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Mountain Lions

Have an interesting or epic climbing story? Post it here.
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Re: Mountain Lions

Postby LTbear » Mon Jun 21, 2010 5:27 pm

jdorje wrote: Bear/pepper spray is safer but still not worth the weight.


I'd say it's well worth the weight. That stuff can be powerful and hardly weighs anything at all. I always carry some, just in case. It's about the same weight as the small tube of sun screen I carry.

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Re: Mountain Lions

Postby sdkeil » Mon Jun 21, 2010 5:33 pm

jdorje wrote:My opinion from what I've read and the anecdotes here is that the main worry with lions is children (anyone under 4 feet tall or so) or pets, which a lion is a lot more likely to confuse for food. If you're hiking with either one, keep a close eye - especially near sunrise and sunset. I'd figure it is safest to keep them in front of you, so any stalking cat would have to go through you to get to them.


My encounter with a mountain lion has a lot of the elements that you describe, albeit a bit embarrassing. Back in august of 2008, my girlfriend and I had gone to the Chicago Basin to hit those 14es. Our first full day there started off pretty uneventful, we hiked Eolus and North Eolus and then relaxed that afternoon. After visiting with another group we had met on the summit that evening, we headed back to our camp right around dusk. Before turning in for the night I decided I should probably take care of some "personal business." So I grabbed my roll of TP, plastic trowel and my head lamp and headed off into the forest. After walking for a few minutes, I felt I was far enough away to get things done. As I was finishing up I got this strange feeling I was no alone, so I turned around and about 40 paces from me a set eyes reflected back. The headlamp was set to dim, so I couldn't initially make out the silhouette, but after I had changed it to bright I could clearly see the outline of a big cat. Panic definitely set in as I still had my pants at my ankles (I now know what it means to be caught with your pants down :D ) and only my plastic shovel to defend myself, I mean who brings their knife to go #2. It was hard to keep one eye on the cat, try to pull up my pants and find a larger stick that I could try to defend myself with if it rushed me. Once I had my pants up it took everything in me to not turn and run, which may have triggered the prey response. We stared at each other for about a minute or so, however I feel after I stood up it realized how big I was and it lost interest. At that point the mountain lion headed off into the night, and as it turned away I saw the long tail that confirmed to me what I had seen. It was a very slow walk back to camp as I backed down the hill scanning the surroundings for its eyes to reflect back. I figured that as long as I couldn't see its eyes reflecting back then it was gone.

Looking back at the incident I realized I went out at prime hunting time, right at dusk. Also because I was going #2, I only looked 1/3 as tall as an adult human should look. The cat came up on me and I had no clue it was there and do this day I don't know why I turned around other than I just had a feeling I was being watched. I am sure though if it had decided to attack it would have been on me before I could have done much to even realize what was happening. Also when I turned around I am not sure I would have ever noticed it was there, but for the fact its eyes reflected back.

I had always wanted to see a mountain kitty, I just didn't think it was going to be like that.
Ass: (noun)
a long-eared, slow, patient, sure-footed domesticated mammal, Equus asinus, related to the horse, used chiefly as a beast of burden.

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Re: Mountain Lions

Postby LTbear » Mon Jun 21, 2010 5:36 pm

That is the best story ever. =D>

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Re: Mountain Lions

Postby ZGant » Mon Jun 21, 2010 6:15 pm

(I now know what it means to be caught with your pants down :D )


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Re: Mountain Lions

Postby hatidua » Mon Jun 21, 2010 6:27 pm

jdorje wrote: All of that is from what I've read about them; I've only seen one once at a distance though sightings are common just about everywhere in the mountains.


I'd be curious what mountains they are commonly sighted just about everywhere. I've asked countless people that live in prime habitat and while many have lost pets to them, few if anyone I've asked has ever actually seen anything other than footprints or scat.

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Re: Mountain Lions

Postby LTbear » Mon Jun 21, 2010 6:46 pm

I would imagine they're likely more common, and therefore more likely to be seen, in the San Juans. But that's just a guess.

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Re: Mountain Lions

Postby jdorje » Mon Jun 21, 2010 6:50 pm

sdkeil wrote:At that point the mountain lion headed off into the night, and as it turned away I saw the long tail that confirmed to me what I had seen.


Nice story!

A few years ago, my parents were walking more or less in their back yard in Crestone. The were a bit separated, maybe 50 yards away or so, just walking around. For some reason my father decided to look behind him and there was a giant cat stalking 20 yards behind him. He yelled at it and it turned and walked off. He also noted the tail - the cat had dark rings on its tail, marking it as a juvenile which is probably why it was stalking an adult human. He didn't realize any of this until he bought and read a book on mountain lions though. Like your cat (which may well have been a juvenile too) this one was just checking him out, and had surely had ample time to attack already if it was going to. The same cat (we assume) was seen a few months later walking right past the house when I was visiting, but since then it's learned to stay away. Now deer seem to flock around the house and take naps; maybe they know it's safe ground.

You do bring up a good point though, which most people probably know: kneeling or crouching or sitting makes you look smaller and more prey-like, as does running (and probably skiing). I didn't mention this before because it's my opinion an adult human really shouldn't waste time worrying about a deadly attack even in this situation; the odds are just so much against it and there's not much you can do about it anyway since you have to sit down sometime. Mountain climbing has a lot of risks and while you shouldn't take them for granted, neither should you overestimate small ones just because they are grisly-sounding.

LTbear wrote:I'd say it's well worth the weight. That stuff can be powerful and hardly weighs anything at all. I always carry some, just in case. It's about the same weight as the small tube of sun screen I carry.


If you want to take bear spray hiking to stop yourself from being mugged, go ahead. It might even be useful against a bear, though that is extremely rare. But don't expect a cat to let you get a chance to use it; by the time you see the lion the danger is already over. That's what i mean when I say it's not worth the weight :).

hatidua wrote:I'd be curious what mountains they are commonly sighted just about everywhere. I've asked countless people that live in prime habitat and while many have lost pets to them, few if anyone I've asked has ever actually seen anything other than footprints or scat.


You're right, they aren't "common". What I meant was that they happen regularly everywhere, because the cats live everywhere around here - regardless of the presence of humans. A given individual's chance of seeing one is low however.
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Re: Mountain Lions

Postby travis19877 » Mon Jun 21, 2010 6:54 pm

I got a nice canister of bear spray at sportsman's warehouse. It has a range of 30 feet and has a holster that doesnt take up space and is comfortable. Heard several stories of it deterring both bears and mountain lions. I reccomend you give it a thought if your the least bit concerned.
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Re: Mountain Lions

Postby JosephG » Mon Jun 21, 2010 7:33 pm

Lao Shu wrote:What do you suppose is the minimum gun required to stop/kill an attacking lion?


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Re: Mountain Lions

Postby Tory Wells » Mon Jun 21, 2010 7:41 pm

jdorje wrote:I'm pretty sure you have a better chance of shooting yourself with any gun you're carrying than you are to save yourself from a mountain lion, even if you're an experienced gun user. Bear/pepper spray is safer but still not worth the weight. Mountain lions attack by stalking prey from behind and then sprinting, biting their victims in the back of the neck to sever the spinal cord in one bite...

I'm going to disagree with you on how they kill prey. They do indeed stalk and ambush, but they kill by suffocating at the throat, not by severing the spinal cord, except with smaller prey. Wikipedia backs me up on this....
Though capable of sprinting, the cougar is typically an ambush predator. It stalks through brush and trees, across ledges, or other covered spots, before delivering a powerful leap onto the back of its prey and a suffocating neck bite. The cougar is capable of breaking the neck of some of its smaller prey with a strong bite and momentum bearing the animal to the ground.

My point is, I do believe there is time to fight back. Watch any video of mountain lion attacks and you can see it took a while for the prey animal to die (and that it was choked out). Because of this, I think a gun would be useful. I shoot a lot of bullets in a year and I'm pretty confident in my ability to draw and fire quickly, even if in a very VERY bad situation. Of course, that could be easier said than done.

I don't carry a gun when I'm out running, but I would not tell anyone not to. And I think most calibers would have the potential to stop a mountain lion attack, so I say carry away!
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Re: Mountain Lions

Postby Sugar Madison » Mon Jun 21, 2010 7:52 pm

JE242 wrote:IMO, You are lucky.


Very. All the sightings were very very cool.

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Re: Mountain Lions

Postby My-Therapy » Mon Jun 21, 2010 8:37 pm

Anyone have any pictures to share of their sightings? I love looking at pictures of these big cats in the wild and would love to see one someday myself.

Here is a video taken a few months ago about 2 miles from my house in Monument.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s8tIfAciyW4

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