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Death Threads

Postby crossfitter » Thu Jul 19, 2012 5:34 pm

I apologize if this comes off as preachy or overbearing, but this is an issue that comes up disturbingly often. I think it's worth discussing for the sake of maintaining decency.

On average about 10 people die every year on the 14ers. Most of these accidents get posted here and it is not uncommon for friends and family of the victims to visit the thread. Lately it seems nearly inevitable for the condolences to be derailed towards discussing what went wrong, speculation on what might have gone wrong, what could be done about it, or rationalizations of why it won't happen to anyone who is sufficiently prepared. Hypothetical scenarios are dreamed up and debated which may have nothing to do with what actually happened. There is value in educating ourselves to the best of our abilities, but it should be done in an objective and analytical environment away from the grieving process, and only once all the facts are known. I know everyone wants to immediately jump to conclusions but it's very common for major details to come out weeks or months after the accident.

Secondly, it's important to be mindful of the difference between really analyzing what went wrong and what can be learned vs. simply satiating our own morbid curiosity. Occasionally a new, rare, or special circumstance presents itself which merits new considerations, but most accidents are a combination of the usual factors which have occurred hundreds of times before. Tragically, it is often the case that there is little new to be learned other than to remain vigilant. I realize this is an uncomfortable thought; it's natural to want to attribute accidents to freak events which can be completely controlled if there is sufficient knowledge and preparation. But sometimes things just go wrong; holds break, snow slides, feet slip, lightning strikes, and bad decisions are made.

Rather than dredging through every accident grasping for that one piece of new information which will completely insulate us from harm, I implore everyone wait for the accident reports. Unless you are part of the investigation or a direct witness to the accident, there is little chance that you will be able to offer any insight which isn't already well-known. In the meantime, there are many sources which you can consult to increase your knowledge and preparedness. Almost everyone here knows about Accidents in North American Mountaineering (http://americanalpineclub.org/p/anam). Rocky Mountain Rescue conducts thorough investigations and occasionally releases their findings to the public(http://www.rockymountainrescue.org/osaccident_analysis.php). Summitpost has a great summary of accident statistics here: http://www.summitpost.org/mountaineering-accident-statistics/658474

In the meantime, let's try to do the decent thing and keep accident threads respectful for friends and family of the victim. Condolences, thoughts, prayers, and well-wishes are welcomed. If you feel that there is valuable information that can be learned, consider starting a new thread so that we can keep the learning and grieving processes separate.
- A mountain is not a checkbox to be ticked
- Alpinism and mountaineering are not restricted to 14,000 foot mountains
- Judgment and experience are the two most important pieces of gear you own
- Being honest to yourself and others about your abilities is a characteristic of experienced climbers
- Courage cannot be bought at REI or carried with you in your rucksack


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Re: Death Threads

Postby EatinHardtack » Thu Jul 19, 2012 5:42 pm

Thank You Kris!!! Good post.

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Re: Death Threads

Postby d_baker » Thu Jul 19, 2012 5:44 pm

crossfitter wrote:I apologize if this comes off as preachy or overbearing, but this is an issue that comes up disturbingly often. I think it's worth discussing for the sake of maintaining decency.

On average about 10 people die every year on the 14ers. Most of these accidents get posted here and it is not uncommon for friends and family of the victims to visit the thread. Lately it seems nearly inevitable for the condolences to be derailed towards discussing what went wrong, speculation on what might have gone wrong, what could be done about it, or rationalizations of why it won't happen to anyone who is sufficiently prepared. Hypothetical scenarios are dreamed up and debated which may have nothing to do with what actually happened. There is value in educating ourselves to the best of our abilities, but it should be done in an objective and analytical environment away from the grieving process, and only once all the facts are known. I know everyone wants to immediately jump to conclusions but it's very common for major details to come out weeks or months after the accident.

Secondly, it's important to be mindful of the difference between really analyzing what went wrong and what can be learned vs. simply satiating our own morbid curiosity. Occasionally a new, rare, or special circumstance presents itself which merits new considerations, but most accidents are a combination of the usual factors which have occurred hundreds of times before. Tragically, it is often the case that there is little new to be learned other than to remain vigilant. I realize this is an uncomfortable thought; it's natural to want to attribute accidents to freak events which can be completely controlled if there is sufficient knowledge and preparation. But sometimes things just go wrong; holds break, snow slides, feet slip, lightning strikes, and bad decisions are made.

Rather than dredging through every accident grasping for that one piece of new information which will completely insulate us from harm, I implore everyone wait for the accident reports. Unless you are part of the investigation or a direct witness to the accident, there is little chance that you will be able to offer any insight which isn't already well-known. In the meantime, there are many sources which you can consult to increase your knowledge and preparedness. Almost everyone here knows about Accidents in North American Mountaineering (http://americanalpineclub.org/p/anam). Rocky Mountain Rescue conducts thorough investigations and occasionally releases their findings to the public(http://www.rockymountainrescue.org/osaccident_analysis.php). Summitpost has a great summary of accident statistics here: http://www.summitpost.org/mountaineering-accident-statistics/658474

In the meantime, let's try to do the decent thing and keep accident threads respectful for friends and family of the victim. Condolences, thoughts, prayers, and well-wishes are welcomed. If you feel that there is valuable information that can be learned, consider starting a new thread so that we can keep the learning and grieving processes separate.


No need to apologize.
I agree with your post 100%.
For those that have been through the experience in the mountains of watching someone fall to their death, I'm sure you'll understand the importance of crossfitters post. For those that have not been in such circumstances, and I hope you never will, you'll never get it.

I've witnessed 2 falls in the mountains -- one resulted in a death and it was a friend in my party. Nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing good can come out of an internet forum asking how/why it happened or start speculate how it happened, all in the same thread as the one giving condolences. The condolences are welcomed, the other garbage not so much.

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Re: Death Threads

Postby oldschool » Thu Jul 19, 2012 5:54 pm

Well said gentlemen.......it needed to be.

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Re: Death Threads

Postby MtHurd » Thu Jul 19, 2012 5:59 pm

Crossfitter,

Why don't you send a PM to Bill asking him to add a new rule to the message board that any and all speculation about someone's accident is no longer allowed? It sounds like your exremely passionate about this so it's worth a shot isn't it?

It was the Alpine Rescue Team that first speculated/implied about a possible cause of the accident. Perhaps the comment about it not being wise to proceed across the ridge late in the afternoon wasn't very appropriate but everything else I don't see a problem with. Posting insulting comments just creates the back and forth that you don't want in the topic in the first place. None of the comments I read had anything to do with "macabre" or "satiating our own morbid curiosity".
Last edited by MtHurd on Thu Jul 19, 2012 6:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Death Threads

Postby Dex » Thu Jul 19, 2012 6:01 pm

A couple of thoughts.

This is an internet forum - the nature of is it being transitory. Your good post and the responses will be gone in a few days.

I agree with your sentiments, but unless someone polices the thread and reminds people of your suggestions, the thread will go where it will go. And even that will be like trying to herd cats.

"Lately it seems nearly inevitable for the condolences ..." Usually what I have seen is that a thread starts out alerting the forum to a lost hiker and to keep an eye out if they are going into the area. Then if the worst happens, condolences are given, in the same thread. The speculation can begin anywhere in the thread.

When a thread starts out about a death, you have an even stronger point.

I agree with your sentiments, I don't see how it will be implemented.
Montani Semper Liberi
"Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous." Barry Ritholtz

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Re: Death Threads

Postby kansas » Thu Jul 19, 2012 6:04 pm

Barry Raven wrote:Crossfitter,

Why don't you send a PM to Bill asking him to add a new rule to the message board that any and all speculation about someone's accident is no longer allowed? It sounds like your exremely passionate about this so it's worth a shot isn't it?

Because it's better to be guided by a functioning moral compass. Do you need rules to do determine these things for you?

If you need to satisfy your need to discuss such things, the answer is simple, start a new thread.
"In the end, of course, it changed almost nothing. But I came to appreciate that mountains make poor receptacles for dreams."
— Jon Krakauer

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Re: Death Threads

Postby MtHurd » Thu Jul 19, 2012 6:06 pm

kansas wrote:Do you need rules to do determine these things for you?


Do you need to impose your morality on others?

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Re: Death Threads

Postby kansas » Thu Jul 19, 2012 6:11 pm

Barry Raven wrote:
kansas wrote:Do you need rules to do determine these things for you?


Do you need to impose your morality on others?

Only jackasses.

It's the internets and people will do what they want, if you feel the need to pick a dead person apart before their body is in the ground, knock yourself out.
"In the end, of course, it changed almost nothing. But I came to appreciate that mountains make poor receptacles for dreams."
— Jon Krakauer

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Re: Death Threads

Postby MtHurd » Thu Jul 19, 2012 6:15 pm

Jackass Kansas and fletch, please send a note to the Denver post and ask for an apology.

His body was found in a remote and rugged area, at about 13,000 feet. Search team members lowered the body to a safe spot and it was taken off of the mountain by the helicopter.

Severe weather moved through the area on Tuesday afternoon, and it may have played a role in the fall.

"It was an accident," Woodward said of McHugh's fall. "He was enjoying Colorado."


http://www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_21112283/colorado-hiker-who-died-ridgeline-fall-identified

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Re: Death Threads

Postby Doctor No » Thu Jul 19, 2012 6:20 pm

Dex wrote:This is an internet forum - the nature of is it being transitory. Your good post and the responses will be gone in a few days.


Fortunately or unfortunately, no. Google is forever, and especially if a dead party's name is mentioned in the thread itself, it's painfully easy for someone to stumble upon it years later.

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Re: Death Threads

Postby Doug Shaw » Thu Jul 19, 2012 6:22 pm

I think the past few highly ironic posts really serve to underscore how easy it is for a thread to spiral out of control. It's not a death thing, or even a topic thing... it's simply an internet and ego problem.

Thanks for highlighting the point, guys. Your job is now done, please let it go?

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