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Overdue Climbers

Threads related to Colorado mountaineering accidents but please keep it civil and respectful. Friends and relatives of fallen climbers will be reading these posts.
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Please be respectful when posting - family and friends of fallen climbers might be reading this forum.
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Re: Overdue Climbers

Postby dnye » Mon Aug 02, 2010 9:21 pm

Moboy56 wrote:another tragedy in the colorado mountains. what is the number of people killed, year to date? does anyone know? my heart goes out to the families, RIP.


Probably a lot higher than even reported.

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Re: Overdue Climbers

Postby TomPierce » Mon Aug 02, 2010 9:26 pm

CCSARCAP wrote:The report was that the couple, Duane and Linda Buhrmester from Plano, Texas had planned to climb the Ellingwood Arete either Tuesday or Wednesday of this past week and would arrive in Dallas on Friday evening.


Bob: Not to beat a dead horse, but coupling the statement above from Dave Pnueman's report of the Friday storm doesn't add up. If they were planning to climb on Tuesday or Wednesday, and had flight reservations back home for Friday, and had relatively decent weather on Wednesday, does it make sense that they'd have been there Friday? Maybe the team seen on Friday was another team? I think I read in previous posts that a team had bailed off the Arete that day.

-Tom

EDIT: Found it: On page 2 of these post pages tommyboy360 notes a conversation with an "older couple" who had just arrived who were planning on climbing the arete. This was "midweek" previously (his post was on Sunday). Of perhaps more importance is rclee's post on the same page where he recounts a conversation on Friday with a team who had descended off the arete during Friday's storm. If you connect all the dots it looks like with the coroner's estimate of a Wednesday mishap, the couple's travel and flight plans, and tommyboy's midweek encounter with the older couple all point to a mishap on Wednesday, not Friday. The team seen on Friday was probably the descending team encountered by rclee. The passage of time would also account for the deposition of soil.

I'm not trying to prove any point, it's just that the facts put forth in all these posts do not add up to a fall caused by Friday's horrific storm. Just trying to respectfully put forth an alternate possibility to aid the investigation. Maybe local SAR hasn't had a chance to read all of the helpful posts here.

-Tom

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Re: Overdue Climbers

Postby Timmy » Mon Aug 02, 2010 9:43 pm

cbauer10 wrote:
Timmy wrote:I've probably been very lucky but I generally don't attempt a 14er if there's a 20% chance of storms (or greater).


I am not sure how you climb peaks. I think I have only seen less than 20% two or three times in 10 years. It is usually the standard 20%. I am glad you have found the time though.


As I stated in the first sentence, I may be lucky. However, I climbed twenty two 14ers one summer and only encountered one storm (ironically on Challenger Peak after the Needle to Peak traverse). Certainly I have climbed peaks that require less than 8 hours of estimated round-trip time, and started at 4:AM, when there was greater than a 60% chance of storms. Meanwhile I've watched people headed to the summit while I was safely packing up my gear or safely in my tent. It's about mitigating risk and optimizing your chances for a successful and enjoyable summit.

This is obviously an unusually wet summer, and maybe I should have qualified my 20% comment that the 20% was specific for the morning or early afternoon (when most people climb). Certainly there are the late afternoon storms that roll-in. However, if you are patient and have the flexibility to climb during the week (and not just weekend) you will find that there are lots of opportunities to climb without any chance of storms. If you remember the summer of the 2002 (Haymen fire) there were weeks when certain ranges, specifically the Front, Mosquito and Sawatch ranges barely got any rain. Not sure if your 10 year remark included that year.
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Re: Overdue Climbers

Postby Puzzled » Mon Aug 02, 2010 9:57 pm

Alpinista wrote:
cjolly wrote:I want everyone to know that God is real and he is good. Our party (four experienced climbers) got stuck on the needle and had to wait out the storm. Yes we saw it coming but there was no time to bail out from where we were at. We had lightning strike our bodies through the mountain twice. We had to spend the night in the gullies at about 13,700 feet due to the fog we couldn't see 10 feet in front of us. The conditions were terrible. There was rocks flying off the mountain (huge boulders). The storm came so quick and we were so high up that we decided to wait it out. I am so sorry that the two climbers passed away on the mountain. My prayers go out to there families. I do want to say to some of the people posting blogs that you should not criticize these climbers for "maybe" making bad decisions. They may have made great decisions and it still didn't work out for them. Tragedy can happen in a split second, weather can turn on you no matter what the forecast. God blessed us and surrounded us with angels on that mountain. Thank you to everyone that searched for the two climbers and thank you for being on standby to come rescue us. My wife and family members were extremely worried when they did not here from us but the rescue team and Bob especially helped them through it and they all remained calm and prayed for our return. Thanks again to God, he is real and he is good.


Ummm... so the logical conclusion of your statements is that God likes you better than he liked them??? Or he was too busy saving your butts to worry about them??? Or...???? But then again God created the storm in the first place so...??? Maybe to test your faith and the Texas couple were collateral damage??? An interesting conundrum; good things (your butts being saved) are attributed to God, but bad things (the storm which killed (perhaps) two other people) was a random tragedy. Or perhaps Satan did it... and your omnipotent God was powerless to stop him????

I am SO confused.

Of course, trying to apply logic to fundamentally flawed propositions is probably the first mistake.



cjollly-I'm so glad you were guided to safety. Yes God is good and He is real.

What puzzles me is why some people, such as alpinista, use forums such as this to lash and mock others beliefs? Is this not a forum for education and information? There is no need to try and rationalize why tragedies happen to some and not to others. Alpinista~take your mockery somewhere else and let this forum be used for its intended purposes.

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Re: Overdue Climbers

Postby kara » Mon Aug 02, 2010 10:21 pm

Puzzled wrote:
What puzzles me is why some people, such as alpinista, use forums such as this to lash and mock others beliefs? Is this not a forum for education and information? There is no need to try and rationalize why tragedies happen to some and not to others. Alpinista~take your mockery somewhere else and let this forum be used for its intended purposes.


I love how this can apparently only go one way. It's like believers are untouchable when they say something silly because to criticize would be an attack on their beliefs and that's a categorical no-no. But turning that ire around on someone critical of a believer is a-ok? Gack. Where exactly do the angels fit in with the "education and information" purpose of this forum? I know this is NOT the place for this discussion, but I felt the need to point out that little bit of hypocrisy.

Now, back on topic...
Sorry if this has been pointed out, and I've tried to follow the thread, but has anyone considered a scenario where the couple perished on Wednesday in a straight-up, legit climbing accident that wasn't in any way weather related, and then were "washed out"/moved (yes, I know they were partially buried) by the slides caused by the storms of the subsequent days? Just a theory...

RIP to the climbers, sincerest condolences to the families, and big-ups to SAR once again.
Last edited by kara on Mon Aug 02, 2010 10:26 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Mountains have a way of dealing with overconfidence. --Hermann Buhl

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Re: Overdue Climbers

Postby Phill the Thrill » Mon Aug 02, 2010 10:24 pm

Here's an article on the accident that provides some info on why family members think that the accident happened on Tuesday.

http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/city/collin/plano/stories/080310dnmetclimbers.2772d50.html

They sound like a wonderful couple, and they will certainly be greatly missed in their community.
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Re: Overdue Climbers

Postby MtHurd » Mon Aug 02, 2010 10:46 pm

kara wrote:
Puzzled wrote:
What puzzles me is why some people, such as alpinista, use forums such as this to lash and mock others beliefs? Is this not a forum for education and information? There is no need to try and rationalize why tragedies happen to some and not to others. Alpinista~take your mockery somewhere else and let this forum be used for its intended purposes.


I love how this can apparently only go one way. It's like believers are untouchable when they say something silly because to criticize would be an attack on their beliefs and that's a categorical no-no. But turning that ire around on someone critical of a believer is a-ok? Gack. Where exactly do the angels fit in with the "education and information" purpose of this forum? I know this is NOT the place for this discussion, but I felt the need to point out that little bit of hypocrisy.

Now, back on topic...
Sorry if this has been pointed out, and I've tried to follow the thread, but has anyone considered a scenario where the couple perished on Wednesday in a straight-up, legit climbing accident that wasn't in any way weather related, and then were "washed out"/moved (yes, I know they were partially buried) by the slides caused by the storms of the subsequent days? Just a theory...

RIP to the climbers, sincerest condolences to the families, and big-ups to SAR once again.


Kara, both of these posts (the one you quoted here and an earlier one) were the users first and were similar. No doubt the same troll. Ignore. Hopefully Bill will remove them shortly.

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Re: Overdue Climbers

Postby tommyboy360 » Mon Aug 02, 2010 10:52 pm

Again, I believe I met them on Monday, July 26th, just after they arrived to setup base camp. They were studying, strategizing and pointing out features on the arête as I approached. Anyone who shows up the day before to scout out and strategize their route is taking extra precaution to understand the risks. Their passion for the mountains and the route was immediately obvious. We also talked about how the clouds were building early to the west of the Crestones. Just so tragic. RIP.
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Re: Overdue Climbers

Postby cftbq » Mon Aug 02, 2010 11:36 pm

Jon Frohlich wrote:I find that reading the scientific forecaster discussion is more useful than going by the percentages much of the time.


Gotta link for that discussion?
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Re: Overdue Climbers

Postby kenike » Mon Aug 02, 2010 11:48 pm

From what has been posted here, and what's been in the news links, the couple was nearly NOT found. A CCSAR member spotted a backpack in the mud and it was investigated from there. The couple was buried in the mud, not out and visible to every passer-by who happened into the area. At least that's how the story is reading....

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Re: Overdue Climbers

Postby mbuhrmester » Tue Aug 03, 2010 2:42 am

Hello,

My name is Michael Buhrmester, son of Duane and Linda. First of all, thank you to everyone on the forum who has offered their condolences and support for me, my brother, and our family during this extremely difficult time. The SAR team let me know about the posting here, and I appreciate everyone's efforts these past couple days to try to make sense of this tragedy. Making sense of this has obviously been on my mind, and as my dad was a professor and research scientist (and I myself following in his footsteps getting my PhD), he'd want an accurate picture of what happened to be known. I've been in contact with the SAR team throughout this process (I made the initial missing report to Custer County), and also having hiked and climbed with mom and dad and my younger brother for as long as I can remember, I think we know pretty well what happened now.

Mom and dad walked in from the trailhead to Upper Colony Lake on Monday the 26th in the mid afternoon. They camped there for the night. They would have gotten up well before dawn, knowing that weather could be an issue (they had actually gone into last labor day to climb ellingwood but there was so much rain they never attempted the summit climb). We found only one eaten dinner in their tent and several more days worth of food, suggesting they attempted the summit climb on Tuesday the 27th. They likely saw that the weather was changing for the worse at some point on the Ellingwood route (unsure when, but it's fairly certain they did not summit because they would have descended the standard route, but that's not where they were found, they had also not eaten their packed lunch, which we normally do on the summit). Upon seeing the weather changing, they would have tried to get down as safely and quickly as possible. It's likely they rappeled or downclimbed to the gully/chute to the north? (right of the route if you're looking at the regular face pictures of the route) where it probably looked safest and most direct to the camp. At some point during their descent, there may have been a major rock/mud fall hitting them and carrying them perhaps several hundred feet. I believe this is what happened because mom and dad weren't roped together when found (mom had a mountaineer's coil over her shoulder and had both ends of the rope, suggesting they had used the rope earlier and had it at the ready should they need it again). If they were in that chute with much scree, they knew that it would have been safest for them to not be tied together because of the potential for the rope to get caught on loose rock and cause rockfall. Both were also wearing their boots when found, and had their rock shoes in their packs, suggesting that they had not taken a fall on a technical pitch where they would have been wearing their boots. I suspect they got pretty high up the arete in their rock shoes, bailed, switched to boots as they probably didn't want to twist an ankle in their rock shoes on any loose scree, then encountered a rock slide. Based on where they were found and the likely weather issues, we think this is what happened.

I know it may be unusual for a family member to provide this much information, but as my brother and I are both avid climbers as well, having learned and enjoyed climbing with our parents for so many years, we think it's important that all the evidence be considered and try to get the most accurate picture of what happened. I'm certain that my parents acted as the extremely competent and well-seasoned mountaineers that they were and had been for almost 40 years each (not to mention -- in extremely good physical condition, both long distance runners). They just had the tragic misfortune, I believe, to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. In some respects, my brother and I are lucky to be alive -- our commitments to school and work kept us from spending that last week on vacation in the mountains with them...

I hope that sharing this all has been helpful to you all -- I know it has been helpful to me to be able to understand what happened -- many thanks to the Custer County SAR. Our family is and will forever be a mountaineering family (in addition to lots of other wonderful things in our lives), and having read many of the posts here just briefly now, I can see that this site is just a bigger mountaineering family as well. We loved so many 14ers together -- Sneffles, Longs, Snowmass, Mt. of the Holy Cross, Capitol, North Palisade, Sill, Rainier, and dozens more. We loved our summer adventures and the experiences we got to share as a family.

I thank you all again for your condolences during this tough, tough time. And if you are able and willing, please support the Custer County Search and Rescue Team. They are an extremely professional group that helped us through this ordeal with the utmost respect, understanding, and diligence. They are a small unit with an enormous heart.

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Re: Overdue Climbers

Postby mbourget » Tue Aug 03, 2010 2:56 am

Thank you for posting that. I cant imagine the difficulty you are dealing with. You and your family are in all our prayers.

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