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Denver Post Story on David's Rescue

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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Postby alanlipkin » Sun May 13, 2007 7:36 pm

paully said:
What should be preached is that you should never climb anything without multiple sources. At least one of these sources should be an official route description from an official guide book, if possible. I love reading people's trip reports to glean details on a route, but I'll always look to see that it follows the general description from the guidebook.


Perfectly said. In the real world, however, this does not always occur. Unfortunately, people sometimes grab onto fragmentary or unrealistic information and then make unwise decisions based upon it. Thus the concerns that I expressed at the beginning of this thread. Again, this is a general feeling about information on the site and is not meant to be critical of any individual.

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Postby paully » Sun May 13, 2007 7:49 pm

Yeah, I hear ya. I talked with a guy last night in fact, had never climbed a mountain before. Said he and a bunch of guys were climbing Longs next weekend. I asked about any of their experience, and he basically implied they had none. I asked him if he has crampons, axe, anything like that. He said he had 'some gear', but I got the impression he had no idea what a crampon was. I have no idea what conditions are like up there right now, but May seems early to me for climbing Longs with no experience and no equipment. This seems like a common thing with Longs. It's such a heralded and sought-after summit that people with no experience swoop in thinking they'll cake-walk up the entire thing, with no real notion of how big the mountain is or what 1,000 feet of elevation gain really feels like.

With the growing popularity of the sport, this problem will only get worse. It's a dangerous sport. Just like any other dangerous sport, you need to enter cautiously. You need to progress and not let ego become a factor. You can attach this sort of warning to the sport or to the website or whatever, but it's ultimately up to the individual to make safety a priority and not to get into it for the wrong reasons.

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Postby Charla aka Chulabelle » Sun May 13, 2007 9:00 pm

I was talking with my dad earlier today and made the statement that as well as I knew David, I can't imagine he would put Caroline or himself in danger by "not" doing everything he taught all of us so well. I admired David and his knowledge of the mountains - dangers and all. I would have trusted him to take me up any peak, anywhere, anytime. This is what bothers me about "certain" writings, writers, etc., they twist the truth. I believe David was what all of those "milk-white" dreamers wish they could be. No matter what happened in David's mind on that mountain that day, I believe his love for his passion, people, and the mountains prevail! I can say that through his death I have learned that I want to be a better mountaineer, a better fullfiller of my dreams, and most of all, a person who encourages others to reach their goals, be it at 5000 ft or 14, 000 ft - just like TalusMonkey did for all of us.
Gone missing in the shrewd, sharp moon
Full and too soon
Was my fickle doom
As I crawled among its hungry womb
Charla Stilling

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Postby paully » Sun May 13, 2007 9:12 pm

Well said Charla. It seemed to me that David was the type of guy who would always put his friends first. The memory of him makes me eager to get back up there, climb something with him in mind. I'm bummed that I'll never run across him on a climb, but I think my climbs from here on out will be done with more spirit and appreciation than ever before.

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Postby Charla aka Chulabelle » Sun May 13, 2007 9:18 pm

Thank you! Email me somtime and we'll climb!!
Gone missing in the shrewd, sharp moon
Full and too soon
Was my fickle doom
As I crawled among its hungry womb
Charla Stilling

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Postby highaltmama » Sun May 13, 2007 9:25 pm

Well said, Charla.

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Postby Charla aka Chulabelle » Sun May 13, 2007 9:28 pm

highaltmama, thanks for going with me yesterday...and thanks for all your support - always!
Gone missing in the shrewd, sharp moon
Full and too soon
Was my fickle doom
As I crawled among its hungry womb
Charla Stilling

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Postby gdthomas » Sun May 13, 2007 10:18 pm

I thought the article delivered what the title suggested. The rescue and reactions of those who "knew" David while the events unfolded literally played out on the internet. Considering that most people who read the piece probably were not mountain climbers, had no prior knowledge of the events that took place, and certainly had no idea who David Worthington was, the article offered a look into a 21st century subculture that the vast majority of the population doesn't know exists. What amazes me (and hopefully anyone who read the article) about the events of last week, is the profound and widespead emotional outpouring of support and caring from people who have never personally met David. That is the power of the internet and that is what makes this story so appealling.

It doesn't surprise me that the author resorted to questionable methods for extracting information. I don't condone it but it is the nature of the beast.

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Postby Mel McKinney » Mon May 14, 2007 10:46 am

I've come away from this knowing that I need to do a better job of being prepared. So far I've hiked the easier 14ers, but I know I need more preparedness than just the standard items in my pack and basic knowledge. After reading USA Keller's trip report and the various articles on the rescue I stopped to wonder what would have happened if I'd been a similar situation. She did an exceptional job and I admire her. No Monday-morning quarterbacking here...

I agree with the sentiment that we've all been in situations where we've thought, "Uh-oh...should have been back below treeline earlier, brought that extra layer, etc..." But it seems to me that pretty much everyone on this site makes use of their common sense, accepts the risks of the backcountry, and gives helpful advice & guidance to others.

I just want to come away from this knowing that if I were ever in such a trying situation I could handle it as well as Caroline did. I also hope and pray that we never have another loss of a comrade on this site.

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Postby Kruck » Mon May 14, 2007 11:40 am

BillMiddlebrook wrote:Absolutely.
I get the impression that his story started out as one about how online bragging, etc. can put people at risk for disaster - to be published in his Extreme Outdoors column. Then the story changed to the mountain rescue of David. That appears to be why there are a couple of isolated paragraphs about the potential risk of people getting in over their head after visiting an online forum..


After reading the article, I agree with you Bill. Unfortunately, reporters more and more are coming to stories with premises, then seeing if they can prove them. Of course you always can if you ask the right people.

It appears here that the reporter had the the idea that online TRs do inspire the underskilled to seek glory in spite of dire consequences. Instead, he should have asked, do they? Here's the section that shows the premise, and I would have asked for his source on this:

Sometimes a little knowledge gleaned from nonchalant but highly qualified athletes is just enough to get an aspiring, underqualified athlete in trouble. And sometimes the praise that follows the more adventurous posts is envied so much that it can overcome the common sense essential for spending time in the mountains.


Completely unsourced. He follows with a quote to attampt to "source" the previous statement:

"Forums can be such a good source of information - you always have to consider the source of the information," said Halsted Morris, a longtime snow scientist in Colorado who participates in online communities. "Sometimes, I see people skiing stuff, and I wonder if they are doing it for the actual skiing or a kind of glory on the Internet."


The emphasis is mine ... but Morris is almost certainly discussing TGR. If he'd have been referencing 14ers.com, the author would have noted it in the story as a "smoking gun."

Reporters (if you are listening) should remember to investigate, rather than prove, a story idea. This means framing your story idea like this: "I've noticed this thing; I wonder if I can find out more about this and see if what I think is true" and not like this: "Here is this thing I know that I know; I need to find some sources who can reinforce this thing so I can tell other people about it."

On a positive note, the author here seems to have come with a premise, then abandonned it when he found a richer story (the 14ers.com community) and gripping narrative (the rescue). However, ego does get in the way, so, as you noted Bill, there are those few graphs that allude to TGR stuck in the middle. This is probably the original story idea's nucleus that, even now seeming out-of-place, the author couldn't bring himself to part with. Been there. Lucky for him (and us), when he started investigating and asking around about this thing, all these rich threads popped up and we have a different story than "TGR TRs are bad."

Stories are never what you think they're going to be once you dig in, if you ask good questions and listen. Premise-chasing, on the other hand, is what is slowly turning the MSM (and blogosphere, for that matter) into "truth factories" that actually pump out mislabled opinion.

I'm glad this reporter found what he might not have been looking for.

Sorry for the lengthy post. Deconstruction is my bag.[/quote]

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Postby gb » Mon May 14, 2007 1:09 pm

This is a fascinating discussion to me, and all of the comments have been very good. I could probably write about this for the next few hours, but I'll try to narrow my thoughts down.

1- The posts regarding reporters framing their stories first, and then fitting quotes and facts to support it are right on. I was interviewed for a story that appeared in Backcountry magazine this year, the story that went in the magazine was not the story that I was interviewed for, and the number of inaccuracies and outright fabrications really surprised me.

2- The differences between here and tgr are pretty interesting, although I really like them both. Either way, I'm always trying to remind myself to take everything with a grain of salt, misunderstandings are a given when people are typing in quick little things on a computer.

3- I can't help but feel some connection to this sad event given that my gf and I skied Humboldt just days before this tragic accident, and she did in fact put a TR on TGR that I know USAKeller saw and probably Talusmonkey too. I certainly won't sit here and say that that TR led USAK/TM to "get in over their heads" (a tragic mistake was made on a mountain within their abilities, IMO) or any of the other implications of the DP article. Still, there have been other TR's that I have done this winter where I wonder about the effect. There were a lot of groups going up the Crestones after my TR's there this winter. Would ALL of those groups have been there otherwise? Is that good? bad? Was anyone at all over their head? I don't know...

4- I like doing TR's (all on tgr, so far)- I send them to my family and friends, and I've met some cool people who enjoy the same things as I do because of them. For those of you who read my TR's over on tgr (where I am known as goldenboy), please PM me if you think i have ever come across as arrogant or if i seem like I'm bragging or any of that stuff. I try to stay pretty matter-of-fact and stay away from that melodramatic "I defied death, because I'm so bad-ass" type of prose that I sometimes see on tgr. Seriously, i don't want to write TR's that way, and I went through and re-read some of mine just now to see if i saw anything like that. So pm me if my tr's come off that way.

Overall, I thought it was a decent article, BTW.
For the most part

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