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a few more rescues
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eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
a few more rescues on 12/30/2010 12:15:48 MST Print View

its winter time ... be prepared, it can happen to anyone

Four snowshoers found near Snoqualmie Pass
Four snowshoers who got lost Sunday along a trail at Gold Creek Sno-Park were rescued Monday.

Sandie Davis' first trip on snowshoes didn't exactly go the way she expected.

She and three more experienced women, one a friend, the second an acquaintance, the third a woman she'd just met, started snowshoeing along a trail at Gold Creek Sno-Park at about noon Sunday. Guided by a compass, they ventured off the trail and soon got lost.

After the women called for help on a cellphone, volunteer search teams spent all Sunday evening and Monday morning searching for them and finally rescued them Monday afternoon.

"We were highly confident throughout our afternoon in terms of how we would get back to the car," Davis, a 51-year-old West Seattle resident, said. "But we were wrong, and we got very lost."

About 4 p.m. Sunday, it was getting dark and the women grew worried, Davis said.

Her companion, Marynell Matt of Vashon, called 911 on her cellphone to report that she and her party had left the main trail and were lost, according to deputies.

Kittitas County Sheriff's Deputy Mark McBride was able to maintain cellphone contact with Matt, according to police, and worked with her cellphone provider to narrow the search area. Searchers also used snowmobiles to locate the women, according to police.

When they started out, the women weren't worried about the weather, Davis said. They'd read before their trip that a snow front wouldn't come in until Tuesday. However, that front came a day early, according to the Kittitas County Sheriff's Office. Searchers called the group to say they'd have to call off the search and resume it at 6:30 Monday morning.

Seven inches of snow fell Sunday night, according to the sheriff's office.

"We certainly had some stuff with us" — food, water and fully charged cellphones that they took turns using to call the search teams — "but we had no intention of staying the night," Davis said.

The group spent the night on top of a tarp and underneath mylar blankets, cozying up to one woman's dog for warmth. They dug out a small track where they walked back and forth to keep their circulation going, she said.

"We know we were lucky to be alive" at the end of the night, Davis said. "It was important to us to not bring the fear into the mix of it — we just stayed optimistic."

When the four were finally found, they were several miles off the trail, according to Kittitas County Undersheriff Clayton Meyer. None was harmed, but all were eager to get home and warm up, Davis said.

The snowshoe novice said she has a newfound appreciation for the volunteer rescue teams — and for marked trails.

She said she learned several lessons she'll apply to her next snowshoeing foray: "Don't go off the trail. Be prepared for more than you expect. Keep a level head to foster a positive experience. And, if you want to stay warm, don't eat the snow!",30801,30801#msg-30801

Glacier National Park
Three Men Rescued After Overnight Stay On Mt. Brown

Three men who were stranded overnight on Mt. Brown on Sunday night made it off the mountain yesterday morning and are all in excellent condition. On Sunday, 18-year-old Dan House, 18-year-old James McCarthy, and 20-year-old Justin Newton, all from Kalispell, Montana, attempted to reach the fire lookout on Mt. Brown, which is located northeast of the head of Lake McDonald. The three men started out on snowshoes at about 11 a.m., planning to ski down before dusk, but ran out of light before they could get off the mountain. Around 6:30 p.m., one of the men was able to reach a family member via cell phone and report that they were stranded. The family member notified Flathead County dispatch about an hour later. The men were not able to provide an accurate location, so rangers and members of the volunteer Flathead County Search and Rescue team started searching for them around 9 p.m. Visibility was very limited due to wind and snow. Searchers covered high probability areas, scanned for signs of fire, and used whistles to try to locate the men. Ranger and search and rescue volunteers spent the entire night looking for them, but without luck. In the early morning hours on Monday, a ranger sent a text message to one of the men, asking him to call 911. The man did so, thereby making it possible for Flathead County dispatch to get a latitude and longitude pinpointing their location. The men reported that they had been able to make a fire, shelter in place, and were doing well. With an exact location, a group from the Flathead Nordic Ski Patrol and an NPS employee headed up to meet them. At 10:30 a.m., the ski patrol made contact and found that all three men were in excellent condition. Everyone was off the mountain by 11 a.m. Ranger Gary Moses was IC.

Hikin' Jim
(hikin_jim) - MLife

Locale: Orange County, CA, USA
Re: a few more rescues on 12/30/2010 14:46:15 MST Print View

SAR incidents are always instructive. Thanks for the post.


Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: a few more rescues on 01/06/2011 00:46:40 MST Print View

Four snowshoers who got lost Sunday along a trail at Gold Creek Sno-Park were rescued Monday.

I wonder where they went. The Gold Creek trail goes up a steep walled valley, but it is broad in areas. There is a sizable river, but that may be frozen and snowed over, allowing passage to the whole width of the valley. My point is that the only direction of travel is up and down the valley. There is significant avalanche danger farther up the valley. In the panorama below, you can see the effects of a massive avalanche that came from the right hand side, crossed the valley and river and actually ran up the mountainside on the left hand side, pushing the trees down in an uphill direction. The map shows the broad approach to the valley from I-90 and the steep sidewalls. The trail is *rougly* what I have outlined in bright green. The summer foot trail starts from the small lake and travels along some gravel roads, going through some areas of private property with cabins that are not shown on the map.

I assume that they weren't able to see across the valley if there was heavy snow and it gets dark early too, particularly with clouds and snow. There are all kinds of small timber and brush, so it would be easy to start a fire, given basic fire-starting materials and a small saw or knife, or just bending/breaking/stomping brush and branches.

Gold Creek area topo map

Gold Creek avalanche area photo panorama

Edited by dwambaugh on 01/06/2011 00:47:47 MST.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
lost on 01/06/2011 04:49:23 MST Print View

dale ...

i think some people get lost anywhere ... we're a gps society these days

up here in BC people have gotten lost on ski hills within ski resort boundaries ...

Andy F
(AndyF) - F

Locale: Ohio
Re: a few more rescues on 01/06/2011 10:39:03 MST Print View

Interesting accounts! Thanks for posting these Eric.

It doesn't sound like anyone in any of these incidents had a whistle. I guess it's lucky for them that they were in an area where cellular service was available.

Probably like most on this forum, I have a difficult time identifying with an unplanned night out being a situation where I need to call for rescue, especially in a forested area. If skills are lacking, bring more gear. If someone can't be bothered with learning basic skills to use that basic gear, they shouldn't be going out off-piste risking their own lives and those of the searchers.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
call on 01/06/2011 11:53:39 MST Print View

andy ...

IMO its actually better to call in than to leave things hanging ... its very likely that SAR will start a search anyways ... calling in can save them time ... at worst call in to say yr fine

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: call on 01/06/2011 12:17:03 MST Print View

I establish deadlines with a trusted contact (my spouse in my case). If I don't check in by a certain time, it's time to call in help.

The snowshoers were really lucky they had cellular service, which leads me to believe they were in the lower part of the valley, close to I-90 (there is a ski resort just across the highway at Hyak). Relying on cell phones in deep mountain valleys is spotty at best. I have made some surprising calls from exposed ridges, but they were really borderline. Of course cold batteries, dropping phones or getting them wet brings the Murphy's Law factor into reliability, just like using a GPS for the only means of navigation. Going off trail in snow with no experience in the area and no navigation gear, signaling or fire-making gear is just getting in the nomination line for a Darwin award. I am glad they made it out. It is the same story, over and over.

Theron Rohr
(theronr) - F

Locale: Los Angeles, California
Re: a few more rescues on 01/07/2011 00:18:07 MST Print View

It's interesting that in both cases they weren't prepared to spend the night and considered that turn of events to be the trigger to call 911. It lends credence to the idea that cell phones make people feel that help is only a call away. Yet in each case they did survive the night by themselves.