Crazy weekend on Blanca

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MUni Rider
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Re: Crazy weekend on Blanca

Post by MUni Rider »

I know one of the local Flight for Life pilots. I may be seeing him this weekend. I will try to remember to ask him about any training flights in the area.

I agree with others that your hike is your business. You did well in time management and congrats on a great summit trip! True that it is best to get up and down and get back below tree line before noon to avoid lightning. Personality, I usually refrain from telling people about weather since the lack of blue sky is usually pretty obvious. late summits are not always a bad idea. Hell, I even summited Princeton at 4:00pm years ago on a perfect blue-bird day. Similar timeframe on 14ers sharing a valley after finishing the morning hike for 14er #1, get back to the tent, eat lunch, realize it is still an awesome day and have plenty of time to get 14er #2 a day early. It is kind of annoying to be told on the way up by multiple people that it is already past noon. LOL. Thanks Captain Obvious! Then there are the people to sleep on the summit and hike down at sunrise. Does that count as a really late or really early summit? :lol:

What may be perceived as iffy, sketchy, or dangerous to person #1 may only be so for them while other party #2's experience, skills, gear and knowledge may make the same event or action a cakewalk. This conversation happens even more in the whitewater community. I can't count the times I've heard about boating high water runoff, class V, late evening trips, full moon floats, solo trips, right gear/wrong gear, what line to take, yada-yada-yada. The trip is only as wild as the river you put in on.
"It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by the dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends himself in a worthy course; who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who, at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly; so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat." (Theodore Roosevelt)

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Jim Davies
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Re: Crazy weekend on Blanca

Post by Jim Davies »

At least two people have died on Little Bear by descending the wrong way off the lower ridge, at least one in a thunderstorm (the other one was solo so hard to be sure).
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SchralpTheGnar
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Re: Crazy weekend on Blanca

Post by SchralpTheGnar »

I always ask everyone I see descending on my ascent if they think I should go on or not.
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Re: Crazy weekend on Blanca

Post by nunns »

Dayute wrote: Sun Aug 01, 2021 5:24 pm The gully over to Little Bear was probably not a fun place to be in a storm at all but still infinitely better than being in the Hourglass. The key to beating thunderstorms is usually always start earlier or get faster.
We went up the gully last year very early in the morning in mist/light rain around 3am. Not bad at all, although it was hard to navigate near the top. Once it was light we went on up to the base of the hourglass. At that point it was obvious that we were not going to summit LB that day, so we turned around and went back to Lake Como, packed up and left. Getting down the gully in a storm would be tough but not impossible.

Sean Nunn
"Thy righteousness is like the great mountains." --Psalms 36:6
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Re: Crazy weekend on Blanca

Post by nunns »

Jim Davies wrote: Mon Aug 02, 2021 1:56 pm At least two people have died on Little Bear by descending the wrong way off the lower ridge, at least one in a thunderstorm (the other one was solo so hard to be sure).
Good point Jim, I had forgotten those warnings. We definitely made it a point to leave an article of clothing at the proper entrance to the gully when we got to the top, to make sure we came down the right way.

Sean Nunn
"Thy righteousness is like the great mountains." --Psalms 36:6
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Re: Crazy weekend on Blanca

Post by Dayute »

spehkonen wrote: Mon Aug 02, 2021 7:11 am
Good to know. Generally speaking, if you get caught in a storm above tree-line is it better to stay put / move slow or double time it down lower? I wondered this while we were basically running... I feel the risk of a slip/trip/fall injury is astronomically higher than getting struck by lighting right? Maybe we shouldn't have been running through rocky wet terrain? Then again - my instinct at the time was to pick up the pace and get lower ASAP. Curios on your thoughts on that.
I like to keep moving at a steady pace. I dont think hiding under a boulder or assuming the crouch position really does any good and running definitely increases the risk of other injury especially in the rain. Keeping a steady pace calms the nerves when lightning is striking nearby and keeps you warm from what is usually a cold and wet time. I always found it weird when I first get back to treeline in a storm and I pass several different groups of people huddled under trees shivering. I've found with good gore-tex rain gear I can actually dry out wet underlayers some by generating a little heat under the shell. If I get too hot under there and start to sweat I just slow down a little. If I'm hiking down and off the mountain its not uncommon to hike out of the storm that gets stuck around the summit. The downside is the river that usually flows down the trail but with good socks and well vented trail runners my feet stay feeling pretty good even when soaked and they dry quickly.
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Re: Crazy weekend on Blanca

Post by nunns »

I agree with Dayute. From what I have read about fatalities in the mountains, very few deaths are attributable to direct strikes by lightning (I know of one, on Princeton.) However, many can be attributed to falling, and my guess is that at least some of those occurred when someone "freaked out" due to nearby lightning and attempted to descend too fast for their abilities. Keeping a clear head and descending within one's abilities is probably the way to go, although I do believe if you are above treeline and lightning is VERY close around you, hunkering down for a few minutes might be the safest option.

Sean Nunn
"Thy righteousness is like the great mountains." --Psalms 36:6
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Re: Crazy weekend on Blanca

Post by mtree »

MUni Rider wrote: Mon Aug 02, 2021 11:22 am ... late summits are not always a bad idea. Hell, I even summited Princeton at 4:00pm years ago on a perfect blue-bird day. Similar timeframe on 14ers sharing a valley after finishing the morning hike for 14er #1, get back to the tent, eat lunch, realize it is still an awesome day and have plenty of time to get 14er #2 a day early. It is kind of annoying to be told on the way up by multiple people that it is already past noon. LOL. Thanks Captain Obvious!
I've done many hikes late afternoon and evenings. Just depends on your experience, risk tolerance, and perspective. Coming down at sunset is a gorgeous time of day!
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Re: Crazy weekend on Blanca

Post by Presto »

by MUni Rider » Mon Aug 02, 2021 11:22 am
I agree with others that your hike is your business. You did well in time management and congrats on a great summit trip! True that it is best to get up and down and get back below tree line before noon to avoid lightning. Personality, I usually refrain from telling people about weather since the lack of blue sky is usually pretty obvious. late summits are not always a bad idea. Hell, I even summited Princeton at 4:00pm years ago on a perfect blue-bird day. Similar timeframe on 14ers sharing a valley after finishing the morning hike for 14er #1, get back to the tent, eat lunch, realize it is still an awesome day and have plenty of time to get 14er #2 a day early. It is kind of annoying to be told on the way up by multiple people that it is already past noon. LOL. Thanks Captain Obvious! Then there are the people to sleep on the summit and hike down at sunrise. Does that count as a really late or really early summit? :lol:

What may be perceived as iffy, sketchy, or dangerous to person #1 may only be so for them while other party #2's experience, skills, gear and knowledge may make the same event or action a cakewalk.
THIS. If I could type it 1,000 times in my response ... it would still be THIS. We summited many peaks late in the day ... some in good weather ... some in "not so ideal conditions". Many, many climbs hunkered down waiting for weather to pass be it hail, rain, lightning, etc. Heck, we stopped 3 times on the way up Potosi just due to varying episodes of weather ... still made the summit. Let me be clear ... different strokes for different folks. It's called personal choice.

Sometimes, you have no choice of whether you want to (or cannot) continue due to the weather. You are in a situation where the shortest way down is to continue to the summit. One of the times when we did the Bells Traverse (north to south), we could see the sh*t coming from behind Pyramid as we were summiting Maroon Peak (it had been a beautiful weather day). We had just summited Maroon Peak and were less than 100 feet below the summit when the skies opened up with hail, rain, lightning. As we had done the traverse before, we knew approximately how much time it would take us to get down from where we were to the trail below Maroon Peak. The three of us sat there for 3-1/2 hours (tucked under a makeshift "shelter of our ponchos") just waiting for it to stop. As we went through that time warp of ongoing discussions, we came to terms with the fact that we may need to spend the night there (and we were equipped to). Ironically enough, it all stopped within our estimated timeframe to get down. It was a dicey decent with hail everywhere making route finding a bit more interesting. We hit the trail just when it was dark enough to need our headlamps. No worse for the wear.

With experience comes better judgment of your abilities ... my opinion for me was (and still is), if I've gained all this elevation, I'm not just going to tuck my tail between my legs and "run" down the mountain. But, I've also had enough experience to know that "the summit will always be there".

For beginners, I agree with being cautious. And, please oh please, don't nanny people to death telling them what time it is or pointing out cloud formations.

Happy trails! :-D
As if none of us have ever come back with a cool, quasi-epic story instead of being victim to tragic rockfall, a fatal stumble, a heart attack, an embolism, a lightning strike, a bear attack, collapsing cornice, some psycho with an axe, a falling tree, carbon monoxide, even falling asleep at the wheel getting to a mountain. If you can't accept the fact that sometimes "s**t happens", then you live with the illusion that your epic genius and profound wilderness intelligence has put you in total and complete control of yourself, your partners, and the mountain. How mystified you'll be when "s**t happens" to you! - FM
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Jon Frohlich
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Re: Crazy weekend on Blanca

Post by Jon Frohlich »

nunns wrote: Mon Aug 02, 2021 10:09 pm I agree with Dayute. From what I have read about fatalities in the mountains, very few deaths are attributable to direct strikes by lightning (I know of one, on Princeton.) However, many can be attributed to falling, and my guess is that at least some of those occurred when someone "freaked out" due to nearby lightning and attempted to descend too fast for their abilities. Keeping a clear head and descending within one's abilities is probably the way to go, although I do believe if you are above treeline and lightning is VERY close around you, hunkering down for a few minutes might be the safest option.

Sean Nunn
There have been a few others. I can think of 5 or 6 off the top of my head and I'm sure I'm forgetting some. Given the number of hikers out though the numbers are very low. Other types of accidents have killed far more people than lightning. I absolutely hate lightning but the chances of actually getting struck are far lower than my fear level warrants.
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Re: Crazy weekend on Blanca

Post by Dayute »

A hiker was just killed on the JMT by electrocution while sheltering under a tree that was struck.

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_ ... 3204524019
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Re: Crazy weekend on Blanca

Post by klawil »

It was a training flight, AVSAR was doing training with a DFPC chopper from Canyon City and they scoped out some of the LZs in the Blanca massif on the way over
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