Part II: Personal Blunders in the Mtns

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nyker
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Re: Part II: Personal Blunders in the Mtns

Post by nyker » Fri Mar 05, 2021 9:00 pm

Making a foolish attempt at a day climb up Mt Whitney in early March on year after a heavy snowstorm... ](*,)
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Re: Part II: Personal Blunders in the Mtns

Post by ekalina » Sat Mar 06, 2021 7:14 am

Several years ago, a few friends and I set out for St. Vrain Mountain. Easy hike on good trail most of the way. We make it up to the saddle. Those that have been up there before know that the saddle is a particularly windy place, and this was a particularly windy day. Without thinking, I take my glove off to make it easier to rearrange some things, and set it on the ground. Instantly the wind roars up and grabs the glove, which rapidly breaks the 100-meter dash record (and the 200-m, and the 400-m, ...). Dumb, and definitely not LNT. A minute or two later, still not grasping the whole wind concept, another gust takes me off guard and pushes me several feet. To keep myself up, I put my full weight on my friend's trekking pole that I borrowed, which responds by bending in half.

Needless to say, we didn't make it past the saddle that day.
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Re: Part II: Personal Blunders in the Mtns

Post by CORed » Sun Mar 07, 2021 2:32 pm

I think I have told this story on here before, but not recently. In July of 1992, I attempted to climb Eagles Nest Peak in the Gore Range from the Cataract Lake trailhead via, I guess you would call it, the NW ridge; i.e. the ridge that starts just west of upper cataract lake. This was intended to be a Saturday day hike. I did this solo, and like an idiot, told no one where I was going, when I expected to return, etc. Mistake #1. At some point I left the ridge and followed a culoir on climbers right of the ridge. I started around sunrise, but it was slow going, mostly class 3, and I went past the "half of remaining daylight" turnaround time, but was high enough I decided to keep pushing for the summit. Mistake #2. I made it onto the main ridge of the peak, still with some class 3 (at least) scrambling to get to the summit when I heard thunder. That was enough to convince me to turn around. The culoir at this time was mostly scree but still had a pretty good strip of snow in the middle. I had an ice ax with me, and was concerned about whether I could make it to the trailhead before dark, and decided to do some glissading to speed my descent. Mistake # 3. It was really too steep for safe glissading, and I lost control pretty quickly, going off the right side of the snow into rocks before I could turn over and self-arrest. I ended up with a pretty good gouge in my right arm (still have a scar) and deep bruise of my right quad muscle as well as some bruising on the patella tendon. No bones were broken, but the bruises were bad enough that bending my right knee, even a little bit, was excruciatingly painful. When I came to rest, my ice ax was in the middle of the snow, with several hundred to a couple thousand feet of steep snow below it. I left it there, as I didn't need it to get out and slipping in an attempt to retrieve it would have been fatal. I ended up making very little progress down the mountain in the remaining daylight. I spent the night wearing every bit of insulation I had as well as my poncho (for whatever extra warmth it provide; it wasn't raining), on thirty degree or so scree, which made for a very cold, sleepless night. On Sunday, I elected to continue down the culoir, as I was able to negotiate most of it by sliding sideways, right leg downhill. I encountered one very short cliffy section that I had to downclimb, which was extremely painful. Also, below treeline, a section that looked easy on the topo map turned out to be a nice maze of flat terraces interspersed with steep rocky sections, and plenty of logs to climb over, which was painful and very slow to navigate with my abused right leg. I eventually made it to the trail along Cataract Creek above Upper Cataract Lake, and got to the outlet of Upper Cataract Lake a bit before sundown. I gathered plenty of wood to prepare for my second night (Sunday night) out. Compared to Saturday night, I had luxury accommodations: Flat ground with grass, and a fire. I even managed to snatch some sleep, waking up when the fire died down and tossing another stick on it. Monday morning I was able to hike back to the trailhead, call family and work to let them know where I was. I was pretty lucky; when I went into the rocks, by kneecap ended up in the gap between two rocks. Had I broken it, I might not be telling this story now. Also, I had very good luck with the weather. The little thundershower that turned me around on Saturday afternoon was the only precipitation I saw, and it was just a brief sprinkle with thunder.

TLDR: Difficult solo hike, with nobody knowing where I was, attempted an ill-advised glissade, injuring myself enough to significantly impair my mobility. Two nights out without proper camping gear.
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Re: Part II: Personal Blunders in the Mtns

Post by WVMountaineer » Mon Mar 08, 2021 12:56 pm

CORed wrote:
Sun Mar 07, 2021 2:32 pm
TLDR: Difficult solo hike, with nobody knowing where I was, attempted an ill-advised glissade, injuring myself enough to significantly impair my mobility. Two nights out without proper camping gear.
Oof, that one sounds pretty serious. Thanks for sharing and glad you made it out!
Fortune Cookie Says "Calamity is the touchstone of a brave mind."
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Re: Part II: Personal Blunders in the Mtns

Post by NatDog » Tue Mar 09, 2021 8:25 am

Last summer after graduating from the "easy 14ers" my hiking partner and I were ready to do something other than a class 1/easy class 2 hike. We decided to hike Castle and Conundrum during Independence Day weekend. We both bought ice axes to ascend the headwall and glissade down the upper basin from the Castle-Conundrum saddle.

I had seen videos and trip reports mentioning that the glissade was pretty steep and recommending to just re-ascend Castle and descend the ascent route. But I also saw plenty of reports of people glissading this section without any issues. We ascending both peaks and returned to the saddle by 0930 with perfect weather and plenty of energy. We would have had plenty of time and energy to re-ascend Castle but frankly were pretty excited to try the glissade even though neither of us had any experience using an ice axe. It didn't help that we saw other folks glissading without any gear other than hiking poles..so it must be easy right?

The slope immediately below the saddle had melted out by early July and we had to descend some nasty, muddy scree for probably 50 vertical feet until the beginning of the snow. This descent was unpleasant and steep enough that should have been another sign to re-ascend Castle. But down we went. My partner went down first without any issues, although he went quite a bit faster than I expected. I had watched videos on how to self-arrest and use it as a rudder to control my speed, but again, had never actually practiced with it in the field. Once I started gaining speed I tried to control it with the axe, but was unable to slow myself and didn't have the presence of mind (or muscle memory?) to flip over and self-arrest. So at this point I'm glissading down uncontrollably and trying to dig my axe in the snow from a sitting position until I hit a rock and go airborne. The axe flies out of my hands and after landing I believe I rolled over a few times. The landing zone was covered in some small rocks sticking out of the snow that I rolled over. I only had some minor scratches on my arm but no other injuries. Definitely could have been worse. Once we got back to descending the headwall, I decided to practice self-arresting and was able to glissade down portions of it before picking up too much speed. Better late than never right?

Lesson: Practice using an ice axe in easy terrain before relying on it in steeper terrain.
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Re: Part II: Personal Blunders in the Mtns

Post by ltlFish99 » Tue Mar 09, 2021 12:46 pm

justiner wrote:
Tue Mar 02, 2021 10:43 am
Wentzl wrote:
Tue Mar 02, 2021 10:34 am
Side note, anybody out there who can say they have done all 50? FKT to complete?
No one person has actually done all 50 Classic Climbs. Some of the climbs are completely out of condition because of climate change, some have fallen off the mountain they were on. A husband/wife team (Smileys) actually tried; they did The Casual Route as their first climb, but that's not even on the list (D1 is). Some pretty bold, Alaskan and BC climbs on that list.

I look forward to your Royal Arch story.
Since that book was published and the climbs have become increasingly popular, a lot 9f people now refer to them as the 50 crowded climbs.
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Re: Part II: Personal Blunders in the Mtns

Post by ltlFish99 » Tue Mar 09, 2021 1:17 pm

My first blunder actually occurred on my first hike with the CMC in june, 1987.
We hiked mt. Bethel. Not a long hike at all, approximately 2 500 ft. gain.
on the return trip to denver, I already had a headache. I thought this was odd as I never get headaches.
Someone asked, did you drink enough water.
I responded with all the ignorance I could put forth, oh yes, I had a full quart of water.
Lessons learned.

33 years later I participated in blunder #2.
Descending from the summit of Wetterhorn, just as you drop below the prow and start the scramble down along the ridge towards the yellow dirt area.

I dropped down a couple hundred feet early instead of a more traversing descent. I realized my error, but was simply to lazy/dumb to correct it by going back up to the right spot.

I just kept thinkiing that I could find a safe way down.
Of course, this kind of thought process is NOT safe, and has led to some serious accidents in the mountains.
Anyway, I get to a point where my intent was to sit down and lower myself into a gully. I thought with my reach,I could drop over a small edge and have a couple of feet drop to the ground.
As soon as I sit down, all of the rocks under me let loose. I then dropped about 8 to 10 feet to the ground and start tumbling. Fortunately, I immediately start grasping the ground slowing my tumble.
I came to rest after about 15 to 20 feet.
My immediate thought was, I'm ok, great, followed by how dumb was that not to go back up the safe way.
I was pretty scrapped up,especially my arms and legs, had a small cut above one eye and bruised ribs. I have never hiked the remaining 4 miles back slower in my life. It took me almost 4 hours to hike 4 miles and d that's going down.

It was the first time I have ever taken a fall in the mountains, and finally I have stopped the replay of the event in my head.
I have indeed learned more that one lesson from the experience.
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Re: Part II: Personal Blunders in the Mtns

Post by Wentzl » Tue Mar 09, 2021 1:44 pm

Hey ltlfish99. Glad you got away with one on Wetterhorn.

Just chiming in here to say that your unintended descent is a viable route. I have used it twice, on purpose, and it worked out fine.

I wrote about it in one of my reports and did stress that it is indeed very loose and accidents like yours are in there just waiting to happen.
Shorter of Breath and One Day Closer . . .
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Re: Part II: Personal Blunders in the Mtns

Post by daway8 » Tue Mar 09, 2021 10:02 pm

Over-reliance on GPX tracks

This one is hot off the presses - I've told myself for years that I need to be less reliant on the GPX tracks I always download on my phone and get more practice navigating with my map and my eyes.

Well yesterday I finally got burned - though honestly I'm still sightly dumbfounded that I managed to botch this one up as bad as I did.

I was hiking La Plata solo, a peak I'd previously done by the standard route, via Ellingwood Ridge and via the ridge direct route that goes up an impressive looking headwall. The latter is what I was aiming for yesterday.

However I left the GPX tracks from all these previous hikes loaded and displayed on my GAIA app. Perhaps it was sleep deprivation that caused me to look at the tracks going over to Ellingwood Ridge and say, 'rats, no one's put in a trench yet - guess I'll have to do it to get over to the headwall.' I did at least have the good sense to go uphill a little ways from where I had put those summer tracks in order to cross at around 10,300ft where I could see on the map that it was semi-flat.

How is it that I trenched all the way over to the base of Ellingwood Ridge through knee deep snow and about 200 feet up the slope before realizing I was going up the wrong ridge? I still can't believe I did that...

Then the next blunder after wasting 2 hours putting in a useless trench was racing back over it in 35 minutes so that I got totally sweaty. Followed hot on the heels of that blunder by following the next set of GPX tracks loaded on my phone which were from a November hike up the headwall in a previous year. That path wasn't too bad that year but I soon was sinking past my waist with snowshoes on as I tried to go up that path yesterday.

Finally, I did what I should have done from the get go - I studied the map and asked myself 'what's the most logical place to try to cut across from the summer trail over to the headwall?' Looks like a little below 11k is the most logical place to cross over.

I was greatly relieved to go up near 11k and discover some other folks had already reached that same conclusion and had put a good trench in that allowed me to still get over to the headwall and eventually the summit.

Toying with slight intermittent snow showers almost became the next blunder but thankfully the near-whiteout conditions only came in brief little stints which led to only slight occasional confusion on a basically easy ridge, but that was sufficient to highlight the danger of relying on visual line of sight during inclement weather.

So I've finally learned (perhaps...) not to be too dependant on any one method of navigation and to beware of blindly following GPX tracks, especially in winter, without studying them carefully first.
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Re: Part II: Personal Blunders in the Mtns

Post by Tornadoman » Wed Mar 10, 2021 11:40 am

My biggest blunder in the mountains was in college when I decided to summit Mt. Flume (one of New Hampshire's 4,000 ft peaks) via the Flume Slide Trail. I told no one where I was going, did not yet have a cell phone, etc, and no doubt was wearing mostly cotton. This trail basically consists of a bunch of rocks/slabs that are often wet. Naturally, I went after a fall storm had dropped 4-6 inches of snow a couple days before so a nice layer of ice was underneath all the snow. The beginning of the trail was easy terrain that had been traveled as it is used for a nearby peak, Mt. Liberty. Once I turned off for the Flume Slide there were no other footprints, but for a while everything was easy enough. However, once I arrived at the several hundred vertical feet of steep rocky terrain, it was obvious that traction should be used (which I didn't have) as everything was coated in snow over ice. Rather than turn around I hugged the edges of the slide and used vegetation to help pull myself up, more than once I literally had only my hands on tree roots as I was trying to re-establish footholds in the ice. I don't necessarily think falling would have been fatal, but would be very painful and most likely would have left me unable to self-rescue (who knows when someone would have found me). Finally I reached the easy terrain near the summit; and then traversed the easy ridge to Mt. Liberty where I ran into a couple other hikers who were confused by my sudden appearance. I descended the standard Mt. Liberty route (no big deal) to complete the loop. Definitely my dumbest day in the mountains; have had some blunders in Colorado but nothing has reached this level.

TLDR- Climbed N.H. mountain in unsafe conditions w/o proper gear; told no one of plans.
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Re: Part II: Personal Blunders in the Mtns

Post by Hiking_TheRockies » Wed Mar 10, 2021 12:13 pm

this one time in late May, I bought a nice new gopro so I could take some awesome videos the coming weekend and for the rest of the summer. I was going to do a timelapse of me hiking around the brainard lake area, and I jumped out onto this big rock in the lake, and then held the gopro out with my hand to take a selfie, and a fly or something flew in front of my face and scared the crap out of me, and i dropped my gopro into the lake :lol:
"The best views come after the hardest climbs"
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Re: Part II: Personal Blunders in the Mtns

Post by ltlFish99 » Fri Mar 12, 2021 3:22 pm

Wentzl wrote:
Tue Mar 09, 2021 1:44 pm
Hey ltlfish99. Glad you got away with one on Wetterhorn.

Just chiming in here to say that your unintended descent is a viable route. I have used it twice, on purpose, and it worked out fine.

I wrote about it in one of my reports and did stress that it is indeed very loose and accidents like yours are in there just waiting to happen.
Thanks for the link.
I was curious about that as I know there is a route from Wetterhorn basin, that comes over coxcomb pass.
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