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Staying Together - Or not?

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  • Staying Together - Or not?

    The recent Basin thread made me want to post this topic there, but I decided to start a new thread.

    Recently, the DEC posted this

    From the NYS DEC Ranger Highlights email this week:

    "Town of Shandaken / Ulster County

    Search: On Jan. 22 at 8:52 p.m., DEC's Central Dispatch received a call from Ulster County 911 reporting an overdue/lost hiker. The subject had been bushwacking with a group of 17 other hikers who made their way to Fir Mountain and then on to Big Indian Mountain. At Big Indian Mountain, the subject became tired and was left behind by the group at approximately 1 p.m. The group exited the trailhead at 5 p.m. at McKinley Hollow Road, where the subject's vehicle was parked at the trailhead. Four Region 3 Forest Rangers searched the Big Indian Wilderness Area throughout the night with negative results. Eight additional Forest Rangers were requested from Regions 3 and 4 to be at the command post at the Belleayre Mountain maintenance building the next day. On Jan. 23, Forest Ranger crews departed for their assignments, focusing on the trails and stream beds. A crew working from the McKinley Hollow Trailhead located the subject hiking out approximately three quarters of a mile above the lean-to. The subject was escorted out of the woods. During an interview the subject explained that he had hunkered down in a protected drainage for the night and began hiking out at daybreak. All crews were cleared of the scene by 9:30 a.m."

    If you go to https://www.facebook.com/groups/Cats...tions/?fref=nf you might find a thread or two about this, one appears to have been deleted.

    Apparently, this was a HVH Hike. I'm not condemning the HVH, but the 'leader', oh sorry, the 'organizer', has a few things to learn if he thinks it was ok to leave this person behind, even if the person said it was ok.
    Tom Rankin - 5444W "In the depths of Summer, I finally learned that there lay within me an invincible Winter"

    Proud Member #0003 of ADKHP Foundation
    Volunteer Balsam Lake Mountain
    Past President Catskill 3500 Club
    CEO Views And Brews!

    Trail maintainer for the Dry Brook Ridge trail from Mill Brook Road to just past the Lean-to

  • #2
    Heckuva thread on the FB page. The host is certainly getting raked over the coals! I read some, skimmed some and skipped over some of it.

    I've posted previously why I don't like large groups in winter (or any time of year - but especially winter) and what seems to be coming out in that thread confirms my negative feelings for large groups, whether they are led, hosted or simple loose associations. Safety in numbers? Not in this case.
    1111111111

    Comment


    • Yury
      Yury commented
      Editing a comment
      I see a lot of "Virtue Signalling" in those posts instead of serious analysis.

  • #3
    Wait, wut? "Staying Together - Or not?" is not about personal relationships? Meh!



    ​Suggest changing thread title to "Herding cats. Is it possible?"
    Looking for Views!

    Comment


    • #4
      Left behind? That's not good leadership! :(

      Comment


      • #5
        left behind on a bushwhack? lame.
        46er #9404
        Pics: https://www.flickr.com/photos/145945713@N02/
        http://www.athikerpictures.org/syste...jpg
        https://smokebeard.wordpress.com/

        Comment


        • #6
          Warning: Strong opinion here. I don't care if you're the world's strongest ultra runner or if you've been guiding for 40 years. The group should only move as fast as its slowest member. Charging ahead when you know people can't keep up due to fatigue, injury, or lack of physical conditioning shows a lack of discipline, maturity, and mental strength in general. At the very least, always stay within shouting distance. At the same time, if you are the one falling behind and you sense the group might leave you, say something!

          I supposed its different of the group's members arrive to hike separately and have the ability to naturally split off into teams according to speed. That would be my one exception.

          Edit: I really only have this opinion re: winter hiking. During the nicer months I'm all for traveling at my own pace and my group typically does the same.
          “Getting to the top is optional. Getting down is mandatory.” - Ed Viesturs

          Comment


          • bfinan0
            bfinan0 commented
            Editing a comment
            I disagree - if someone is injured, or left behind, it should be their decision what happens. If it were me, I wouldn't want to hold the group back, unless it was excessively cold or otherwise problematic I'd have them leave me there and get the summit, then rescue me on the way back down. But I think that's highly dependent on the likelihood or possibility of "next time" - I don't believe in turning back even when it is probably safer to do so, unless I can be reasonably assured of there being another attempt.

          • FlyFishingandBeer
            FlyFishingandBeer commented
            Editing a comment
            Trail Boss I completely agree with you. I should have distinguished what I said between groups of strangers who do meet-up hikes and a small group of friends showing up to hike together.

            bfinan0 http://giphy.com/gifs/sdcc2016-3oEjHFKRRFPpMnqXUA

          • bfinan0
            bfinan0 commented
            Editing a comment
            Even -- especially -- with a group of friends, I would expect to be left behind, more so than with an organized group, since I would be letting down people I knew by slowing them down or preventing them from reaching the summit though?

        • #7
          Left behind? That's not good organizership! :(
          FTFY


          ​Meetup groups (and others) make a point of the fact there's an "organizer/facilitator", not a "leader". It may be (speculation here) because "leader" implies a guided group and then (at least in NYS) the guide needs to be licensed. That and/or simply to avoid legal repercussions in the event the "organizer facilitates the group" into personal injury.

          ​From what I read, the person "left behind" asked to be left behind and the organizer assisted the individual up to the point they parted company. To everyone who feels the organizer should've demanded the person remain with the group, please remember it's not the army. It's just a random collection of hikers and everyone is still free to make personal choices, including the choice to be left alone. https://youtu.be/SIdGzJBUJkk

          ​If a hiking group wants to operate like a military squad, then the sergeant, err, organizer should make that very clear from the get-go. I've never hiked under those conditions so I have no idea what happens in the event of insubordination or desertion ... but I imagine it would be grist for a lively thread.
          Looking for Views!

          Comment


          • gebby
            gebby commented
            Editing a comment
            Trail Boss The hike leader "Marty" had posted a link to the hike as advertised and I read over the disclaimer and while it posts that each person needs to be dependent on themselves, I could not find on the page for HVH where it says you will be dropped or have to finish on your own if you cannot keep the pace. To the uninitiated first time HVH hiker, you might find yourself surprised when you get dropped, if you can't pass muster and answer to the call of the group. Marty dug a hole and kept digging it deeper with each response.

          • Trail Boss
            Trail Boss commented
            Editing a comment
            Perhaps he needs to flesh out his disclaimer.

          • bfinan0
            bfinan0 commented
            Editing a comment
            If that's the case, the disclaimer should also include language that DEC not be called in the case of someone who intentionally left themselves behind.

        • #8
          I make it clear when I'm in a group that I'm leaving all options on the table re: being left behind. Including, if necessary, missing my ride home, if I'm far enough behind that that may be necessary to reach the summit.

          Of course, the one time this circumstance was relevant to that scale, my hiking partners refused to leave me behind, and turned me around by physical force, not understanding that they probably rendered me once and always a 45er.

          That being said, my outcome would have resulted in about 29 more miles to hike out with no food or shelter, but at least I would have gotten my 46, so I was entirely ready and willing to take that chance.
          ADK 46*/46 CATS 5/35 FT 4/28 Saranac 0/6 Bristol 6/6

          Comment


          • #9
            FlyFishingandBeer To add to your giphy, I give you my favorite reaction shot:

            Looking for Views!

            Comment


            • #10
              Over the years, separated groups have been the proximate cause of many search and rescue operations. It's understandable that a person who feels he is holding a group up will volunteer to turn back, while letting the group continue; but the leader/organizer should resist that request. Either promise a slower pace, choose an easier destination, or at least see if another member (perhaps one with more experience) i willing to turn back as well. There are, of course, circumstances where a group must separate, but each new "group" should be just as experienced and prepared with map, route information n, etc. as the main group. If that standard can't be met, then the group should all turn back.

              Comment


              • #11
                We all understand that the answer is "It depends".

                Let's assume I hike with a group in winter. I am slow and it's getting darker. The trail ahead is tricky to negotiate after a sunset.
                Should they abandon me or stay with me?
                -----------
                Additional info: I have a nice puffy jacket and am mentally prepared to spend a night out there. I can send an inReach message "everything is OK and I do not need to be rescued" to my wife.
                On the other hand my leader has only a t-shirt, a shell jacket and an extra baselayer.

                Comment


                • Natlife
                  Natlife commented
                  Editing a comment
                  I'd stay with you. The group shouldn't have to, but you're slow, possibly tired and stuff happens so someone should.

              • #12
                That's no "leader". Everyone should have proper clothing and the means and ability to make a shelter, and a source of light, particularly in the winter. I don't care what the conditions are, prior preparation, assessment of the team's capabilities, and a safety briefing (to include bailout options) are mandatory tasks for any "leader". I've been training guides and am a SAR team member for more than 25 years, and "it depends" is not a proper, responsible, or safe answer here, unless you are talking about leaving someone at a warming hut with other people also there who can personally escort the person out at a later time.

                A cardinal rule for any leader is to never split up a group, especially if some group members are having any kind of trouble keeping up with the others. Figure out some other way to "save the trip".
                Last edited by Nessmuk; 01-31-2017, 07:48 PM.
                "Leave the beaten track behind occasionally and dive into the woods. Every time you do you will be certain to find something you have never seen before." - Alexander Graham Bell

                Comment


                • #13
                  TB: I'm not a lawyer, but I have LEAD hikes in the Catskills for many years, as have many other Catskill 3500 Club Trip LEADERs. We drum it into our leaders and participants that we hike as a group.

                  The hike plan, if one is not familiar with the Catskills, is very demanding, involving hiking over 2 more peaks to get to the cars, a total of 4 peaks. My take on this hike is I would have not posted it publicly. If I knew all the participants, I might have planned such an aggressive hike. HVH seems to like this kind of death march. And there are plenty of people capable of it, at least 16 in any case. But to post this kind of hike is just asking for trouble.



                  Tom Rankin - 5444W "In the depths of Summer, I finally learned that there lay within me an invincible Winter"

                  Proud Member #0003 of ADKHP Foundation
                  Volunteer Balsam Lake Mountain
                  Past President Catskill 3500 Club
                  CEO Views And Brews!

                  Trail maintainer for the Dry Brook Ridge trail from Mill Brook Road to just past the Lean-to

                  Comment


                  • gebby
                    gebby commented
                    Editing a comment
                    After seeing this posted on here I started following it on the Catskill's page and then looked at the HVH site to see they were organizing to run hikes with the goal of beating Cavedog's record for all of the Catskill 3500's in less than 63 hours. Hubris.

                • #14
                  I posted this in a parallel thread. I know of seventeen hikers who should be ashamed of themselves.

                  I hike with strong hikers. The few times we've gotten ourselves into troubling circumstances in each instance it involved getting separated.

                  Don

                  Comment


                  • #15
                    Originally posted by TFR View Post
                    TB: I'm not a lawyer, but I have LEAD hikes in the Catskills for many years, as have many other Catskill 3500 Club Trip LEADERs. We drum it into our leaders and participants that we hike as a group.

                    The hike plan, if one is not familiar with the Catskills, is very demanding, involving hiking over 2 more peaks to get to the cars, a total of 4 peaks. My take on this hike is I would have not posted it publicly. If I knew all the participants, I might have planned such an aggressive hike. HVH seems to like this kind of death march. And there are plenty of people capable of it, at least 16 in any case. But to post this kind of hike is just asking for trouble.
                    Originally posted by gebby
                    After seeing this posted on here I started following it on the Catskill's page and then looked at the HVH site to see they were organizing to run hikes with the goal of beating Cavedog's record for all of the Catskill 3500's in less than 63 hours. Hubris.

                    TFR
                    ​I agree 17 is an unwieldy group-size. Based on your assessment of the hike's challenge, it's also a surprisingly large response (to me) to HVH's cattle-call. Like you, if I was looking for partners for a challenging hike (say, Sewards+Seymour) I wouldn't do it via a public broadcast. In addition, vetting a dozen and half people to ensure the challenging trip's success is not my idea of fun.

                    ​Anyway, the upshot is this was not your average, guided, casual hike composed of people with moderate hiking abilities (or less).

                    gebby
                    ​If this hike was part of a competitive goal then, frankly, I think it's even more reasonable (to me) to allow for, even expect, people to drop out along the way.

                    ​I trained with Neil to tackle the inaugural Saranac 6er Winter Ultra. A small group of us would try to complete the circuit in good time (maybe even the best time). I felt I might not be able to keep up with Neil & Co during the event; if I 'dragged azz' I'd voluntarily drop out to avoid slowing them down. In the end, I bowed out before the event because the weather forecast was too brutal for me and would most certainly cause me problems during the day.

                    ​I've joined Neil for many challenging trips notably when he began training for Project 46 (a winter ascent of all 46 peaks in 10 days). The ground rules were clear that either one of us might have to bail out along the way (and then fend for ourselves). Neil's the stronger hiker so the "bailer" would probably have been me. It never came to pass but it was understood to be an available option. FWIW, when our trips were in fact abbreviated, it was typically a mutual agreement.

                    For example, I joined Neil (and David) for a winter hike of Wright+Algonquin+Iroquois+Colden+Tabletop+Phelps with the understanding that I might bail out before or after Colden. I completed the full itinerary but had I bailed out and then something went awry, my situation would be independent of Neil's. Raking Neil over the coals for having let me split off (because I was done/pooped/tired/whiney) would be a reaction based on an incomplete understanding of the situation.

                    ​As I see it, someone chose to bail out to ensure the balance of the group (allegedly experienced bushwhackers) could complete the challenging itinerary. He was described as being self-sufficient, uninjured, tired, but able to exit. He probably would've exited if not for dead batteries that caused him to become benighted. He (allegedly) built a fire and survived the night. The next morning he was underway along the trail when he was located by DEC Rangers. As far as I know, he didn't require medical attention. Frankly, there's no error committed other than maybe "should've brought spare batteries and/or headlamp".


                    Looking for Views!

                    Comment


                    • gebby
                      gebby commented
                      Editing a comment
                      I did a hike with my ADK club last year and there were a couple of slow pokes in the group and the trip leader had to try his best to keep everyone together, but eventually, it was clear one group was faster and he let us go ahead. We took our number out of the original group and made a separate entry in the log, per the leader's suggestion and he got the slower group out and we had nary a thought to linger in the parking lot, knowing that the second group was in good hands with Steve and would get out. I did check in with Steve later by e-mail to make sure he had gotten home. Clearly, if this group was confident that this pokey hiker would have no issues at all, they would have taken off and signed his name in the book to check out later and just left. One group of 17 and one group of one in the book. There had to have been misgivings from the very beginning when they separated, in my mind, for them to be lingering in the parking lot waiting for him. And the fact that he had only one light and no spare batteries, tells me he wasn't prepared to get out alone. Someone wiser than I said on here, "if you have two essential items out there, you have one". I guess I'll just have to number myself with those who think this wasn't handled correctly and face the fact that you and I won't see eye to eye on this.
                      Last edited by gebby; 02-01-2017, 07:16 PM.

                    • Trail Boss
                      Trail Boss commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Lots of speculation there except for the last part about not seeing eye to eye. I can confirm that part. No harm, no foul. Good discussion.

                      I'm unaware of "if you have two essential items out there, you have one" but I have heard "two is one, one is none". Close enough, I guess. The adage has merit but also has practical limits (like, do you carry two SPOTs?). Sometimes the solution isn't a belt and suspenders but just the right size of pants.
                      Last edited by Trail Boss; 02-01-2017, 10:17 PM. Reason: Can't get my adages straight ...

                    • gebby
                      gebby commented
                      Editing a comment
                      I'm sure I just paraphrased that 2 means 1 thing wrong, but you knew what I meant.
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