telemark skiingbackcountry skiingPacific NorthwestWashington and Oregonweather linksThe Yuki AwardsMt. Rainier and Mt. Adams
Turns All Year
www.turns-all-year.com
  Help | Search | Login | Register
Turns All Year Trip Reports
Backcountry Skiing and Snowboarding

Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
11/20/17, 08:27 PM

Become a TAY Sponsor!
 
Trip Reports Sponsor
American Alpine Institute
American Alpine Institute
Turns All Year Trip Reports
(1) Viewing these pages constitutes your acceptance of the Terms of Use.
(2) Disclaimer: the accuracy of information here is unknown, use at your own risk.
(3) Trip Report monthly boards: only actual trip report starts a new thread.
(4) Keep it civil and constructive - that is the norm here.
 
FOAC Snow
Info Exchange


NWAC Avalanche
Forecast
+  Turns All Year Trip Reports
|-+  2014 Backcountry Trip Reports
| |-+  January 2014 Backcountry Trip Reports
| | |-+  Jan 25-26, 2014, Baker via heliotrope and accident
:
« previous next »
Pages: 1 2 [All] | Go Down Print
Author Topic: Jan 25-26, 2014, Baker via heliotrope and accident  (Read 27644 times)
patrick
5Member
Offline

Posts: 44


Jan 25-26, 2014, Baker via heliotrope and accident
« on: 01/27/14, 05:51 PM »

My wife and I left Seattle Saturday PM, hoping to join 3 friends at camp on Heliotrope for a summit push Sun.  We began skinning up the road (closed 2 miles from the trailhead) just as the last daylight left.  About a mile in a snowmobiler gave us a lift the final mile to the th.  Very appreciated.
Thin, patchy snow made us opt for the summer trail - we didn't want tricky bushwacking and creek crossings in the dark. The summer trail went fine, but it climbs slowly and is way less efficient that the winter route.  We were able to skin icy slush for much of it, maybe from 1.5 miles in until treeline.  We encountered a group of 3 with an activated Spot device awaiting rescue - one of them had fallen into a tree and wasn't able to walk anymore.  They were well-provisioned and in good spirits, so we pressed ahead.
Above treeline a thin sheen of ice covered everything.  We switched to ski crampons, and in about 5 minutes Sarah was sliding backwards uncontrollably, self-arresting with fingertips in bootprints.  We switched to real crampons from there and booted up and up, the ice easily yielding to the spikes.  Another warning we didn't spend much time mulling: every time we dropped something - a water bottle, an ice axe (!) - we could do nothing but listed to it slide off into the darkness, gaining speed.  I did learn enough to attach a leash to our other ice axe.  (We also had a whippet.)
We never found our friends - I think they were in thatoneguydave's paty (http://www.turns-all-year.com/skiing_snowboarding/trip_reports/index.php?topic=30505.0) - so we made camp on Heliotrope at 10:45pm around 6500'.  An uneventful night, though in retrospect we should have staked the tent with some serious hardware to prevent it from sliding (a scary thought). 
Left camp at 8:15 am and cramponed up and up in a spectacular morning.  The high alpine is really another world.  We cramponed almost the whole way, though we did skin for about 10 minutes over frozen sastrugi on a flat part around 8000'. 
The Roman Wall was also heinous - large frozen ice globs atop breakable snow.  It cramponed just fine, but skiing would have been horrible.  Gorgeous view from the summer, gorgeous descent to camp.  Skis on our backs almost the whole time; we skied maybe 2000' of the whole mountain.  The best turns were on the frozen sastrugi.  Oy.
From camp we followed a party of four skiers down the winter route to the car.  More of the slippery ice sheen, but it made for easy crampon plunge-stepping.  Sarah had a whippet and I had a poor-man's whippet - an ice axe ski-strapped to a ski pole.  We were strolling and chatting happily, and suddenly Sarah was down and beginning to slide.  I lunged for the tops of her skis (attached to her pack), made contact for an instant and found myself quickly picking up speed.  I fumbled with my "whippet," trying to orient the ice axe right.  I stupidly fought for purchase with my feet, which of course flipped me upside down.  I don't know how far I slid, but it was fast and I could see shrubs and rocks flying by me.  The party of skiers below us watched me get air over a rollover.  I had time to wish my helmet was on my head instead of in my pack.  I eventually managed to use my ice axe to turn the right way round, and then on a less steep part to finally self-arrest. Sarah had stopped maybe 50 yards above me in some alder.  Holy shit.  I took inventory of myself and it was clear that I wouldn't be using my left arm anymore that night.  (Dislocated shoulder - probably from the self-arrest.)  Sarah got away with just a bruised rib, so she's mobile but destined for a few weeks of pain. 
The other party climbed up to me quickly and got me seated, slinged, and wrapped in layers (the arm I could move, anyway).  Those guys were awesome - completely on top of the situation and great positive attitudes.  Without them we would have had to leave a ton of gear behind, and I'm not confident that just the two of us could have managed a safe continued descent in our shook-up mindsets. 
Here's a puzzle: how do 5 people get 6 people's gear down a mountain when all of them have heavy overnight packs with glacier gear?  I cramponed down with a spotter below me while they puzzled it out.  The solution: a splitboard fed through the A-frame carry straps of two backpacks, for a double-height backpack.  What a beast.  I think I had an easier walk out cradling my arm than the guy with the double pack did. 
The injured descent probably took 1.5 hours, half bushwacking with crampons and half walking down a snowy road.  I popped a codeine at the road and nearly took a turn up the wrong road as I walked ahead of our rescuers.  Not a fun experience, but I had lots of time to think about what an ordeal a leg injury would have made for.  And on the plus side, I completely ceased to be aware of my sore feet.
We hit the car maybe an hour after dark.  I'd say my ordeal ended two hours later when the Bellingham ED started me on an IV of the good stuff and popped my shoulder back in. 

Lots of takeaways from this.  In no particular order:
- Being a skilled ski mountaineer doesn't make you competent on ice and crampons.  I went out there with total confidence in our abilities in the alpine, and most of my experience does not apply to ice sheets/ 
- All the basics.  Without an ice axe leash I never would have self-arrested.  With more recent practice self arresting I probably would have stopped quickly and suffered no injuries.  Similarly, Sarah might have been able to stop herself with more practice.  She found it hard to move from holding the whippet like a trekking pole to get her hand in the self-arrest position.  The hand strap impeded her in this.  And it wouldn't have hurt to bring the Spot device on this trip. 
- We were too cavalier as we neared the bottom of the mountain.  The walking was really pretty trivial, our day was mostly over, and we did not act appropriately to our exposure.  We'd long since removed our helmets, for example.
- It was dumb to lunge after Sarah as she fell.  If she was going to be hurt, she would have been truly screwed if I got injured too.  That said, I shudder to think of how else she might have come to a stop had I not deflected her into the alders.

- I feel incredibly lucky.  We both took long, fast slides, without helmets, in a gully that ended in trees and a rocky river.  If we'd fallen higher up on steeper terrain, our falls would have been much longer and more kinetic, and our walk out would have been really epic.  But in any situation, it's really easy to see either of our slides ending with a spine injury or a cracked skull.  With a cut-up face and an arm in a sling, it's good to be alive right now.  Not even going to consider hypotheticals involving Sarah. 
- And I'm incredibly grateful for the other party.  They had the situation totally under control, and our exit would have been dangerous and even more unpleasant without them. 

Sarah on this experience: "it's like a teenager getting chlamydia."  A powerful learning experience that allows for a complete recovery. 
Logged
T. Eastman
Member
Offline

Posts: 439


Re: Jan 25-26, 2014, Baker via heliotrope and accident
« Reply #1 on: 01/27/14, 08:00 PM »

Quote
Being a skilled ski mountaineer doesn't make you competent on ice and crampons.  I went out there with total confidence in our abilities in the alpine, and most of my experience does not apply to ice sheets/ 

 I am going to be harsh...

... people need to re-evaluate their evaluation of their skills.  While rare in these parts, such conditions are part of ski touring and most certainly part of ski-mountaineering.  Ice axe arrests are a poor substitute for footwork, with and without crampons.
Logged
r1de
Member
Offline

Posts: 260


Re: Jan 25-26, 2014, Baker via heliotrope and accident
« Reply #2 on: 01/27/14, 08:03 PM »

Wow. Thanks for sharing. Glad to hear you're both okay.  Having just learned of a fall-on-ice related fatality this weekend, I can say you're truly lucky.
Logged

--
-bp
Eckels
5Member
Offline

Posts: 62


Re: Jan 25-26, 2014, Baker via heliotrope and accident
« Reply #3 on: 01/27/14, 08:26 PM »

I had a similar experience skiing on the SW side of Baker on Saturday. everything West facing was totally locked up and shiny.

While traversing above a rollover to reach a south face that would be skiable my edge gave out and I began to slide with a whippet and regular ski pole and no gloves.

The first time I dug my whippet in I was not able to stop (partly due to the awkward position having skis on my feet put me in), instead of stopping I was flipped head first.

Once facing into the slope again I dug my whippet in with the same result.

Only when I reached the bottom of the 100 vert slope that very luckily had a relatively long flat runout was I was I able to stop.

Came out of it unscathed other than scraping the skin off of most of my knuckles and a good portion of my left thumb.

Very glad I did not begin to slide on an exposed slope. 
Logged
Charlie Hagedorn
Member
Offline

Posts: 1822


WWW
Re: Jan 25-26, 2014, Baker via heliotrope and accident
« Reply #4 on: 01/27/14, 08:33 PM »

Very glad you're okay. Slides on ice are scary.

Stable powder and soft corn will return soon; there's always a next time.
Logged

Cornfed
5Member
Offline

Posts: 88


Re: Jan 25-26, 2014, Baker via heliotrope and accident
« Reply #5 on: 01/27/14, 08:54 PM »

Some jackass always has to be a know it all; and they know they are a jackass because they start by saying "I'm going to be harsh".  You should ignore all such posts, you've already beaten yourself up over it.  I wanted to say, thanks for sharing, and nice job getting out despite having injuries (and a little bit of help), though I suspect you'd have gotten out anyhow, but maybe had to leave some gear.  It is easy to share all that goes well in the mountains, but much harder to humbly share our mistakes.  Much better to ready mistakes so we all can learn.

Also makes me feel better about being home with the family this past weekend despite the beautiful sunny weather.  Snow is finally on the way!
Logged
T. Eastman
Member
Offline

Posts: 439


Re: Jan 25-26, 2014, Baker via heliotrope and accident
« Reply #6 on: 01/27/14, 09:37 PM »

It isn't anything about "know it all" attitude, it is about people skiing being honest about their skills and judgement.  Always being polite and supportive avoids realistic criticism. 

By posting such an account, I would expect some fair evaluation...

... do you get soft fuzzy reviews at work, where the consequences are less likely to result in death?
Logged
Charlie Hagedorn
Member
Offline

Posts: 1822


WWW
Re: Jan 25-26, 2014, Baker via heliotrope and accident
« Reply #7 on: 01/27/14, 10:03 PM »

I'm pretty certain that low friction and gravity offered sufficient feedback. Falls like this one are no fun, and aren't easily dismissed. Whenever I think on it, I thank my lucky stars not to have lost a ski partner in a similar event.

Thank you, Patrick, for sharing your story that others might learn.
Logged

Snoqualmonix
Member
Offline

Posts: 294


WWW
Re: Jan 25-26, 2014, Baker via heliotrope and accident
« Reply #8 on: 01/27/14, 10:04 PM »

I am going to be harsh...

... people need to re-evaluate their evaluation of their skills.† While rare in these parts, such conditions are part of ski touring and most certainly part of ski-mountaineering.† Ice axe arrests are a poor substitute for footwork, with and without crampons.

Thank you for succinctly & kindly stating what immediately crossed my mind. †I perceived no malice or "jackass-ness" in what was expressed above, simply some honest critique for someone who considers themselves to be a skilled mountaineer about some basic tenets of mountain travel....footwork (and who also made a decision to publicly share and open themselves up to feedback). †God forbid a member of our entitled society get told they need to re-evaluate their skills and not just get a gold star for trying.

Why should we "learn from someones mistakes" but not talk about what were some major technical mistakes that contributed to, and exacerbated, the situation. †People's reliance on whippets (or even axes in un-arrestable terrain for that matter) is often very troubling to me when they seemingly don't realize that they are only one piece in a chain of protection options that begin with proper foot & crampon technique and end with roped climbing. †Even with a heavy alpen-stock, an un-roped fall above high consequence exposure on steeper icy terrain is often not enough to arrest the fall; if you don't want to take my word for it, read any year of 'Accidents in North American Mountaineering' and see how many accident causes were "Fall on snow. †Failure to arrest".

If people only want "likes" and good-vibes from close calls(mistakes), post for your friends on Facebook. †When you "do your business in the street" by airing it all out on a public forum of backcountry skiers in one of the gnarliest mountain states in the country, I reckon one is open to "constructive criticism".

To the OP, I respect your immediate reaction towards your woman & your admittance of luck. †I'm grateful for you and the people who love you that they're not looking for your raven in the mountains tomorrow.
Logged

-----------------
"Point your tips and be brave"

If someone skis in the Cascades and doesn't post on the internet, did it even happen?
Jim Oker
Moderator
Offline

Posts: 1511


Re: Jan 25-26, 2014, Baker via heliotrope and accident
« Reply #9 on: 01/28/14, 12:20 AM »

Patrick - thanks for sharing your tale, and I'm of course happy to read that you guys got down and will hopefully recover fully (though the shoulder may never be quite the same if it's your first dislocation of it).

I'm guessing you don't think the responses are overly harsh. A good friend who helped introduce me to the NW mountains almost 20 years ago hammered home for me that, even with regular practice, ice axes aren't magic, and as a few others have noted, won't guarantee and arrest, even if you have done plenty of good practice. Even on firm snow, let alone shiny ice. I've fortunately only seen this lesson in action once, on fairly steep snow that was balling up on our crampons yet still quite firm below the thin mush - fortunately my partner didn't go too far before landing injury-free in some dirt and rocks (I was the slowest descender in our party as I was not trusting a single step - was testing for balling with each foot placement before committing weight, which became rather tedious and tiring). Sure, practice arrest more, but don't assume that the outcome here would necessarily have been different once the slides started.†

I hate steep snow and ice exposure w/o my skis on my feet!
« Last Edit: 01/28/14, 08:49 AM by Jim Oker » Logged
Oyvind_Henningsen
Member
Offline

Posts: 324


Re: Jan 25-26, 2014, Baker via heliotrope and accident
« Reply #10 on: 01/28/14, 06:46 AM »

I am so happy that you are safe and sound and can gain and learn from this experience.

During this dry period our area from Rainier to Baker has experienced a high rate of accidents resulting from slip on hard snow.  It is easy to underestimate the lack of friction and the result of a slip.

Lets hope we get some of the white stuff soon !
Logged

Lytt til erfarne fjellfolk!
thatoneguydave
5Member
Offline

Posts: 92


Re: Jan 25-26, 2014, Baker via heliotrope and accident
« Reply #11 on: 01/28/14, 08:41 AM »

Patrick thanks for sharing your story and I'm glad that you and Sarah walked away with only the injuries you received.  I've met you once before with Erik at Second Ascent, but was looking forward to a day of climbing with you and Sarah on Baker.  While we were aborting our trip and dealing with the ice we were constantly wondering what you two would end up deciding to do once you saw the conditions or if we would run into on the way out.

There is a lot to learn from personal experience and others stories in the mountains this weekend.  This can only be done by people sharing their stories for all to take note of whether good or bad.  Thanks for posting the details of yours.  During our car ride home I had already started to think about the situation, the what ifs, the what should we have done, and such.  I mentally took a lot of notes from our trip and your trip report and hope it leads to better decision making and thought process next time.

Glad your OK. 
Logged
Stefan
Member
Offline

Posts: 128


Re: Jan 25-26, 2014, Baker via heliotrope and accident
« Reply #12 on: 01/28/14, 09:07 AM »

thanks Patrick for telling your story.  I am happy for you for the positive outcome on what could have been worse.

Keep getting out!
Logged
Jason4
Member
Offline

Posts: 266


Re: Jan 25-26, 2014, Baker via heliotrope and accident
« Reply #13 on: 01/28/14, 11:40 AM »

Thanks for sharing the details and lessons.  I've heard rumors of a few of the other accidents that Oyvind mentioned this weekend from a couple of different sources but your's is the first that I've seen details of on the internet or the news.

I'm happy for you that you both got out in relatively good shape.
Logged

Free your heel, free your mind.
Fix your heel, fix your problem.
- Pred, 2013
Good2Go
Member
Offline

Posts: 261


Re: Jan 25-26, 2014, Baker via heliotrope and accident
« Reply #14 on: 01/28/14, 12:51 PM »

The conditions you were facing were unusual for that spot, especially this time of year, and sounds like it was borderline in terms of what tools/practices were required under the circumstances for safe travel.  My understanding is that similar conditions and circumstances (e.g., underestimating the risk of a simple slip) resulted in the death of the Rainier climbing ranger a couple years ago (i.e., it can happen to anyone).  Knowing when to employ additional safety measures is an art, and we likely all get lucky sometimes in making the more expedient choice.  Thanks for the reminder.
Logged
Snoqualmonix
Member
Offline

Posts: 294


WWW
Re: Jan 25-26, 2014, Baker via heliotrope and accident
« Reply #15 on: 01/28/14, 02:23 PM »

Knowing when to employ additional safety measures is an art, and we likely all get lucky sometimes in making the more expedient choice.† Thanks for the reminder.

Well said.  Pure luck is sometimes a good check for the ego.  I never used to believe in luck, until the mountains made me.
Logged

-----------------
"Point your tips and be brave"

If someone skis in the Cascades and doesn't post on the internet, did it even happen?
oldman takealookat
1Member
Offline

Posts: 1


Re: Jan 25-26, 2014, Baker via heliotrope and accident
« Reply #16 on: 01/28/14, 02:28 PM »

I am going to be harsh...

... people need to re-evaluate their evaluation of their skills.† While rare in these parts, such conditions are part of ski touring and most certainly part of ski-mountaineering.† Ice axe arrests are a poor substitute for footwork, with and without crampons.

T.Eastman,
Did you ever have one of those alpine experiences that enabled you to realize all that you didn't know? †If not, how did you come by that realization? †I'm truly curious, as I'm another one who had to learn the hard way. †
Logged
String
5Member
Offline

Posts: 18


Re: Jan 25-26, 2014, Baker via heliotrope and accident
« Reply #17 on: 01/28/14, 05:42 PM »

Yeesh, I feel your pain. Mine popped out on the park headwall last may. That ride down and walk out was the worst. Here's to a speedy recovery and some good old fashinoed pt!
Logged
glenn_b
Member
Offline

Posts: 311


Re: Jan 25-26, 2014, Baker via heliotrope and accident
« Reply #18 on: 01/28/14, 07:26 PM »

Thank you, Patrick, for sharing your story that others might learn.
Wishing you a speedy recovery and happy tours afterwards.
Logged
T. Eastman
Member
Offline

Posts: 439


Re: Jan 25-26, 2014, Baker via heliotrope and accident
« Reply #19 on: 01/28/14, 08:09 PM »

Quote
Did you ever have one of those alpine experiences that enabled you to realize all that you didn't know?  If not, how did you come by that realization?  I'm truly curious, as I'm another one who had to learn the hard way. 

We all learn from mistakes but also from the culture of sport and the mentors we encountered early in the ongoing learning process.  I was fortunate to have safety drilled into my head from an early age when developing as a climber, mountaineer, and a skier.  Crucial to that was that when looking at accidents, it seemed as though most accidents occurred during routine trips when either someone spaced out, was tired, or when conditions were not as anticipated.  Take away from that was that you must always be cautious and the mountain will kill you given a chance.

I did become somewhat skilled at these pursuits and spent plenty of time in the shooting gallery taking chances.  Yes there were some close calls and insights were gained.  Importantly though, I early on decided that some goals were worth risking a lot for and others were not.  Essentially, when deciding to do something that pushed my limits I was willing to accept the risks as part of the game.  But, I did not want to spend each day climbing, mountaineering, or skiing as time spent in the shooting gallery.  I felt that there was loads to be learned from being out doing these activities at a lower risk and technical level on a frequent basis than constantly exposing myself and friends to those risks on a near daily basis.

Development of skills is not dependent on constant risk exposure and time spent observing the mountains offers tremendous lessons in snow and weather behavior.

Most importantly, I refuse to this day to think I am an expert at any of these things; rather I think I have spent time on the crags and in the mountains but I am still learning every trip.

Todd
Logged
n16ht5
Member
Offline

Posts: 161


Re: Jan 25-26, 2014, Baker via heliotrope and accident
« Reply #20 on: 01/29/14, 10:19 AM »

thanks for sharing your story, glad you made it out. We can all learn from your experience to better prepare ourselves. I think every person here has been up on a mountain and at some point in their life made a potentially fatal mistake.

I was up on Baker the weekend before just for some day sled skiing, and turned back not far above where the sheet of ice started, even as I watched several people continue on. I knew that I would definitely not feel comfortable at all climbing to the summit with the expectation to ski the mountain in an even remotely safe way. I always do a double check on my skill level when assessing conditions, I have been in over my head before.
Logged
chmnyboy
Member
Offline

Posts: 269


Re: Jan 25-26, 2014, Baker via heliotrope and accident
« Reply #21 on: 01/29/14, 11:29 AM »

Man, at least you summited before the incident!

Joking aside, you might want to reassess your opinion of a skilled ski mountaineer not needing ice or crampon expertise. Without that, you're a freeskier.

T.Eastman,
Did you ever have one of those alpine experiences that enabled you to realize all that you didn't know? †If not, how did you come by that realization? †I'm truly curious, as I'm another one who had to learn the hard way. †

I don't think T.Eastman was criticizing patrick for making a mistake - you're right, most everyone screws up and learns the hard way. To me, what stands out in the original post (and I think this is what T.Eastman was getting at) is the lesson learned, that "being a skilled ski mountaineer does not make you competent on ice and crampons." In my opinion, the lesson learned should have been "as a ski mountaineer, I should brush up on my crampon/ice ax skillz, be able to assess an icy slope before my party gets on it, and decide if we should ski it or put on crampons.

I've also never met T.Eastman, so there is a very real possibility that he is a jackass know-it-all, but that's not how I read his post.
Logged
samoon
5Member
Offline

Posts: 58


Re: Jan 25-26, 2014, Baker via heliotrope and accident
« Reply #22 on: 01/29/14, 11:40 AM »

We all learn from mistakes but also from the culture of sport and the mentors we encountered early in the ongoing learning process.† I was fortunate to have safety drilled into my head from an early age when developing as a climber, mountaineer, and a skier.† Crucial to that was that when looking at accidents, it seemed as though most accidents occurred during routine trips when either someone spaced out, was tired, or when conditions were not as anticipated.† Take away from that was that you must always be cautious and the mountain will kill you given a chance.

[/quote

as always TEastman, who's your captain?.....anybody that posts to this site should appreciate any subtle expertise that you may so cautiously provide....this season reminds me of the 2004/05 winter, when we got 400" in April....that's when the real season will begin.
Logged
Mofro
Member
Offline

Posts: 301


Re: Jan 25-26, 2014, Baker via heliotrope and accident
« Reply #23 on: 01/29/14, 12:09 PM »

Crucial to that was that when looking at accidents, it seemed as though most accidents occurred during routine trips when either someone spaced out, was tired, or when conditions were not as anticipated.† Take away from that was that you must always be cautious and the mountain will kill you given a chance.

Just to add one more- not altering or changing objectives in the face of sub-optimal or down right dangerous conditions, be it trying to ski the big line right after a big storm or being on a slope with minimal purchase.

I understand the draw of the outdoors, the sense of self-accomplishment of attaining the objective, all while trying to fit in in to the weather window provided and doing it under the time constraints that life throws at us. At the same time, I am sort of mystified at the number of reports of people out tackling objectives under "survival skiing" and "slide for life" or generally unfavorable conditions. When does the reward outweigh the consequence the when the risk is unnecessarily high? 
Logged

not always bad
burns-all-year
Member
Offline

Posts: 108


Re: Jan 25-26, 2014, Baker via heliotrope and accident
« Reply #24 on: 01/29/14, 12:30 PM »

^^^^I've been thinking the same thing:  mystified by the willingness to tackle these objectives with inappropriate gear.  Does the ability to post a trip report on the net affect decision-making for these people?  Inexperience?  High risk tolerance?  Can't be just plain stupidity.  I wonder....
Logged

FAWNING ACOLYTE
Jason4
Member
Offline

Posts: 266


Re: Jan 25-26, 2014, Baker via heliotrope and accident
« Reply #25 on: 01/29/14, 01:13 PM »

^^^^I've been thinking the same thing:  mystified by the willingness to tackle these objectives with inappropriate gear.† Does the ability to post a trip report on the net affect decision-making for these people?† Inexperience?† High risk tolerance?† Can't be just plain stupidity.† I wonder....

I went rock climbing this weekend instead of out in the snow but I was out on the 18th and 19th and found that conditions were very good for fast travel if you had experience and were quick with transitions.  They also would have been great conditions to gain experience if the route and destination were modified to reflect that.  My climbing partner and I debated between rocks or snow and if it had been snow we probably would have left the splitboards at home and just gone light with mountaineering boots/'pons.

It would have been a great time to get out with route/objectives/tools modified to reflect the conditions.
Logged

Free your heel, free your mind.
Fix your heel, fix your problem.
- Pred, 2013
aaron_wright
Member
Offline

Posts: 573


Re: Jan 25-26, 2014, Baker via heliotrope and accident
« Reply #26 on: 01/29/14, 05:13 PM »

Just to add one more- not altering or changing objectives in the face of sub-optimal or down right dangerous conditions, be it trying to ski the big line right after a big storm or being on a slope with minimal purchase.

I understand the draw of the outdoors, the sense of self-accomplishment of attaining the objective, all while trying to fit in in to the weather window provided and doing it under the time constraints that life throws at us. At the same time, I am sort of mystified at the number of reports of people out tackling objectives under "survival skiing" and "slide for life" or generally unfavorable conditions. When does the reward outweigh the consequence the when the risk is unnecessarily high?†
Well said. I wonder about this all the time.
People out doing things in high consequence conditions because "we made a plan" or "this is my only free time".
I'm spoiled because I can pick and choose days, but I wonder why more people don't bail or back off to a less consequential objective more often.
Logged
patrick
5Member
Offline

Posts: 44


Re: Jan 25-26, 2014, Baker via heliotrope and accident
« Reply #27 on: 01/29/14, 06:56 PM »

I wanted to respond to burns-all-year et al, who were probably generous in searching for explanations beyond stupidity.  I hope it's helpful to parse our particular instance of stupidity. You'll have to take my word that we're not in general inexperienced, drooling idiots or red bull-slamming adrenaline junkies - rather, we fell prey to a number of heuristic traps.  Here are some that I can think of.  Don't read this as a defense - remember: "stupid." 
- Easy travel lulled us into complacency.  The slippery layer was thin and easy to plunge through, and the sliding danger just wasn't visceral.  We failed to internalize way too many warning signs of this danger.  Plus the day was almost over, we were almost down, etc, etc.
- I had total confidence in my footing pretty much the whole trip; Sarah felt less comfortable.  This confidence was, again, visceral, and I let my own comfort guide my decisions for the group.  I'm sure this wasn't the first time I've fallen into that trap.
- Casting wild accusations at my wife now, I'm guessing that she suffered from a different heuristic trap associated with being the less-experienced partner.  Perhaps she trusted my decisions too much despite her own discomfort?  (This one is clearly mainly my fault.)  And of course the average guy in her place also would have been trying to prove his manliness by silently soldiering on. 

I'm sure there are about a dozen other heuristic traps I haven't even realized we fell into.  I hereby welcome wild speculation from the community, politely asking that you take my word for it about red bull consumption and drooling. 

I've been thinking about how much safe practices are habit-based.  When avalanche danger is a concern I have extensive safety practices that I do automatically - constantly evaluating terrain and snow, well-considered rules for skiing or bailing, etc...  I just haven't developed habits for this particular danger.  It's easy to think that you'll always make good decisions - it's not like this stuff is rocket science - but when you're tired, thirsty, and experiencing whatever moods the mountains inspire, you may fail to reason it all out from first principles or even realize the danger at all.  So maybe a lesson is that when you're outside your realm of experience, pause every now and then and take stock of the dangers and probabilites.

Finally, I wanted to express my appreciation for the generally positive and substantive conversation here.  People have shared a lot of years of experience, largely without smugness or condescension.  That sort of prevailing tone made it easy to broadcast my own mistake on a public forum, and I hope others (and ideally not me) will feel comfortable doing the same in the future. 
Logged
danpeck
Member
Offline

Posts: 504


Re: Jan 25-26, 2014, Baker via heliotrope and accident
« Reply #28 on: 01/29/14, 09:15 PM »

This is a great conversation:  Thank you for starting it and for sharing your experience.

I think all of us overestimate our skills.  Or at least, maintain an optimistic outlook that we will know how to keep ourselves safe. 

Your story will help all of us be more carful and humble and saferÖ so THANK YOU for that.

Logged
burns-all-year
Member
Offline

Posts: 108


Re: Jan 25-26, 2014, Baker via heliotrope and accident
« Reply #29 on: 01/30/14, 07:52 AM »

If you're able to kick steps easily, and the slick layer is thin, I can easily imagine how you would feel safe.  Didn't mean to imply that you were stupid.  And don't dis da Red Bull:  it's a good substitute for coffee in one half of a hippy speedball!
Logged

FAWNING ACOLYTE
water
5Member
Offline

Posts: 74


Re: Jan 25-26, 2014, Baker via heliotrope and accident
« Reply #30 on: 01/30/14, 12:47 PM »

Just to add one more- not altering or changing objectives in the face of sub-optimal or down right dangerous conditions, be it trying to ski the big line right after a big storm or being on a slope with minimal purchase.

I understand the draw of the outdoors, the sense of self-accomplishment of attaining the objective, all while trying to fit in in to the weather window provided and doing it under the time constraints that life throws at us. At the same time, I am sort of mystified at the number of reports of people out tackling objectives under "survival skiing" and "slide for life" or generally unfavorable conditions. When does the reward outweigh the consequence the when the risk is unnecessarily high?†

Well said. I wonder about this all the time.
People out doing things in high consequence conditions because "we made a plan" or "this is my only free time".
I'm spoiled because I can pick and choose days, but I wonder why more people don't bail or back off to a less consequential objective more often.


One thing about that - you don't see the trip reports for the days people didn't go out, right? The amount of times I've backed off an objective or turned around shy, or entirely scrapped a climb in the face of weather or avy concerns is huge. I still have gotten out tons, but I barely post half my trips, let alone mentioning when things didn't go as planned or got scrapped due to conditions within an hour - few hours of starting, let alone the times I said, nope, I'll be in town this weekend, even though our schedules were lined up.

If its a high avy weekend and 3 TRs go up... involving 10 people total, it can certainly skew a perspective that 'people are getting out'. Likewise a tough weather/conditions day out on a mnt all it takes is seeing one group or person to shake your head and say 'what are those yahoos think they're doing??' but there are no telling how many other potential yahoos aren't there because they still had enough judgment to make a call before ever getting there.

just a thought. I certainly wonder when I see certain climbing or skiing TRsóbut really other than conditions info it always comes down to me who is the biggest advocate for my own decision making, nobody else, so.. while I lament and get frustrated when trips are cut short, primary objectives unreached, weather trashes my fixed 'weekend' time to get out, I am pretty consoled by the fact that I'm alive, happy, and the mountains aren't going anywhere.


Logged
savegondor
Member
Offline

Posts: 443


Re: Jan 25-26, 2014, Baker via heliotrope and accident
« Reply #31 on: 01/30/14, 01:53 PM »


One thing about that - you don't see the trip reports for the days people didn't go out, right? The amount of times I've backed off an objective or turned around shy, or entirely scrapped a climb in the face of weather or avy concerns is huge. I still have gotten out tons, but I barely post half my trips, let alone mentioning when things didn't go as planned or got scrapped due to conditions within an hour - few hours of starting, let alone the times I said, nope, I'll be in town this weekend, even though our schedules were lined up.

If its a high avy weekend and 3 TRs go up... involving 10 people total, it can certainly skew a perspective that 'people are getting out'. Likewise a tough weather/conditions day out on a mnt all it takes is seeing one group or person to shake your head and say 'what are those yahoos think they're doing??' but there are no telling how many other potential yahoos aren't there because they still had enough judgment to make a call before ever getting there.

just a thought. I certainly wonder when I see certain climbing or skiing TRsóbut really other than conditions info it always comes down to me who is the biggest advocate for my own decision making, nobody else, so.. while I lament and get frustrated when trips are cut short, primary objectives unreached, weather trashes my fixed 'weekend' time to get out, I am pretty consoled by the fact that I'm alive, happy, and the mountains aren't going anywhere.




I'm not so quick on the whole heuristic traps sort of thing.  While those certainly could have been valid mistakes so also could have been taking those extra precautions or...not.  I have chosen to slide down an ice gully before without increased protections because I judged twisting a knee in the dark in slide alder to be the greater risk as I was in a hurry to get to my car because I was getting cold and I was hungry and was not thinking strait.  In which case my decision 4 hours earlier to skip snack time on the bench was the real error in judgement, an error which cascaded to a series of ill thought out decisions. 

So, not carrying a sugar stim in your front pockets could have been the most important mistake...what WERE you thinking about at the time before the accident?
Logged
aaron_wright
Member
Offline

Posts: 573


Re: Jan 25-26, 2014, Baker via heliotrope and accident
« Reply #32 on: 01/30/14, 02:22 PM »


One thing about that - you don't see the trip reports for the days people didn't go out, right? The amount of times I've backed off an objective or turned around shy, or entirely scrapped a climb in the face of weather or avy concerns is huge. I still have gotten out tons, but I barely post half my trips, let alone mentioning when things didn't go as planned or got scrapped due to conditions within an hour - few hours of starting, let alone the times I said, nope, I'll be in town this weekend, even though our schedules were lined up.

If its a high avy weekend and 3 TRs go up... involving 10 people total, it can certainly skew a perspective that 'people are getting out'. Likewise a tough weather/conditions day out on a mnt all it takes is seeing one group or person to shake your head and say 'what are those yahoos think they're doing??' but there are no telling how many other potential yahoos aren't there because they still had enough judgment to make a call before ever getting there.

just a thought. I certainly wonder when I see certain climbing or skiing TRsóbut really other than conditions info it always comes down to me who is the biggest advocate for my own decision making, nobody else, so.. while I lament and get frustrated when trips are cut short, primary objectives unreached, weather trashes my fixed 'weekend' time to get out, I am pretty consoled by the fact that I'm alive, happy, and the mountains aren't going anywhere.



Well I wasn't really talking about here so much as people I actually know.
Logged
Neuro
1Member
Offline

Posts: 1


Re: Jan 25-26, 2014, Baker via heliotrope and accident
« Reply #33 on: 01/31/14, 03:41 PM »

Hey Patrick,

It's Adrian from the friendly crew of Canadians. Glad† to hear the damage to your shoulder wasn't too serious and hope you're making a quick recovery.
Logged
zeroforhire
Member
Offline

Posts: 164


Re: Jan 25-26, 2014, Baker via heliotrope and accident
« Reply #34 on: 02/01/14, 08:41 AM »

^ Awesome of you to help out. 

Glad to hear the OP and his wife are relatively ok.  Thanks for much for sharing your experiences.  No sense being judgmental, we should all be grateful that things turned out as well as they did.
Logged

rlsg
Member
Offline

Posts: 516


Re: Jan 25-26, 2014, Baker via heliotrope and accident
« Reply #35 on: 02/01/14, 06:39 PM »

Being good at self-belaying is soooo important!!!
Logged
T. Eastman
Member
Offline

Posts: 439


Re: Jan 25-26, 2014, Baker via heliotrope and accident
« Reply #36 on: 02/07/14, 10:04 PM »

Quote
as always TEastman, who's your captain?

"This Is Your Captain Singing"† NYTIMES 2/7/14
Logged
Pages: 1 2 [All] | Go Up Print 
« previous next »
Jump to:  



Login with username, password and session length

Thank you to our sponsors!
click to visit our sponsor: Feathered Friends
Feathered Friends
click to visit our sponsor: Marmot Mountain Works
Marmot Mountain Works
click to visit our sponsor: Second Ascent
Second Ascent
click to visit our sponsor: American Alpine Institute
American Alpine Institute
click to visit our sponsor: Pro Guiding Service
Pro Guiding Service
Contact turns-all-year.com

Turns All Year Trip Reports ©2001-2010 Turns All Year LLC. All Rights Reserved

The opinions expressed in posts are those of the poster and do not necessarily
reflect the opinions of Trip Reports administrators or Turns All Year LLC


Turns All Year Trip Reports | Powered by SMF 1.0.6.
© 2001-2005, Lewis Media. All Rights Reserved.