Missing Hiker in Yosemite

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osprey
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Re: Missing Hiker in Yosemite

Postby osprey » Wed May 08, 2013 10:13 am

I am a little amazed by the contrast of the criticism of the individuals going to their deaths over the falls vs the almost prohibition of criticism on this site of back country skiiers or climbers who go to their deaths in avalanches. I am not criticising any of the people who have died. My question is why do some people consider some deaths almost noble and while other deaths are considered stupid when somewhat similiar mistakes in judgement were made by the deceased.
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Re: Missing Hiker in Yosemite

Postby screeman57 » Wed May 08, 2013 10:44 am

osprey wrote:I am a little amazed by the contrast of the criticism of the individuals going to their deaths over the falls vs the almost prohibition of criticism on this site of back country skiiers or climbers who go to their deaths in avalanches. I am not criticising any of the people who have died. My question is why do some people consider some deaths almost noble and while other deaths are considered stupid when somewhat similiar mistakes in judgement were made by the deceased.


Dex's point is excellent, but to osprey, where did you get this idea? Every time there's an avalanche fatality, there's a "healthy" discussion from many perspectives (i.e. second-guessing and arm-chair judgements vs. cautionary tale advice vs. concern about over-judging and over-criticizing). IMO, it's one of the very rich aspects of this site as long as you take everything with a grain of salt.
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Steve Climber
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Re: Missing Hiker in Yosemite

Postby Steve Climber » Wed May 08, 2013 10:52 am

osprey wrote:I am a little amazed by the contrast of the criticism of the individuals going to their deaths over the falls vs the almost prohibition of criticism on this site of back country skiers or climbers who go to their deaths in avalanches. I am not criticising any of the people who have died. My question is why do some people consider some deaths almost noble and while other deaths are considered stupid when somewhat similar mistakes in judgement were made by the deceased.


I don't have any one great answer to this, but IMO one reason for the difference in tone regarding deaths of folks going over these falls vs. hikers/skiers getting swept up by avalanche is there is a guardrail that one must *intentionally* climb over on these falls. Please know I don't mean that to have a sarcastic tone, but I think it's an obvious piece of evidence that should not be discounted while looking at the larger scope of your question. I'm not saying there isn't a terrible amount of carelessness and/or stupidity that goes into avalanche/climbing accidents, but they are just that...accidents that may or may not have been prevented with better decisions. I have yet to hear a story of a BC rider that climbs to the top of a giant cornice and says "get a picture of me jumping up and down on this thing"...Slipping on wet granite and sliding into the water is an accident...Going over the guardrail atop a 300'+ waterfall to get to that granite is not.

I also think there is a lot of "It's only bad news if it happens to you" mentality online and 14ers.com is not immune. I have had my opinions over the years regarding several high profile accidents, but usually do not weigh in as the debates tend to devolve into junk shows without any extra pushing.
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Re: Missing Hiker in Yosemite

Postby TravelingMatt » Wed May 08, 2013 10:57 am

A lot of it is (1) knowing the risks in the first place and accepting the potential consequences (2) that with most of the activities we undertake here, there is substantial reward in exchange for accepting risk.

Any of us can fall off the Knife Edge, but the point of discussing it is understanding that it's there and how best to approach it. And once we do get past it, the reward is summiting Capitol.

In the case of crossing a railing to get closer to a waterfall, the reward is nil -- I've been there; the view is not any better and being closer to water is worse. And although I don't know this particular situation, most people cavalierly climbing over a railing do not consider all the potential risks.
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osprey
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Re: Missing Hiker in Yosemite

Postby osprey » Wed May 08, 2013 11:30 am

Well - contrast what was said about the deaths of the five skiiers due to an avalanche:
Mountainhiker wrote to the effect that the five were not anonymous people but were well known to many on the web site and emphasized we should have compassion even as we learned of the details.
Fisching agrees with Mountainhiker.
Mongoose writes we should be quick to learn but slow to pass judgement.
Sgladbach wrote he hoped this thread veers more toward one that is respectful of the survivor, etc.
Ameristat wrote there is a difference between a constructive discussion vs an insensitive critique.
Some postings, if I remember correctly, were removed by Middlebrook because they were thought to be too critical of the dead.

However the the words stupid/stupidity or reckless were used regarding this elderly gentleman in the comments, or applauded by others, by Fisching, Susanjoypaul, bonehead and aboynamedmargarette. Does this man not have family who would be wounded by these words? If these word were to applied to the avalanche dead would there not be well justified criticism that the words were insensitive?
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Re: Missing Hiker in Yosemite

Postby Steve Climber » Wed May 08, 2013 11:50 am

I don't disagree that family and friends can be wounded by the use of the words "stupid, reckless, careless, etc". That being said, by blatantly disregarding a safety rail and falling over a waterfall that you have no business or reasoning (TravellingMatt's risk to reward point) to approach that closely, you are injuring your family worse than my words ever could with that carelessness. Like I said in my original post, I wouldn't be surprised to find out there may have been motive behind him going over.

Put another way: If you own a tiger or chimpanzee as a pet and one day that animal decides to haul off and eat your face...sorry, I don't have the same sympathy for you that I would if you died in a car accident because you weren't paying attention to your speed around a corner (assuming you didn't hurt anyone else in the process).
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Re: Missing Hiker in Yosemite

Postby screeman57 » Wed May 08, 2013 12:08 pm

osprey wrote:Well - contrast what was said about the deaths of the five skiiers due to an avalanche:
Mountainhiker wrote to the effect that the five were not anonymous people but were well known to many on the web site and emphasized we should have compassion even as we learned of the details.
Fisching agrees with Mountainhiker.
Mongoose writes we should be quick to learn but slow to pass judgement.
Sgladbach wrote he hoped this thread veers more toward one that is respectful of the survivor, etc.
Ameristat wrote there is a difference between a constructive discussion vs an insensitive critique.
Some postings, if I remember correctly, were removed by Middlebrook because they were thought to be too critical of the dead.

However the the words stupid/stupidity or reckless were used regarding this elderly gentleman in the comments, or applauded by others, by Fisching, Susanjoypaul, bonehead and aboynamedmargarette. Does this man not have family who would be wounded by these words? If these word were to applied to the avalanche dead would there not be well justified criticism that the words were insensitive?


point taken
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Re: Missing Hiker in Yosemite

Postby osprey » Wed May 08, 2013 12:32 pm

From the Wild Snow critique of the avalanch deaths:
The approach trail goes through a DANGEROUS spot with OBVIOUS avalanche slope to your right and TERRAIN TRAP ( emphasis added) to your left.
So: if the avalanche 5 blatantly disregarded the backcountry equivalent of a safety railing they had no business or reasoning to approach due to their high level of experience then why are their deaths treated differently than the elderly gentleman's when he disregarded his railing?
Please do not misinterpret me - I am not critical of the avalanche 5 - I will not question the judgement of either group - the question is why we treat certain deaths with a degree of compassion vs scathing judgement of other deaths.
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Re: Missing Hiker in Yosemite

Postby susanjoypaul » Wed May 08, 2013 12:38 pm

osprey wrote:However the the words stupid/stupidity or reckless were used regarding this elderly gentleman in the comments, or applauded by others, by Fisching, Susanjoypaul, bonehead and aboynamedmargarette. Does this man not have family who would be wounded by these words? If these word were to applied to the avalanche dead would there not be well justified criticism that the words were insensitive?

I never used any of those words in regard to the deceased, or applauded them. In fact, I noted that it was likely an accident that led to the man's death, and in hindsight, perhaps it was intentional. Who knows?

My comments were in response to the lawyer's quote about an insufficient railing at the site, and the uselessness - not to mention absurdity - of protecting some people from their own stupidity. The whole idea of it is ridiculous: Would a sturdier fence have prevented people from climbing over it? Is it the park's job to make the outdoors idiot-proof? Perhaps we need to build a wall around the Grand Canyon, too, to prevent folks from falling off the edge, and cast a net across the sea to keep folks who stray too far from drowning.

I suggest you go back and read my entire post before making any more accusations or insinuations as to my intent.
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Re: Missing Hiker in Yosemite

Postby osprey » Wed May 08, 2013 12:41 pm

Hi Susan
Thank you for your post. Apologies for misinterpreting you words.
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Re: Missing Hiker in Yosemite

Postby susanjoypaul » Wed May 08, 2013 12:46 pm

osprey wrote:Hi Susan
Thank you for your post. Apologies for misinterpreting you words.

No worries. I understand your concerns, actually, and I don't think anyone really meant to insult the man. I commend you for coming to his defense... we all feel pretty awful when something like this happens, regardless of the circumstances.
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Re: Missing Hiker in Yosemite

Postby Steve Climber » Wed May 08, 2013 12:58 pm

osprey wrote:From the Wild Snow critique of the avalanch deaths:
The approach trail goes through a DANGEROUS spot with OBVIOUS avalanche slope to your right and TERRAIN TRAP ( emphasis added) to your left.
So: if the avalanche 5 blatantly disregarded the backcountry equivalent of a safety railing they had no business or reasoning to approach due to their high level of experience then why are their deaths treated differently than the elderly gentleman's when he disregarded his railing?
Please do not misinterpret me - I am not critical of the avalanche 5 - I will not question the judgement of either group - the question is why we treat certain deaths with a degree of compassion vs scathing judgement of other deaths.


Point taken, but I think BC "warning signs" (no matter how apparent they might seem in hind-sight) are far more open to interpretation than an actual, tangible, steel guardrail. Avalanche 5 made a decision based on conditions presented. They were proceeding with what they thought to be the proper practice given those conditions. Obviously, in hind-sight it turned out to be the wrong choice, but I wouldn't fault them as reckless. There is no hind-sight needed to judge the poor choice of someone being swept over Vernal Falls. EDIT: In the BC there is an element of unknown and even with the best choices, you can still end up losing. With a waterfall, there is very little ambiguity in how it will behave.

If someone had witnessed the avalanche 5 marching up the slope and kicking the bottom of a cornice, yes...I would probably call them stupid or reckless. Conversely, if Mr. Stensby had been hiking along side the river and had tripped and fallen in somewhere, or a flash flood came through and caught him ANYWHERE other than where it looks like he intentionally went past a rail, I would be defending against speculating on his death.
Last edited by Steve Climber on Wed May 08, 2013 1:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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