Missing Climber in the White Mountains NH

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madmattd
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Re: Missing Climber in the White Mountains NH

Post by madmattd »

geojed wrote: Thu Dec 01, 2022 7:57 am The first article says her body was found on NW face and the map incorrectly has the dot for the location her body was found on the NE face. The route they have highlighted jives with the route/scenario madmattd described.
Yep, that first article is in-line with other articles I had seen, and is what I based my scenario off of (once moving the pin to the area consistently described as where the body was found). That is by a huge amount the most common way to do those peaks (Little Haystack-Lincoln-Lafayette), and the missed left turn off Lafayette has happened many times before (the article briefly mentions one of those incidents):
“This has happened before in the exact same area where she went off track in 2021. Luckily those guys got through by thawing their cell phones under their armpits and SAR found them before they froze,” her friend and fellow hiker Brian Garvey said.
Obviously she could have opted to do this loop CW (Lafayette-Lincoln-Little Haystack), and it is totally doable that way as well, just not the common way to do them. Liberty and Flume are usually done as their own separate day hike, of roughly similar stats to the other loop. However, if she was planning to add Liberty and/or Flume, then CW would be the logical route to take: once at Little Haystack you can evaluate time, conditions, etc and decide to continue to Liberty/Flume or head down the Falling Waters Trail. I've done all 4 main peaks in a day numerous times, it's a far bigger day than the Lincoln-Lafayette Loop, but great fun on a nice weather day. The best option is to have a car spot at Lincoln Woods and descent the Osseo Trail from Flume. Descending the Flume Slide Trail (Westward) is generally not advised at any time of the year (a few in this thread have referenced that trail), but backtracking to Liberty and descending the Liberty Springs Trail to the West is an option (with ~500' of reascent up Liberty mind you). There's a bike path that connects back to the Old Bridle Path Trailhead if you don't have a car spot. All 4 peaks done without a car spot in this fashion is a ~15mi/5500' day as I recall. Not something most "newer" hikers attempt, especially in such conditions, but it's not unheard of.
Out west is obviously a different animal than hiking in the east due to the elevation. However, finding good days to hike in the east, particularly the northeast, aren’t as common as in the west. In the colder months out west it is often windy. In the colder months in the east it is almost always windy. There are plenty of sunny days out west. In the east, sunny days are very rare in the colder months.
Yes. Many of us back East had a term we referred to as "Presi Day". Such a day would be calm enough, clear enough, and warm enough to entertain lengthy treks above treeline in the Presidential Range (or similar alpine sections such as the Lincoln-Lafayette Loop, Bonds). There are very few of those days most winters.
lbethel
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Re: Missing Climber in the White Mountains NH

Post by lbethel »

If you've hike Mt. Lafayette in the summer or even on a clear winter day its hard to imagine how it could be so different at times. The final approach up the northwest side is a class 1 hike up a moderately steep slope that is well marked. But in winter its often very different. Its completely featureless with snow filling in between the rocks. There's often a whiteout even when its not snowing, with snow blowing sideways at 20 to 30 MPH. Navigation becomes very difficult and a touch screen can not be used. The trail is not straight and once you loose the trail its very difficult to know which way to go.

At those temperatures, on a steep slope without snow gear, with low visibility, once you loose the trail you're in some real difficulty.

Another consideration is that the weather had been warm earlier in the week, and there was a small amount of snow at the trail head. I saw a guy in the same area that weekend wearing sneakers with snow in them heading up a steep slope late in the day. In the past I've said something in those circumstances but this time I didn't say anything.

Its hard to know what to say to people who are heading into difficulty.
Last edited by lbethel on Fri Dec 02, 2022 6:14 am, edited 2 times in total.
onebyone
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Re: Missing Climber in the White Mountains NH

Post by onebyone »

lbethel wrote: Thu Dec 01, 2022 2:02 pm She hiked the trail at the link below which is one of the most hiked trails in the white mountains and is climbed almost every day of the year. She hiked counter clockwise which is the standard direction, but not always the best way in winter. There was no snow on the ground that day in Lincoln and only a small amount at the trail head. The temperature at the trail head that morning was in the single digits. The hike up the falling waters trail would have been difficult without snow spikes but doable. it was very windy above tree line with wind chill well below zero. There was probably very little snow on the ridge from Little Haystack across Lincoln to the summit of Lafayette so that the trail was easy to follow. The wind was out of the north so that she was walking into a 20 to 30 MPH headwind. The northwest side of Lafayette had a lot more snow and the trail was difficult to discern, with blowing snow leading to very limited visibility. The slope is steep and very consistent so that there are no rocks or features to help with footing when its snow covered. This part of the trail is very easy in summer but can be extremely difficult in winter. Its also not straight and can be difficult to follow. Its very easy to get off trail and not know where the trail is. Its not possible to use a phone for navigation when the snow is blowing that hard. At the summit of Lafayette she was less than 1/3 mile from a segment of trail with low scrub that is easy to follow and somewhat less windy. There's a temptation to think "if I can only make it this next 1/3 mile I'm in the clear. And its much further if I turn back'.

At those temperatures, on a steep slope without snow gear, with low visibility, once you loose the trail you're in some real difficulty.

https://www.alltrails.com/explore/trail ... trail-loop


Did you come across something to confirm this? The mother said she was doing it clockwise with Lafayette first, which of course can be mistaken. What you are saying makes sense to my brain, but just curious if you are just guessing or saw an official report or something. thanks
lbethel
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Re: Missing Climber in the White Mountains NH

Post by lbethel »

I was going by the reports on Boston.com and my experience from being up there that weekend but it seems there's some contradictory information out there. I'll delete my post
onebyone
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Re: Missing Climber in the White Mountains NH

Post by onebyone »

lbethel wrote: Thu Dec 01, 2022 5:06 pm I was going by the reports on Boston.com and my experience from being up there that weekend but it seems there's some contradictory information out there. I'll delete my post

No need to delete. I believe that almost everyone does in counter clockwise like you said.

Just find the whole story baffling with all the conflicting info. We have someone who has climbed 45/48 of these peaks in the state. Was clearly in good shape. From MA so knows the mountains of NH. Sure, maybe not so much winter experience but certainly not clueless.

She gets dropped off, has trail running shoes and fairly minimum gear, then supposedly does the route in the opposite direction than what almost everyone else does.
And we don't even know what she actually climbed, if anything.

Sorry for all the posts, I'm just bewildered.
Skimo95
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Re: Missing Climber in the White Mountains NH

Post by Skimo95 »

I am very sorry for the friends and family involved. I’m even more apologetic for the speculation surrounding decision-making and so forth. If the family is reading this I apologize on the behalf of 14ers.com, more specifically the know-it-alls and their lack of empathy.
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Re: Missing Climber in the White Mountains NH

Post by onebyone »

Skimo95 wrote: Thu Dec 01, 2022 6:32 pm I am very sorry for the friends and family involved. I’m even more apologetic for the speculation surrounding decision-making and so forth. If the family is reading this I apologize on the behalf of 14ers.com, more specifically the know-it-alls and their lack of empathy.
This thread has been incredibly respectful. Nobody is insulting the deceased. The problem here is the reporting has created the speculation since it has all significantly contradicted itself. There still has been no official SAR report.

Other places have been very unkind. Maybe you haven’t followed. Which I think is wrong and total BS.
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dan0rama
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Re: Missing Climber in the White Mountains NH

Post by dan0rama »

Skimo95 wrote: Thu Dec 01, 2022 6:32 pm I am very sorry for the friends and family involved. I’m even more apologetic for the speculation surrounding decision-making and so forth. If the family is reading this I apologize on the behalf of 14ers.com, more specifically the know-it-alls and their lack of empathy.
And the self-righteous performance award for most virtue signaling goes to… =D>
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greenonion
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Re: Missing Climber in the White Mountains NH

Post by greenonion »

Istoodupthere wrote: Thu Dec 01, 2022 11:25 am Out west is obviously a different animal than hiking in the east due to the elevation. However, finding good days to hike in the east, particularly the northeast, aren’t as common as in the west. In the colder months out west it is often windy. In the colder months in the east it is almost always windy. There are plenty of sunny days out west. In the east, sunny days are very rare in the colder months. Others have brought up Mt. Washington, which is also in the White’s. I’ve summited Washington a few times in the warmer months. I decided to do it in the winter for the first time last December. It was about as good of a day as you could get for Washington. 30 mph winds above treeline and a few breaks in the clouds. Summiting was no issue. As soon as I was heading down, the thicker clouds rolled in for good. Even though going up it was obvious where to go, going down I made a wrong turn. I quickly realized my mistake after a couple minutes, but I can totally understand how people can get disoriented in the White’s. I left with a greater appreciation of those mountains.
Really good and honest perspective here, Keith.
Scary_Canary
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Re: Missing Climber in the White Mountains NH

Post by Scary_Canary »

dan0rama wrote: Thu Dec 01, 2022 7:23 pm
Skimo95 wrote: Thu Dec 01, 2022 6:32 pm I am very sorry for the friends and family involved. I’m even more apologetic for the speculation surrounding decision-making and so forth. If the family is reading this I apologize on the behalf of 14ers.com, more specifically the know-it-alls and their lack of empathy.
And the self-righteous performance award for most virtue signaling goes to… =D>
It's a funny statement coming from Capt Knowitall himself. Didnt he once mock someone who lost his legs after getting lost? Interesting how after changing his profile he is like a whole new person.
The risk I took was calculated, but I'm terrible at math.
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Istoodupthere
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Re: Missing Climber in the White Mountains NH

Post by Istoodupthere »

Yes. Many of us back East had a term we referred to as "Presi Day". Such a day would be calm enough, clear enough, and warm enough to entertain lengthy treks above treeline in the Presidential Range (or similar alpine sections such as the Lincoln-Lafayette Loop, Bonds). There are very few of those days most winters.
[/quote]

I like that, I hadn’t heard that term before. I’m currently looking for one of those Presidays so I can go do Lafayette.
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