:33 PM »

Amar, I would also point out that the Mt. Rainier Rec Forecast is on the MRNP telephone answering machine (roads & weather); is posted at the Nisqually Entrance, and must also be available (I hope, but do not know) at Longmire where (I, at least, in the past, got my camping permit).
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Andy Carey, Nisqually Park, 3500 feet below Paradise
ryanl
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Re: Updates??- 2 climbers, 2 campers overdue...Rainier
« Reply #43 on: 01/29/12, 06:09 PM »

Yes Amar, thanks for this. It was interesting to hear your points on wind, and ground blizzards. I've said for as long as I can remember that wind is my least favorite element. 
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vogtski
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Re: Updates??- 2 climbers, 2 campers overdue...Rainier
« Reply #44 on: 01/29/12, 06:40 PM »

I agree with Amar about the winds above timberline at Rainier and with those who suggested that the 'destination' nature of the climbs was a factor. It seems that many experienced climbers from California & the Rockies underestimate this mountain, having climbed to similar elevations in their home ranges. Climatically, Rainier would almost be like a 20,000 foot summit in those locations, since it rises about 8000 feet above treeline, twice as much as they're used to.

The different physical geography of volcanos may be a factor also. Many small ridges merge, sometimes subtly, on the ascent and the wrong one can easily be chosen when descending, even in fair weather.

The many past similar accidents on the Muir snowfield have often resulted in the victims being wind-driven east of their intended route onto Paradise Glacier and into the Cowlitz drainages. (This is one of several cases where Rainier glaciers don't feed the streams with the same name). I recall a guy separated from his winter party near Muir in the 70's who knocked on the Ohanapecosh ranger's door twelve days later.
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BillK
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Re: Updates??- 2 climbers, 2 campers overdue...Rainier
« Reply #45 on: 01/29/12, 08:36 PM »

^^^^Hopefully that is what will happen in this case...maybe wander in somewhere at some point.  Not likely, but possible.
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RonL
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Re: Updates??- 2 climbers, 2 campers overdue...Rainier
« Reply #46 on: 01/29/12, 09:03 PM »

Ugh, I hadn't heard it called a ground blizzard before but the whiteouts in that type of condition and particularly on Rainier are really something. I recall stopping in one of those and then being disoriented enough to push off uphill and fall. I literally lost track of which way down hill was in the time we had stopped to chat about how bad viability had become. If I remember right we actually backtracked up to find our uphill tracks again in order to follow them on our way back down (a skill that has saved me on more than on occasion). Luckily it hadn't filled in yet. In the spot we were I think the concern was that we might accidentally head into the Nisqually. If retreating from Muir and not familiar with the route I could see that following a downhill route of least resistance in that kind of disorientated state could place you in some bad terrain.
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juan
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Re: Updates??- 2 climbers, 2 campers overdue...Rainier
« Reply #47 on: 01/30/12, 03:56 PM »

The single most important weather-related thing that I've learned over the course of 15 years of ski mountaineering, with well over 100 summits of Cascade volcanoes and well over 100 trips to Camp Muir, is that the wind is everything, often really the only thing that matters, high above treeline. It is what can most quickly buildup and ruin your day and endanger your life, even on an otherwise sunny and nice day. I've learned to avoid ascending into any forecast of high winds on Rainier or other isolated volcanoes which always magnify windy conditions.



I'm wondering at what speed winds would you consider aborting a trip, also considering the predicted values are averages?
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Andrew Carey
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Re: Updates??- 2 climbers, 2 campers overdue...Rainier
« Reply #48 on: 01/30/12, 04:51 PM »

I would be interested in hearing Amar's standard as well.  I have been caught in blizzards above Paradise and it can be scary.  I have also climbed above Panorama Point on my hands and knees because i (and the two with me) couldn't stand up with the skis on our packs.  So, for me, it is an interaction between precipitation (snow) and wind.  If there is snow forecast with winds gusting above 30 mph, I stay home (after a very unnerving experience trying to climb out of the back bowl with snow being deposited so fast that I had to keep shifting my ascent and by the time I got to the top I thought I better dig a snow cave--the winds weren't that great, but given the powder [ground blizzard] the situation was tenuous; eventually, i recognized some landmarks and made my way back to Paradise to find a parking lot empty of all cars but my pickup and Ranger Karen waiting hopefully at Cougar Rock--she had left me a note on my windshield, but I almost couldn't get my doors open for the plastered snow).  If there is no precip and the snow is settled, 30 mph is easily handled.  50 mph is difficult to handle under many conditions.  And higher ... the woman of the pair that survived two nights recounted that the strong winds blew snow into the vents of her goggles making them useless from plastering inside and out.  Of course, i'm an old codger, and I can go skiing any day; but above treeline--I am conservative.
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Andy Carey, Nisqually Park, 3500 feet below Paradise
shaman
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Re: Updates??- 2 climbers, 2 campers overdue...Rainier
« Reply #49 on: 01/30/12, 05:07 PM »

Mt. Rainier can be such a vicious beast.

I remember in January a few years ago starting from Paradise in sunshine and nothing more than a base layer. Halfway up the snowfield the clouds began to roll in. The winds picked up and the temperature must have dropped 20 degrees in a matter of seconds. My fingers were numb before I could get my gloves on. We made the decision to high-tail it off of the mountain before conditions worsened.
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Charlie Hagedorn
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Re: Updates??- 2 climbers, 2 campers overdue...Rainier
« Reply #50 on: 01/30/12, 06:27 PM »

In high wind and blowing snow without goggles, you're screwed.

Just wanted to highlight this point. Glacier glasses with side shields don't cut it for me on trips where harsh winter weather is possible. Travelling into the wind in riming conditions without goggles can be painful and blinding.

Skin wax has a similar home in my pack.
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Dr. Telemark
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Re: Updates??- 2 climbers, 2 campers overdue...Rainier
« Reply #51 on: 01/30/12, 09:51 PM »

Well, that's the dilemma, isn't it: if you hold back on any analysis or criticism of an incident out of respect for family and friends, then you may lose the chance to publicize important lessons which could be learned from the incident. If you wait until after a lengthy grieving period has passed (months, a year?) then the incident has faded from public view, and the important lessons will not be widely heard even if presented then. For the first time in my life, I dealt with the death of two close friends in the mountains within the past year, so I'm certainly much more sensitive to the issues regarding grief of family and friends than I was before. But even more so after those two fatal accidents last year, I don't think that family and friends should be shielded from the truth, or that public discussion of an incident should be avoided.

I fully agree with Amar and as I read the posts above I wasn't seeing harsh criticism but some analysis of what many would feel was a lack of foresight, caution and situational awareness.   Though this forum is public, it isn't like we are printing our comment in the Seattle Times but sharing our insight to a group of backcountry skiers/boarders to clarify decision points that may have saved the lives of those lost.

We do this kind of analysis in medicine all of the time - it's called morbidity and mortality report.  In a confidential meeting (to allow for open discussion), we break down the events that led to a bad outcome (or sometimes an expected death - not necessarily avoidable).   This is done to teach ourselves everything possible to avoid pitfalls or mistakes that could have occurred.  Brokering a respectful, honest discussion is an art, but it also must be honest and not duck the key questions or acceptance of failure.  In the process, we hope to have some humility too, since we all realize that anyone of us could make the same mistake. 

Yes, a totally random event could take someone out at no fault of their own and that does happen, but more often then not, it is human error that leads to someone's death in most of these stories.  We must learn from our own mistakes and those of others and carry that humility into the mountains.

Dr. Telemark
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Amar Andalkar
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Re: Updates??- 2 climbers, 2 campers overdue...Rainier
« Reply #52 on: 01/31/12, 03:47 PM »

I'm wondering at what speed winds would you consider aborting a trip, also considering the predicted values are averages?

I started thinking about this and writing, and it just grew too long (and too specifically about me) to post in this thread. So it seems best to start a separate thread:

High winds on Mt Rainier: thoughts and experiences

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kneel turner
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Re: Updates??- 2 climbers, 2 campers overdue...Rainier
« Reply #53 on: 01/31/12, 09:49 PM »

Ryan (or anyone) do you mind sharing where they were last seen heading up towards Camp Muir?
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spresho
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Re: Updates??- 2 climbers, 2 campers overdue...Rainier
« Reply #54 on: 08/08/12, 05:50 PM »

It looks like Mike Vucich's body was found just a little above Pebble Creek.

http://blog.thenewstribune.com/adventure/2012/08/08/autopsy-to-be-done-today-on-body-found-at-mount-rainier/

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vogtski
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Re: Updates??- 2 climbers, 2 campers overdue...Rainier
« Reply #55 on: 09/08/12, 11:18 AM »

The Tacoma News Tribune is reporting two more bodies and a campsite have been found on Paradise Glacier: http://www.thenewstribune.com/2012/09/08/2287598/rangers-recover-two-bodies-from.html
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Shred13
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Re: Updates??- 2 climbers, 2 campers overdue...Rainier
« Reply #56 on: 09/08/12, 07:59 PM »

Was on Paradise glacier today and the heli came in and out of that location 5 times.
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