Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Mother Nature Will Kill You.

Nope. Not Mt. Hood. This is the Eastern Sierra, California, Sawtooth range. Some really nice 12,000+ foot peaks to crawl in the winter. The 14,000 footers are a little further south and more hospitable in the summer.

Hiker rescued after 6 days stranded on Oregon's Mt. Hood

That headline from the Los Angeles Times should never have been needed because:

(a) it could have been avoided and,
(b) even if it could not have been avoided, it never should have taken six days for a rescue.
“ 'I’d be walking, and these big crags would come looming out of the mist. It was eerie, kind of weirdly surreal, almost like walking through a dream,' Mary Owen said Monday. She spent six days awaiting rescue from the snowy peak after she became disoriented and took a crippling fall."
First of all, if you go extreme trekking alone, you better be really good. Three-season stuff is pretty easy. Winter? Be good or ....

Second, never, ever, EVER wander around in a whiteout.

Just stop the hell.


If you're out there on your own, you ought to have a compass and a GPS and a MAP! Yes, a frigging, hard-copy map.

Every branch of the military knows that when your GPS and all your fancy electronics are fried or blown all to hell, your compass (and a sextant if you're at sea or in the air) work miracles.

But only if you know how to use them.

Before you need them

If you can't plot your position on a map and determine where you are by topographical features and navigate with a compass, then just STAY THE HELL AT HOME!

Look, I am sorry the hiker got into a jam, but good trekking skills and a little common sense would have prevented this ....

Okay, common sense tells you to stop wandering around in a white-out.

If you want to defy that, then you should have a compass, a map and a watch that has an accurate altimeter so you have a clear idea of up and down. Yep, it's easy to mix up the up and down thing in a whiteout.

You also better have a GPS, and have it lay down a track for you. If worst doesn't come to worst and you decide to head back, then follow the track.

Third, if you go alone, never go alone.

Say what?

I go trekking alone a lot. With compass and map.

And Spot.

Which is not Finnegan my Chocolate Lab

No, in this case, Spot is a GPS tracker with an emergency



Push it and people come.

Right then. Not six days later when you may be dead.

And the rescuers have your latitude and longitude and don't have to look for you all over hell and gone ... all the time risking their own injuries and need for rescue.

See Make Spot GPS More Accurate for details on Spot, as well as: Snowbound woman survived on tomatoes, boyfriend dies.

No, I am not lacking in sympathy. I am sorry that bad things happen to people when they tackle the mountain (Respect The Mountain!)

But going to the mountain unprepared is like trying to hand-feed a Grizzly or a Polar Bear because they look cute like a really big plush toy.

So, sympathetic or not, I get frustrated because I have been involved in Search and Rescue on land and in the ocean. And S&R personnel frequently risk their lives -- and sometimes are injured or die -- trying to help people who went out UNprepared and UNinformed.

I've been doing this for 50 years. But I never go to the mountain without Spot or to the ocean without an EPIRB, aka  personal locator beacon.

Because Nature will show you just how far down on the food chain you really are. Nature will kill you and, like the Honey Badger, just don't care.

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