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comment by WanderingEng
WanderingEng  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Death in the Alpine

That was a good read. I've been reading about misadventure in the presidential range of the White Mountains of New Hampshire. The book basically goes through how people have died on Mount Washington for hundreds of years. Why did amateurs hike up dangerous mountains in the 19th century? Bragging rights had to be part of it. Social media just meant "Mrs Smith's parlor." While Instagram doesn't show the danger, it does show how positive the outdoors can be. I think that provides a lot of value to people who didn't know what was out there.

It's easy to armchair quarterback the two people here, so I'm going to try not to. I've probably made dumb decisions that weren't fatal. I can still picture working my way across an icy cross sloped ledge with a bad long slide if I'd slid. Shit's dangerous.




demure  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

The White Mountains are no joke. On a summer trip I got caught out with a rain that turned from mild to not-fun over the span of an hour, with large wind gusts catching us on exposed ridge for a couple miles until we could go below treeline again.

WanderingEng  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

The more I read about the Whites, I'm a little surprised how different they sound from the Adirondacks. It's like that additional 800' of elevation of the highest handful of peaks makes all the difference with long exposed ridges. In the Adirondacks you might get a mile of being exposed, but it dips back down into the trees pretty quickly. And a mile catches plenty of people off guard. I can think of two pretty serious but thankfully successful rescues because people got stuck above the treeline just in that short distance.

ButterflyEffect  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

That seems like a very interesting book. Used copies are cheap, too...there's always been underprepared, dumb, or flat out unlucky people on mountains. A key point of this article is the "numbing" of how dangerous these things really can be just because you see a lot of pictures on social media. "If person 'X' can do it, so can I"! We post the highlights, but not the conditioning work, route research, and gear prep that goes into these things. Maybe we should be posting those.

I've made dumb decisions/mistakes, too. Or had to follow those made of a group, such as this past weekend going down a "shortcut" with little bootpath and a melting lake well, well below us. With people glissading when there's clearly a trickle of running water,and semi-exposed boulders and trees. I was necessarily unhappy and not participatory in that way of getting down.

WanderingEng  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

If you don't mind waiting a week or two for me to finish it (I don't read regularly enough to just plow through it), I'll mail it to you along with this one about the Adirondacks..

After reading the article you linked here, "shortcut" sounds chilling. The bit about "if it was safe and shorter, it would be the main route" says a lot.

I'm always afraid to take pictures of difficult parts. I'm a bit superstitious. Outbound, it feels like I'm going to be found dead at the bottom and the article written about me will say "his last act was to photograph the section that killed him, probably to share on social media." And on the return, it's behind me and quickly out of my mind.

ButterflyEffect  ·  10 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I can definitely wait, and would be happy to take you up on that offer! Unrelated, but have you seen Meru?

WanderingEng  ·  10 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I haven't! It's worth seeing?

ButterflyEffect  ·  10 days ago  ·  link  ·  

100% yes. Amazing film, you'll love it.

oyster  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

A lot of people don’t really understand how different the weather in the mountains can be and the average traveler did next to no research about the area before arriving. Most of the trails here are still snowbound and cross avalanche terrain. I’ve had arguments with people who are asking me about hikes that are closed for good reason that still want to go up. I’m doing them a favour, telling them there’s risk of avalanches and they want to downplay the danger so they don’t waste the trip they booked without planning. I don’t really know if there’s anyway to get through to those people before they make the trip in popular tourist destinations. As long as they stick to popular hikes during peak times they’ll be fine but there’s always people who assume summer where they are from is summer in the mountains.

WanderingEng  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Or that spring in the valley means spring 3000' higher. A hiker in New York died two years ago while poorly dressed. I was there within a week of her, and at the trailheads there was as much grass as snow. 500' higher, and it was full on winter. She died, so we can't ask why she was wearing what she had, but getting into conditions she didn't think would be there seems likely.

oyster  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    and at the trailheads there was as much grass as snow.

This is definitely one of those things that screws people up. I was doing a hike years back that I had done many times before and ended up getting hailed on hard. It was a beautiful day out and only sprinkled rain in the town we had only really hiked 15 minutes away from. That was like July, the mountains are unpredictable. The hike itself lead to a beautiful lake but it was the third time before I was able to make it the whole way because we kept hiking up to winter. Even that time we couldn’t walk around the lake because it was still snowy so we jumped in and went back down. The good thing about that hike though is there is also a waterfall or look out to consider as the destination. It also helps that I lived in the town for the summer so I never felt a need to push through bad conditions.

People ask all the time what to wear for hikes here and my answer has never changed, wear what your comfortable in now and then bring a pack filled with clothing for every possibility. That’s why all the expensive lightweight clothing is so worth the money.

WanderingEng  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I'm also a proponent of packing for what's possible. I've carried extra winter layers up and back down every time and, I think, never worn them. I've done the same with rain gear, tops and bottoms, since they also make good wind blocks.

The idea I follow is that the mountains will still be there tomorrow, next month, next year. Better to be safe and come back another time.