Near Misses
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Jack H.
(Found) - F

Locale: Sacramento, CA
Near Misses on 01/07/2010 23:12:35 MST Print View

What are some of your "near miss" stories? What's a time that you got lucky, but it could have turned out really bad.

Here's a crazy video of some hikers in a near miss.

Edited by Found on 01/07/2010 23:13:14 MST.

Ryan Linn
(ryan.c.linn)

Locale: Maine!
Re: Near Misses on 01/08/2010 04:27:56 MST Print View

I saw this video the other day, and it blows my mind. The two people seem to have a very calm reaction for almost being crushed by a GIANT F-ING BOULDER! And if I was below them, I probably would have been a little... shall we say annoyed? General etiquette calls for someone yelling "rock!" I hope nobody was hiking behind them :)

Jonathan DeYoung
(jdeyoung81) - F

Locale: New England
Re: Re: Near Misses on 01/08/2010 05:32:59 MST Print View

About 5 or 6 years ago I was hiking Mt. Washington in the winter and had my camera out to take a picture of the top of Tuckermans Ravine when I fumbled the camera and it started to slide down the trail. Thinking quickly (and not to smart) I dove after the camera and went for a short ride on the snow pack. It could have been alot worse but I was able to dig my crampons in and stop after a few feet.
Yes, I did get my camera and the shot I wanted.Tuckermans Ravine from Upper Snowfields

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
"Near Misses" on 01/08/2010 07:22:26 MST Print View

That video gets me boiling. Seriously, what were they thinking? Her massive pack appears loose and to pull her center of gravity off the mountain. Like the other poster said, they sure seemed pretty calm and casual for both having nearly missed being tumbled down the face and/or taken out by man sized boulders. The camera man just laughs...sounded a little blazed to me.

My "Near Miss". My buddy and I did a long day hike in the Dona Ana Mtns. near our town in Las Cruces, NM and we made a decision to descend down a tight funneling crack in the west facing side of the mountain. What started off as typical Class 3 terrain for a brief but sweat inducing couple of moments abruptly turned into a Class 4-easy Class 5 20 ft. drop to the deck. We had no rope but were fortunate enough to have chosen a route down that had a rope attached to a small juniper nestled in the rock. The rope was years old and dry, definitely past retirement and also stopped 6 ft. short of the bottom of the drop. I went down first and tested the rope confident that it would hold, well it did, but that was a nerve racking descent. At one point just before the floor I was just hanging there thinking, "Well if the rope breaks now I'll live." My buddy Ryan who is afraid of heights was coerced by me to do the same, he did, and was pretty upset at the situation when all was said and done. I call this a "Near Miss" because I probably should have made the decision to turn around and not trust the rope. We were all smiles after a while hiking back to the trailhead.

PS: My wife does not know about this incident and I plan to keep it that way.

Edited by Eugeneius on 01/08/2010 07:24:13 MST.

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Near Misses on 01/08/2010 09:35:53 MST Print View

Wow - there are so many issues with this including off trail hiking in a Utah National Park. In any event, no worry. Her huge pack would have cushioned her from the fall....;)

Juston Taul
(Junction)

Locale: Atlanta, GA
Thanks Jack on 01/08/2010 09:40:00 MST Print View

Great thread Jack. I love these threads. No better way to learn and entertain.

My near miss...

I was spelunking in Southern Indiana. I'm a member of the Harrison/Crawford County Grotto. I was entertaining two friends with zero caving experience. We entered a non technical cave called Langdon's Cave. No gear required, just a few tight squeezes, and several large crevices with 30ft + drops. Here is a video I found of it on youtube. It will give you some idea of what it's like.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mDjPWgZrc9w

I made several mistakes on this trip. Number one being safety gear. I only had two helmets and there were three of us. Being more experienced, I gave them my helmets and went without. Number two, I wasn't insistent on route selection inside the cave. This is what eventually led to my near miss.

Towards the end of the cave, you come upon a 25-30ft climb to an overhang that overlooks a cathedral view. It's one of the highlights of the experience. There are two routes that will get you to the top. I advised a buddy of mine to take the route I was following but he wanted to try it his own way. I didn't interject. I made my way towards the top. As I neared, I heard him asking for help. He was about 5ft from the top when he got himself into a position where he couldn't go up and he couldn't go down. The rock was wet and extremely slick. The floor below is covered by man sized boulders. Most likely instant death from a fall of this magnitude.

Having no gear, my only option was to help him from the top with what I had. I laid down on my stomach keeping the greatest amount of my body on the rock surface for friction. Luckily I'm a tall guy and was able to lay down and grab ahold of his arms. He basically used me as a ladder and made his way to the top. He was pretty shook up by the experience, I was as well. We both learned a lot that day. The rest of the trip was uneventful. He's a regular now and loves spelunking.

ben wood
(benwood)

Locale: flatlands of MO
Re: "Near Misses" on 01/08/2010 09:41:19 MST Print View

ahh....

eugene, i know your wife.

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: "Near Misses" on 01/08/2010 10:17:04 MST Print View

I guess all of us have such experiences if we spend enough time out there. I've had a lot of things happen.

One of the worst was my very first time climbing alpine ridges here in Japan, back in 1984, when I was 24. I didn't have a clue what I was doing (though, amazingly, my entire pack weight was only 25 pounds, including three days of food, SLR camera, and single-wall single-person dome tent... to this day I still don't see how I managed to get the weight so low and have everything I needed... though admittedly in those days I had very little hiking gear), especially wearing jeans and a cotton shirt, and headed up to the 3,000 meter zone with no idea what I could get myself into. The first two days were hard climbing, but with great weather utterly enchanting. The morning of the third day, however, was a different matter. I started up the last two big peaks, Aino Peak and Notori Peak, at dawn, alone. The weather was clear and bright and I thought I'd have three straight days of sunshine. But I had failed to consult with the mountain lodge keeper where my campsite was about today's weather and so was completely unaware of the approaching storm. At about 9 am, walking along a razorback ridge I suddenly became aware of a gigantic black presence rising from the western side of the range. I could hardly believe it was a cloud it was so black and menacing. And before I even had a chance to pull out my map and check my bearings it hit with a fury that knocked me to the ground. The day changed from day to night in an instant. I couldn't get up. I ended up crawling on the rocks, trying to keep myself from being blown off the precipice that fell about 2,000 meters to the leeward side of the ridge. Two ptarmigans, birds meant for this environment, whipped past me, bouncing on the rocks like paper bags. The rain hit and within minutes I was soaked to the bone, shivering wildly. I ended up curled against a boulder, whimpering and crying like a child. When the thunder boomed, I thought I was going to die.

I don't know how long it was, but the next thing I knew there was a boot placed next to my head and when I looked up there stood this old Japanese man, and behind him three of his friends, roped up and battened down with full rain gear. The man stared down at me with a gentle smile and asked, "What are you doing down there?"

I couldn't do anything but blubber away, so he reached down and gently pulled me up. "Are you okay?"

I burst out crying again and he put his hand on my back. "Come on, we've got to get off this ridge. It's too dangerous up here."

They roped me in with them and we made our way gingerly along the ridge till we found a break in the neck-high creeping pine and managed to get out of the wind on a ledge on the leeward side of the ridge. It was like a different world... alpine meadow with wildflowers waving in the soft wind, butterflies dancing amidst the grass, clouds billowing softly below. We sat there for about three hours, waiting, sharing coffee and rice cakes and oranges.

Needless to say we got off the mountain safely. And the entire 11 hour descent was spent in earnest discussion about what one needs to prepare for these mountains. I've never looked at mountains the same since then.

Jack H.
(Found) - F

Locale: Sacramento, CA
Re: Near Misses on 01/08/2010 11:13:01 MST Print View

Great stories!

Just to point out, I'm pretty sure that the people in the video aren't carrying very heavy packs. To me they look like climbers (helmet on the back of her pack) descending after climbing one of the Zion cliffs.

Rob Line
(Dragonstar) - F
Dumb kids on 01/08/2010 13:15:26 MST Print View

I had a "crevice with no gear" mishap too. It was a small crack in the mountain that I could press my back against and "spider" up the wall to the break in the ceiling of a small cave. But halfway up the crack got wider and I could no longer press my back against it. So I was basically clinging, limbs starting to turn to jelly, when people happened by and talked me down by telling me where the footholds were. When I got to the bottom I just layed down and shook for a half hour or so.

But the real one was when I was young, hiking in a state forest in Ohio. There was a crescent-shaped, very tall, perfectly straight cliff in a forest. People below looked like mice. There were six or seven telephone-pole-like pine trees that went up the face. I thought I'd take a look down so I put my toes at the edge of the ledge, then leaned out and put my hands on the tree trunk to look down.

The trunk swayed away from me like it was not even there, as formless as a blade of grass. And I was headed well past my balance point, arms wheeling frantically in the air like Wile E. Coyote. In fact, I was pretty certain I went *past* my balance point and thought I was going to die. But I threw myself backwards and was able to get back to the ledge.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Near Misses on 01/08/2010 16:53:40 MST Print View

"And if I was below them, I probably would have been a little... shall we say annoyed?"

From the looks of that video, if you'd been below them you'd have been road kill.

James Naphas
(naphas13) - MLife

Locale: SoCal
Re: Near Misses on 01/09/2010 00:02:11 MST Print View

Coming over Glacier Pass in SEKI in late summer, I decided to cross a small snowfield rather than take a detour around it that would have involved serious boulder-hopping. Got about halfway through, slipped on relatively icy snow and slid out of control about 30 yards into some pretty big boulders. I managed to get myself into a feet-first orientation, and luckily met a boulder relatively square-on.

Wrenched my knee when I hit, but could have easily sustained a leg fracture, which would have been a very bad thing, considering I was hiking solo off trail, and saw only one other person come through anywhere close to there in the next two days. Where he came through he wouldn't have been able to see me if I had been disabled there.

I continued on my trip, and the knee flared up and swelled a day later. I feel lucky that I only tore my LCL, and merely had to endure 15 miles of agony to get out of there.

Edited by naphas13 on 01/09/2010 00:04:56 MST.

Diplomatic Mike
(MikefaeDundee)

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
Re : "Near Misses" on 01/09/2010 01:52:16 MST Print View

Trying to find a way off a mountain a few years ago when out hiking with a friend. It was 'summer', so even though it was raining, i only wore a rain jacket, no rain pants, even though i had them in my pack. Having wet legs didn't bother me.
I had just got a new GPS, so was using it to navigate through the hill-fog that had come down. The temp was probably in the '50's, but very windy.
My friend became concerned when i started giggling for no reason. When we turned full circle and came back to a place we had already been, he took charge of the GPS, and got us down into shelter from the wind.
I had become hypothermic without realising it, and was starting to behave bizzarely. My friend soon had me properly dressed, and got some warm liquids and food inside me. Within 1/2 an hour i was fine, and we made it off the mountain without further incident. If i had been hiking solo that day, i probably wouldn't have made it. I never walk in cold rain without full waterproofs now.

I've also had a few climbing near misses when climbing solo. I remember trying to climb one route, and ran out of holds. I was balancing on this tiny toe hold ledge looking for the next move. Off to my right was a series of ledges, and i figured if i could traverse along to them, i could find a way through. When i eventually made my way 30 yards or so along to them, i was becoming exhausted. There was a ledge below me about a foot wide, and if i could get on to that, i was safe.
I gently lowered myself down till i was hanging with my arms fully extended. The distance had only looked to be around 5 feet, so i had expected to reach the ledge easily. By this time, i didn't have the strength to pull myself back up, so i realised i was going to have to let myself go, and hope it wasn't too far, and i didn't overbalance when i hit the ledge. All this time i felt the 500 foot drop behind me sucking me backwards. With a quick prayer, and a promise to grow up and stop being an idiot, i let go. Luckily it was only about another foot, and i made it safely. My shorts looked like the flag of Japan that day!

Then there was the time i lost a crampon on vertical ice. Luckily i was roped up that day......:)

Sean Walashek
(caraz) - F

Locale: bay area
yikes on 01/09/2010 03:51:08 MST Print View

I have luckily made it into adulthood, wiser from my experience.

When I was 10 I got lost in Yosemite while xc skiing, I made it back to the cabin after dark a cold whimpering blob.
Getting lost after descending Half Dome when I was 11, me and my little brother slid down a sandy bank stopping at the edge of a big drop.
Climbing high on the bark of a giant sequoia and not thinking about how I would get down until I was a few stories up.
The most traumatizing incident (one I replayed in my head for years) was on a river when I was about 13. I had fastened some rope to a large stone to act as an anchor for my play raft on a car camping trip. With my brother in the raft I tried to get it as close to the rapids as I could, thinking we could ride the top of them (they were a narrow in the river with large exposed rocks and fast moving water) Well as I was outside the raft positioning the anchor I got pulled by the current, the anchor slipped along the floor and pulled the raft into the rapids. I reached up and grabbed a branch before being pulled into the rocks and hoisted myself to the bank. The anchor lodged into something under the water and the raft got stuck right in the middle of the rapids. My brother was able to climb onto a rock and step stone back to shore, and the raft broke free and was recovered downstream.
Whew, I learned to never ever ever underestimate the power of nature.
I will occasionally find myself in a situation where I should have a rope too climb any higher or be a stronger swimmer in the ocean but none as scary as when I was young.
Thanks to others for sharing, its like therapy.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
kayaking on 01/09/2010 11:26:56 MST Print View

My closest call was probably kayaking, not hiking. Here's something I cut and pasted from a post of mine from a few years ago on foldingkayaks.org:

I have returned from my planned Alaskan jaunt and I am notionally whole, but also wiser.

For those of you not in the know- I have spent the past year planning a trip down the mightly Stikine River in British Columbia, into the Inside Passage near Wrangell AK, and up to LeConte Bay. Some friends and I planned to have an outfitter take us 160 miles up the Stikine via jet-boat, after which we would spend about 5 days going downriver and then a few days on the sea near Wrangell, to include the aforementioned peek at LeConte Glacier. (The river trip goes quickly because the current is as fast as 9 knots.) Despite its speed the river is flat, and described as a "novice river" in all the guidebooks. The authoratative work on the river, by Jennifer Voss, describes many people drifting serenely downriver even in sea kayaks (many of them folding) over the years.

Well, it turns out that spring was late and sudden this year in SE Alaska. When we arrived the Stikine was in full flood. But wait! Not only in flood but in "the worst flood since the 1950s." Hmm. That water seemed to be flowing pretty fast, too, even for 9 knots... (Later we'd find out it was more like 14 knots.) Our outfitter assured us that the high water really only meant some difficulty finding good camping, since a lot of the sites were under water, but that the river was still flat and broad.

The local river rats at Telegraph Creek (the town 160 miles upriver) recommended portaging one spot, which we diligently marked on our maps. The Voss book had said that the same spot was the only remotely hairy spot on the lower river, so portaging seemed reasonable. We had noticed some moderately sized standing waves during the boat trip upriver, but they were all in the first 20 miles or so and all in the main channel and we thought we could avoid them by sticking to the eddys as the river is very wide.

Wrong.

You must understand, when the current is 14 knots you have little reaction time (especially in a sea kayak). Also, while none of the waves were really big, there is a LOT of water pushing you through them. We made it about 6 miles.

The first bad omen- Sam slipped in the mud while getting in his kayak and got wet. We then pushed out into the channel and found our sea legs for the first mile or so. We then plowed right through the first set of waves, which had been hidden around a turn. Invigorating, but not difficult. Nonetheless I was having doubts about the river conditions. Tyler got spun around in those first rapids and almost hit the second going backwards as I watched helplessly from an eddy, but he managed to pirouette nicely just before entering them. (He had actually been taking whitewater classes, and thus in some respects may have been the best prepared of us all.)

We progressed downriver, and I only really got sucked into one other set of waves, but I really had to fight to keep from broaching. I soon realized, however, that I was generally the only one who was successfully staying out of the main channel (and the waves). Actually the rest of the group may not have been TRYING to stay in the eddys and soon was spread out over a half mile ahead of me, fighting their way through the heavy water in the main channel. I had just decided that we had had enough fun and was going to set about rounding everyone up to get out of the water when I came around a bend and saw Greg's kayak pushed up against a wall on the left bank where the main current nudged against it.

Greg was not in the kayak.

My first thought was "Hell, Greg's dead."

I pulled a little too close to his kayak to look for him and had to make a few vigorous moves to stay away from the wall and pull into the eddy just before it. Greg's kayak was turned sideways, pushed up against the wall, though all the gear he had stowed on deck seemed intact. Still no sign of Greg, though.

Then I spotted a quick flash of something above the water a good half mile downstream. My heart soared! It was Greg's arms churning as he swam for the right bank! (Greg later described "I was under water far too long, on the kayak, then the kayakon me, then just pushed down, upside down, rightside up..." etc.)

Thus, my second thought was "This pretty much validates my decision to abort, though."

I pulled into the current and made for him with a will. Nonetheless I couldn't quite make the bank where he landed and had to settle for calling to him as I slipped past him. He answered and seemed OK. A glance back showed that his kayak had gotten free and was following me down the river. A glance ahead showed Sam and Tyler still proceeding downriver in blissful ignorance. I decided to catch them and tell them to stop. I was off.

I caught them in pretty short order, actually, because they pulled into an island around the next bend to wait for us. I pulled in and told them about Greg, then set about rigging a tow out of my throw-bag, then told them to stay put and listen to channel 16 and set out after Greg's kayak. I never could catch it though- didn't even catch sight of it actually- it had gotten too far ahead of me while I talked to Sam and Tyler. Eventually I though better of risking my life chasing it by myself for tens of miles downriver, even if there was a VERY expensive camera lashed to the rear deck, and I pulled in and called Sam.

The weird thing was that Greg has been kayaking for years- longer than any of us. If I were to pick the guy in our group least likely to take a swim it would have been Greg. He was just happily plowing straight down the channel but, as I said, the river was pushing a LOT of water and just shoved him into the wall.

Anyway, Sam and Tyler crossed to the right bank and asked some locals for help fetching Greg. A very helpful Tahltan gentleman named Arthur (and his two boys) hauled me to where the group had collected at a local fishing camp in his pickup truck. Arthur's first words to me, upon seeing my rifle, was "Jeez, I'm sure glad one of us has a gun. This spot you landed in has a lot of Griz." Food for thought. Greg got warmed up at a campfire then checked out in the town clinic, and we hired the local river rats to haul all of our gear (less Greg's) back to Telegraph Creek.

Of course, all the locals were saying "Yeah, any other time this'd be a novice river, but not now..."

As an aside, teenaged Tyler caught an enormous salmon when one of the guys at the fishing camp let him throw a line in. He was quite proud, and remains unfazed by the days events.

We called our outfitter in a foul mood. Though we acknowledged that we had gotten ourselves into this mess, he also could have better appraised us of the river conditions. In particular a little heads up before we actually flew up there so we could modify our plans would've been nice. (But I guess he really wanted the $800 he charged for the water taxi service- which was admitted a very good price.) He felt a little sheepish, especially since the crew that dropped us off just refueled and jetted away in notime flat, but this didn't stop him fromasking us to at least cover the cost of gas to come pick us up and take us back to Wrangell. We still had to cool our heels in Telegraph Creekfor a couple of days waiting for an opening in his schedule, so we did some hiking and hauled the (remaining) kayaks to a local lake. We also spent most of the nights teaching Tyler to play Texas Hold'Em. I learned that Greg can't bluff to save his life.

Actually, the area is stunningly beautiful. It is much drier on that side of the coast range, and the nearest neighbor is 80 miles away.

Well, we decided to stay in Wrangell overnight, then have the outfitter drop us off near LeConte Bay so we could salvage something fromthe trip. Sam and I donated clothes to Greg, but he had also lost his tent, sleeping bag, and all the cooking supplies that the three others (less me) had planned to share. He bought a cheap Coleman sleeping bag as a replacement, and I decided to let him use my tent and I'd just sleep in my Hennessey Hammock. We also decided to use my Kelly Kettle to cook for the whole group for the rest of the trip, as it had performed admirably up to this point. (Incidentally, I was VERY impressed with both the Hennessey Hammock and the Kelly Kettle. I may buy the smaller Kettle soon, for less arduous trips. And for those of you who bemoan your kayaks' cargo capacity as being only sufficient for weekend trips- the Hammock packs MUCH smaller than a tent and pad, thus making room for more food, etc.)

Now, recall that I mentioned a late spring? One of the outfitter's crews came in and reported that the LeConte Bay was still chock full of bergs. We decided not to push our luck.

Ultimately we spent the rest of our time on a kayaking excursion around the Wrangell area. We crossed the 4-mile channel to Woronkofski Island and spent some time there- we had lunch next to a quite scenic beaver pond. After a brief hiatus we then made our way to the mainland near the Stikine Delta.

There is a US Forest Service cabin at a place called Garnet Ledge that we spent a very comfortable night in, using the wood-burning stove to full effect. We even spent an evening digging garnets, and produced quite a collection. (As fate would have it my daughter's birthstone is garnet, so in a few years when she is in the "pretty-rock stage" I shall present her with the little sack of garnets I dug for her myself in Alaska.)

We then hopped our way south down the coast, camping as we went. At one point Greg and I hiked up to a 2-mile long alpine lake where we had heard there was another USFS cabin. We were scouting to see if we could have another cozy night similar to our time at Garnet Ledge, but the trail dead-ended at the lakeshore and the cabin was nowhere to be seen. There was however a battered aluminum skiff there, with one broken wooden oar and one cheapo aluminum canoe paddle. We got halfway down the lake before we decided that even if there was a cabin at the far end of the lake that returning and hauling ourselves, the other two guys, and our gear was not worth the effort. Also, the skiff was taking on an unsettling amount of water through a badly patched crack in the hull. We decided to just camp.

Another spot we camped was apparently a very poplular fishing spot. All the groups who motored over from Wrangell in their boats were heavily armed, which made me feel vindicated for packing my Marlin. Never did see a single bear, though.

Ultimately, a very satisfying paddle, though not the epic one we had planned. And of course the details of the last few days are not as entertaining as the first few... (Actually, come to think of it one night we nearly lost the kayaks to a freak midnight high-high tide. Another lesson driven home.)

Dave T
(DaveT) - F
kayaking. on 01/09/2010 12:21:16 MST Print View

yeah dean, no real close calls backpacking, but one good one sea kayaking.

i still remember the moment when i went from thinking "wow, that's a cool coast guard helicopter" to "oh, they are here for ME."

:)

Jeff K
(jeff.k) - F

Locale: New York
Re: kayaking. on 01/09/2010 13:35:34 MST Print View

>>i still remember the moment when i went from thinking "wow, that's a cool coast guard helicopter" to "oh, they are here for ME."

Please do tell!