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High Peaks fatality

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  • #76
    In the interest of fairness, do we know that she wasn't just trying to warm the mittens up with a flame? If you're light on equipment, you don't burn up your mittens.
    Hypothermia impairs judgment. This is a sad, sad thing to think about.
    Winter hiking -- "It's so easy an eight year old can do it!"

    - Photobug65


    • #77
      Hua Davis track can be found at


      • #78
        Yury. Thanks for the link; a very interesting description of the Rangers' efforts.

        During their bushwhack ascent of MacNaughton, the Rangers followed her purported tracks and reported finding deep post-holes (thigh and waist-deep) and evidence of struggles to extract herself. It suggests the ascent was extremely arduous and serves to explain her slow pace (indicated in Endomondo). The Rangers believe she was hypothermic by the time she arrived on the summit.

        Just to clarify, the displayed track was recorded by the Rangers (not Hua Davis) and reportedly follows her tracks. It shows she ascended MacNaughton's eastern end (coinciding with Oliver's description of encountering tracks leading east), traversed MacNaughton's ridge, and then descended the western end.

        She descended several hundred feet, in a direction just slightly west of true north, until she intersected a drainage on the west side of a saddle. She turned hard-left and descended the drainage in a westerly direction. I find this curious because a hard-right would lead east, up and over the saddle, to Wallface Ponds; she was heading away from the marked trail leading back to the Loj. She continued bushwhacking along the drainage for about 330 yards then stopped to attempt to build a fire.

        The track then changes direction again and heads south, up MacNaughton's slope. She travelled about 100 yards, and ascended 100 feet, before stopping for the last time.

        The Rangers chose to exit in the west so they followed another drainage and that's where one of them broke through the ice. He changed into dry clothes but, with 13 miles remaining, they chose to call for a helicopter extraction at Duck Hole (~1.5 mile bushwhack to the west).


        Looking for Views!


        • Hear the Footsteps
          Hear the Footsteps commented
          Editing a comment
          Her track from Wallface ponds reminded me of my first MacNaughton climb when I was duped by the landscape, viewed from the ponds, suggesting the summit is at the SE side. I should have researched that detail. The detail and the climb is described in McMartin and probably was in Adirondack Journeys but I didn't consult. I also made a navigation error. I was so sure of the direction I started to descend toward Preston Ponds but corrected things 5-10 minutes later. That first climb was on a hot September day. Much more forgiving.

          I know from other trips that the SE end is much steeper and thicker just before the ridge than the 'direct route' from Wallface Ponds to the middle summit (that has the elevation mark on the maps).

          If only she retraced her steps instead of trying a new route on the return.


      • #79
        Another news paper article. This one from the Albany Times Union


        • #80
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          • #81
            Yury. If your browser has a Reader/Reading Mode (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge, etc) it can display the content obscured by the paywall message.

            The article in a nutshell:
            The author briefly met Hua Davis near the summit of Grace last winter. She wore sneakers, appeared to be lightly dressed, and moved quickly. She dropped her ice axe. The author found it and returned it to her later at Slide Brook lean-to where she had stopped to warm herself by a fire (other campers). The author mentions other information originally reported by the Adirondack Daily Enterprise and Lake Placid News (and covered earlier in this thread).

            FWIW, using Ms. Davis' detailed Endomondo data, I found the date of her trip to the Dix Range. It was Dec. 27, 2014. She went up the Slide Brook trail and down the Lillian Brook trail.
            The data shows she paused at the Slide Brook lean-to.
            Last edited by Trail Boss; 03-22-2016, 10:29 PM.
            Looking for Views!


            • #82
              Is it worth some kind of display at popular trailheads, listing fatalities per year, with names and/or pictures? Would it help and make people thing twice before going in, or are the people who get in trouble going to do it anyway?
              46er #9404


              • Trail Boss
                Trail Boss commented
                Editing a comment
                It'll be a short list.

                The number of fatalities per year versus the number of non-fatalities per year comes out to something like 1 in tens of thousands. The odds are lower than being struck by lightning or winning the lottery. The major difference in hiking is your choices can significantly influence the odds.

                Listing the annual stats for injury, becoming lost, and distress (the top 3 SAR categories) might command more attention. Perhaps the campaign should be along the lines of "Don't be a victim!". It would proceed to describe what you need to do to avoid becoming a rescue statistic.

            • #83

              OK, that then. Given the traffic to the popular areas vs. where SAR has to happen, is it worth it?
              46er #9404