Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

High Peaks fatality

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • #31
    This article JohnGS gives a lot of info.

    She seemed to be a sound and experienced ultra light hiker, but this time she went with nothing on her or did she? People who know her must know if she does this sometimes, maybe to go faster or feel more free. I don't get it, I can't imagine myself going to MacNaughton and bushwhack with so little gear, it doesn't make sense. Did she have a headlamp and did it work?

    She took a photograph of her at the summit at 5h12pm friday. She traveled in deep snow and the party that came the next day did follow all her footsteps so she had her own steps to backtrack. Also the party would have found her bag if she did drop it before the summit, unless they took another route. Can someone of the group comment on this? I learned the hard way that it's almost impossible to find something left behind in a whack, not obvious when used to drop stuff all the time on trails. Near the summit it's dense enough to not find something even with a GPS.

    The article says the last photograph was 5h12pm friday on the summit of MacNaughton and that she was in good spirits. Then they write: "The photograph indicates she had problems on the way down and wound up going through deep snow without snowshoes." I think they meant the footsteps, not the photograph.

    Something that could explain what happened is if it got dark and her headlamp failed. But she must have stopped at least 1h for darkness and I can't imagine she did this wet and cold. Hypothermia can confuse, but if I understand, this happens after extreme shivering, not instantly. I don't know how it looks in snow, but the summit of MacNaughton is full of blow downs and has a treed cliff, maybe she didn't want to get back the same way and then got tired in deeper snow. The steps would really tell how long she might have stayed there.

    It was frigid that night, I came back from my hike freezing under a big down jacket and I was dry.

    I wonder when she was in the Sewards. Last year when my friend and I broke trail in deep snow up Seward, we then headed up Seymour and at noon and 2500ft reached an asian woman breaking trail by herself. We were surprised to find her, because the night before her 4x4 was stuck on the side of Corey's road. She was full of snow and had some kind of knee/chin pads, she was using to slide trails backwards. She was determined, had good charisma but unhappy her group didn't want to do Seymour first. I was impressed she broke so much trail because she was so small and had barely nothing on her. She also had no chance to even get halfway to the summit before night. I had dropped my bag at the base and froze up there trying to bushwhack and find the herd path to Donaldson and we decided to go back, but we never saw her again.

    Comment


    • rich99
      rich99 commented
      Editing a comment
      This is puzzling. If these are her tracks, then the girl we crossed was not her and might not be the 4x4 woman. It was another asian girl from the group that decided to do Seymour first, while the others went for Seward on Sunday. Because we finished Seymour right when people were starting it. Hua must have been starting Seymour at that time. Then on Seward, another woman with no pack was there. It makes sense, because I never saw Hua with the shin/knee pads in referenced pictures. The other asian woman was in sneakers and had no backpack, which would just show that Hua was not alone doing this kind of hiking.

    • Trail Boss
      Trail Boss commented
      Editing a comment
      rich99. I believe the person you met is "Kim". Here is a photo of her from the Sewards trip. She is wearing the kneepads you mentioned.
      http://www.meetup.com/hvhikers/photo...arm...+%3A-%29

      Magnify the image and you'll get a better look at her footwear.

    • rich99
      rich99 commented
      Editing a comment
      Nice catch. It has to be her. Not sure if she did have the snowshoes up there, but she must have. I wasn't sure because she was sliding the hills backwards on her knees, so it must have been cumersome. All this mix up has influenced my memory. We still both thought she was far away with little gear and she was heading to Emmonds late in the day, much slower than both of us. In this picture she looks well equipped.

  • #32
    Originally posted by Hear the Footsteps View Post
    Davis got into a similar situation in the fall and developed hypothermia while hiking alone in the Catskills."

    Someone actually wrote a trip report about rescuing her, and she came in and responded: http://www.adkhighpeaks.com/forums/f...-dome-sherrill

    Comment


    • Kitsune_Soba
      Kitsune_Soba commented
      Editing a comment
      Yes, she got very lucky that other people happened to be hiking in a hurricane. If she had not, it is possible that we would have had a thread months ago about a death in the Catskills :( . Very sad indeed, Hua was a very strong hiker, and I suspect that her strength allowed her to grow blind to the risks.

    • Trail Boss
      Trail Boss commented
      Editing a comment
      Assuming the person rich99 met was also Hua Davis, it suggests the MacNaughton incident was preceded by at least two other near-misses as a result of her hiking choices. The MacNaughton incident was not as "out of character" for her as claimed (in comments elsewhere by acquaintances of hers).

      "her strength allowed her to grow blind to the risks".
      Well said. You've described "complacency"; one becomes too comfortable with the risks. It's an occupational hazard.

    • John fellows
      John fellows commented
      Editing a comment
      I was the one who met WaWa on Sherrill this fall, She lost her jacket on North Dome and back track for a mile.
      She never found it and went onto Sherrill where I met her soaking wet and near hypothermic.

  • #33
    Originally posted by Kitsune_Soba View Post

    Someone actually wrote a trip report about rescuing her, and she came in and responded: http://www.adkhighpeaks.com/forums/f...-dome-sherrill
    Seeing that the linked post never explicitly identifies "WaWa" as Hua Davis (only as an "Orientle [sic] hiker"), I'll assume you know for a fact they are one and the same. In which case the events in the Catskill case (Oct 2015) bear an eerie similarity to the MacNaughton incident.

    Perhaps her closest hiking friends have developed "selective memory" and there's less disparity between her previous hikes and MacNaughton.
    Last edited by Trail Boss; 03-09-2016, 09:25 AM. Reason: Typo.
    Looking for Views!

    Comment


    • Kitsune_Soba
      Kitsune_Soba commented
      Editing a comment
      I can confirm that she is WaWa, and that this was about her.

    • Trail Boss
      Trail Boss commented
      Editing a comment
      Kitsune_Soba Thank you!

  • #34
    Rich99 said "I'd hate to assume she was this unprepared when she would have in fact had all the gear lower half a mile from the summit."

    Not sure if it really matters whether she dropped her gear at a lower elevation or didn't have it to begin with. Both are choices that increase the risk equation. Every time we make a decision not to bring something we may need, we are increasing risk. And we all do it to different degrees. Maybe she always got lucky in the past or maybe she mostly made the right decisions, but this time she made the wrong one. I don't think we will ever know. I don't think there is going to be a singular learning point from this incident. I think the learning is a reiteration of how serious the consequences can be and that you had better make sure that the decisions you make in preparation are well considered and you know you what your plan Bs are when different things go wrong.
    "...he went because he felt the call of the wilderness, a call ever irresistible to him in whose veins flows the blood of the explorer." Warren W. Hart

    Comment


    • gebby
      gebby commented
      Editing a comment
      I remember really being struck by something in Burnside's "46 Adirondack High Peaks", when he recounts he and his son dropping their packs on Algonquin and heading over to Iroquois and then clouds moving in to the point that they couldn't find their way back and he wrote something like, "Never trade security for comfort". I think about those words every time I'm tempted to do just that, trade security for comfort.

    • rich99
      rich99 commented
      Editing a comment
      After all the new info, it's almost 100% sure she didn't leave a pack behind. But if she had, it could change the whole story if she dropped her pack and:
      -forgot her headlamp in it and it got dark
      -could never find it
      We know these didn't happen, but it could have.

      "Never trade security for comfort"
      It depends, security is complex. Going out hiking is trading security for comfort (joy). We usually drop packs to go faster and in a sense it can add security (and comfort) avoiding conditions to change. In good conditions, it takes 20-30 minutes to go from Algonquin to Iroquois. Would you pack a backpack for a 20 minutes hike? What's the threshold? If they took 1h to reach Iroquois and enjoyed the freeness of no packs and a snack while conditions where changing right in front of them or were threatening, that's another story! If they knew how to navigate in a whiteout, it wouldn't have mattered whether they had their backpacks or not. In their case, I guess they were right, in the sense that they traded too much security.

  • #35
    Originally posted by rich99 View Post

    She took a photograph of her at the summit at 5h12pm friday. She traveled in deep snow and the party that came the next day did follow all her footsteps so she had her own steps to backtrack. Also the party would have found her bag if she did drop it before the summit, unless they took another route. Can someone of the group comment on this? I learned the hard way that it's almost impossible to find something left behind in a whack, not obvious when used to drop stuff all the time on trails. Near the summit it's dense enough to not find something even with a GPS.

    .
    We followed her steps more or less until the start of the 'real' uphill whack. She seemed to be heading more in a roundabout way (around and up the east flank). We went on a more direct route up, and we found her prints again once on the summit ridge, all the way to the summit bump that has the sign. We didn't see a pack anywhere. The rangers, from what I understand, followed her footsteps pretty much all the way to find her (They had dropped a first ranger on Wallface Ponds, whose tracks we saw on the way down). I'm pretty sure the rangers would have found her pack if she had dropped one. The woods on the whack to MacNaughton from Wallface Ponds are fairly open (comparatively speaking, for High Peaks area standards).

    My wild guess given the prints we saw and the snowpack (pure speculation, must be taken with a grain of salt): by the time she made it to the summit sign, she was probably wet with sweat (trailbreaking alone w/o snowshoes) + snow falling on her and from postholing (one member of our party had no snowshoes and sometimes he sank at least mid-thigh behind 5 pairs of snowshoes). Then if she was at the summit sign around 5;15, it must have gotten pretty cold pretty fast for her w/o a change of clothes or the possibility of layering up for the route down. She may have tried to go down the west side to avoid her roundabout route up to try to save time...

    Who knows...
    'As you go the way of life, you will see a great chasm. Jump. It is not as wide as you think'. From a Native American initiation rite
    'Following our will and wind we may just go where no one's been - Tool
    Lyon Mountain Trail Adopter

    Comment


    • Trail Boss
      Trail Boss commented
      Editing a comment
      @Oliver
      Thanks for confirming the prints you saw were made by bare-boots and not snowshoes. It wasn't entirely clear to me if she was or was not using snowshoes.

  • #36
    Originally posted by JohnGS View Post
    Every time we make a decision not to bring something we may need, we are increasing risk. And we all do it to different degrees. .
    And just for balance, every time we carry things we don't need, we are increasing risk. It may be a slight increase but sometimes that is all it takes. For example, if fatigue becomes an issue then those thousands of steps with that two pound bivy are part of the reason why.
    Old saying goes something like "If you carry a bivy, you will use it". I also think sometimes there is a false sense of security in carrying "extra" gear. No piece of gear will guarantee your safety.

    This post is for entertainment purposes only.

    Comment


    • JohnGS
      JohnGS commented
      Editing a comment
      I agree that carrying too much can increase risk beyond the benefit of the extra gear and that nothing guarantees your safety. My point was that each of us has to make decisions about what to carry or not and that the consequences are serious.

  • #37
    According to comments of moonrage at http://www.lakeplacidnews.com/page/c....html?nav=5005 "A hiker who did all 46 peaks in one winter, mostly by herself ..."
    I can't imagine that a Single Season Winter 46er doesn't have enough skills to survive such trip.
    Is it possible that some health preconditions have contributed to her death?

    Comment


    • rich99
      rich99 commented
      Editing a comment
      Nowadays, the adk have lots of traffic. If you follow others tracks, cherry pick the trails, get lucky with weather, are fast enough (she was relatively fast) and do the bigger ranges with groups, lots of chances you could do it without major event requiring survival skill or self-rescue.

  • #38
    Originally posted by Oliver View Post

    She seemed to be heading more in a roundabout way (around and up the east flank).
    If she went up anywhere near an imaginary line between the SE 1214 meter summit and marker I placed at the outlet of the S. pond then I can attest from recent experience descending there that she would have had a hellacious time of it. Acme mapper

    Comment


    • Trail Boss
      Trail Boss commented
      Editing a comment
      RE: The eastern end of MacNaughton.
      There's a growing herd-path that starts near the bog (the big shrub on Neil's map) and heads in the direction of the final "n" in "MacNaughton". People have reported finding flagging along this route. I recall removing flagging at eastern end of the ridge.

      Perhaps she had followed this route previously and now, in winter, attempted to follow it again instead of simply going right up the middle (aiming for the "Mac" in "MacNaughton"). That's a long way to get to the marked summit (at the *western* end), especially if you're bare-booting in sneakers.

    • Oliver
      Oliver commented
      Editing a comment
      It's funny you mention flagging, Trail Boss, because although we were operating from our bearing to navigate, we ended up finding flagging some way up, followed it for a while (it was smack on our line), lost it, and continued on with our line. Her purported route would have needed to be more east-south-east (on our left when we were ascending) - if we are talking about the same flagging...

      Hopefully yes....I would hate to think that poor MacNaughton is getting flagged all over the place...

    • Rik
      Rik commented
      Editing a comment
      MacNaughton has had a problem with flagging for many years. It's directly related to people referring to it as the "47th" peak...

  • #39
    Mike Lynch of the Adirondack Almanack has updated his article with comments from Frederick Williams who states he had hiked with Ms. Davis about a half-dozen times this winter.
    http://www.adirondackalmanack.com/20...ers-death.html

    Long story short: Mr. Williams felt she was under-equipped both in gear and in navigation skills.

    It's more fodder for the discussion about what it means to be an "experienced" hiker. It's an adjective that seems to be liberally used to describe someone who's skilled at walking outdoors but not necessarily acquiring (life-saving) outdoor skills.
    Looking for Views!

    Comment


    • gebby
      gebby commented
      Editing a comment
      I'm thankful to see someone who knew her giving a truthful assessment of the situation. How angry we would all be if that Ranger was injured or if the dangerous night vision goggle helicopter extraction had gone wrong? I'm upset that a good person by all accounts took unnecessary risks with her life and is no longer here. Very sad.

    • Zer0-G
      Zer0-G commented
      Editing a comment
      I'll say it again .....Experience is a funny thing. You don't always have it when you need it.

    • MtnManJohn
      MtnManJohn commented
      Editing a comment
      I just read the updated AA article and Richard Williams's input. Very insightful. Thanks. I'm still shaking my head

  • #40
    Death is the most unfortunate outcome possible in a recreational pursuit. I have often heard the comment that at least he/she/they died doing what they love, but I don't share this particular viewpoint when it seems obvious that it was avoidable. I never like hearing about folks dying in the peaks and I hope that the family and loved ones of this latest victim are able to heal.

    A couple takeaways for me are that it's just plain stupid to hike a trailless peak in winter in pyjama pants and sneakers. It's inviting trouble. It's thoughtless. It's disrepectful to your friends and family to take such risks with your life, and it's disrespectful to the volunteers and professionals who have to come retrieve or recover you when your terrible decision making lands you in trouble. I realize that all kinds of people find their way into the backcountry and I sincerely hope that nobody here now or in the future would take such ridiculous risks.

    The other thing that comes to mind, and this is related to the "experience" question, is that there is a portion of the hiking community that has experienced what I call false positives. What I mean by this is that underprepared, poorly equipped, and woefully inexperienced individuals can have a wonderfully enjoyable experience hiking in the mountains. It's completely possible to have a nice breakfast, grab a can of coke and a candy bar, and go hike Giant on a nice day. This experience might lead the individual in question to do it again on a different peak and have a second excellent experience. Then a third, and a fourth, and so on reinforcing the idea that they have chosen a good formula for enjoying their new activity. Racking up a series of false positives which serve to reinforce the idea that they are becoming experienced. Eventually though, this formula for success is going to cause problems. It may be on hike 3, hike 8, or hike 100. It's going to come eventually though because it is more a formula for disaster than it is a formula for continued success. The false positives lull the person into a sense of security and accomplishment. They also make it less likely that the person would be accepting of suggestions and criticism because their past success reinforces the belief that they have developed a sound methodology.

    I believe that the false positive phenomenon played a factor in this unfortunate tragedy on MacNaughton. I also believe that because there were other incidents before this ultimate event which ended with less tragic outcomes that lessons which could have been learned were overlooked. That too is an unfortunate thing because the signs that an alteration in strategy was likely warranted were there, but ultimately ignored.

    Every time some awful thing like this happens we can all pause for a minute, honor the fallen, and take notice of what happened to make sure that we can learn from it so we don't make the same mistakes ourselves. Be safe out there folks, and watch out for those false positives.
    Adopt a natural resource. Give back.

    Comment


    • Yury
      Yury commented
      Editing a comment
      I like "false positives" term.
      It reminds me about my "accident free" driving history (with a few driving errors that by luck had no severe consequences).

    • Oliver
      Oliver commented
      Editing a comment
      Commissionpoint, in answer to your question: I see ignorance as different from being cavalier.... up to a point... in the context of, say, hiking (smiley) - up to a point in the sense that I have a hard time imagining people accumulating false positives without having some knowledge kicking in eventually. You hike ill-prepared once, twice, three times w/o knowing too much what you are doing. Ok. At one point, though, if you are interested in your own endeavors, you'll read on the subject; you'll talk to people; you'll compare notes; you'll slip on a wet slab.... knowledge starts to accumulate....then you could choose to become cavalier about it...or you choose to climb up that learning curve...

      So I guess I see ignorance as a temporary state.... that one could choose to make permanent...voilą ! LOL

    • Commissionpoint
      Commissionpoint commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks Oliver. I appreciate the feedback.

  • #41
    There is a lot of speculation on this thread. For those trying to learn from the tragedy, figure out if there is something you should add to your pack or some skill you should brush up on, know that Ms. Davis essentially broke every single "rule" there is. Most tourists walking the sidewalk around Mirror Lake carry more gear than Ms. Davis. Running up a mountain, touching the top, posting a picture on facebook and then buying a patch doesn't necessarily provide someone with the skills or experience to handle things when they go bad. A senseless preventable tragedy. I am so sorry for her family.

    Comment


    • MtnManJohn
      MtnManJohn commented
      Editing a comment
      I agree with you Scott. This is one of the reasons why I read and post the SAR reports from the DEC (among others). I try and understand, from each incident, what went wrong and what, if anything, could have been done to either prevent the situation, or deal with it once it has arisen. I also think about if I found someone in this situation, what I can I do to deal with it effectively and get the person to safety. This has meant making adjustments to what I pack with me, what I wear, and even expansions of my skills.
      Yes, my heart goes out to her family and friends as well. I hope others will learn from this

  • #42
    Originally posted by MaxSuffering
    .......

    No snowshoes... used a phone rather than bringing a map and compass... I hate to sound like a broken record. I'm not TRYING to be insensitive but reading of her other adventures I think the groundwork for this outcome was laid a long time ago.
    I would also add, when you cannot learned from a previous similar experience that almost ended tragically 5 months before nearly to the day of her demise, I could just say this

    If she would have been younger she would be a good candidate for a Darwin awards.



    8000m 0/14

    Comment


    • #43
      While we can all probably think of some piece of gear that one should ALWAYS have, I think CP's post about "false-positives" is the most important. It's most important to think of this when talking to others who appear to be totally unprepared, given that they have probably survived a few earlier trips similarly unprepared. I remember the incident reported on Wolf Jaws a few years ago where to hikers without snowshoes were challenged and angrily replied "This isn't our first rodeo." The same pair (very likely anyway) had to be rescued when they became fatigued in deep snow between Four Corners and Marcy. One must therefore try to phrase advice in terms that acknowledge the earlier success while suggesting that there is a better and safer way.

      I know that there have been many occasions when unprepared hikers were given a dire warning (by a ranger or other official) that they would likely "die if they went on wearing _____ or not carrying ____" When they lived to tell about it, the credibility of the individual who issued the dire warning went way down and made it more likely that they wouldn't heed the next warning. To one degree or another, all of us on this forum will end up being "educators", and I hope the above informs to make us better educators.

      Comment


      • #44
        I can't speak for anyone else on this forum, but I can present the philosophy my family and I hike by. First realize that I have been 4 season hiking and back country skiing in the Adirondacks and Whites since the sixties. This philosophy is the distillation of things that have happened to me or I have observed over the years. When hiking or skiing further than a mile or so from the road, regardless of season, we always carry gear to enable surviving a night out without outside assistance. In winter this means goretex, down jacket, warm gloves and hat, fire starters and lighter, emergency bivy or space blanket, headlamp and batteries, water purification drops, as well as some very basic first aid supplies. the extra weight is slight with modern gear, and well worth the effort. We have sometimes met folks who ask why we are carrying more than the water bottle, lunch and windbreaker they are carrying (often miles in on a snowing day. Our response is that its in case one of us gets hurt. If they sneer at that, as they often do, our not as casual response is: or in case you get hurt. We have never been involved in anyone's major incident, but have loaned or given gear many times to those in need on the trail. Just for that its worth carrying.
        Each of us is responsible for our own persons, and acceptance of risk is personal, I get that, but I also live by the old motto (paraphrased) "summiting is optional, getting home is not" Obviously Hua was comfortable with her choices, until it was too late.

        Comment


        • #45
          A person on this forum pointed this out to me today, I'm not going to repeat the story as its on this forum in Catskill trip reports Oct 3,2015
          North Dome / Sherrill.
          Rip in peace WaWa may you summit every mountain top !

          Comment


          • MtnManJohn
            MtnManJohn commented
            Editing a comment
            Trail Boss, not necessarily so; I hate wikipedia sometimes! The symptoms of the stages of hypothermia, or should I say between stages, overlaps. For example, the blue lips can be apparent in both stages, as is the shivering, tho uncontrolled shivering means you are getting into the moderate stage. That Hua Davis was coherent led me to conclude she was in the mild stage. Understand that whatever stage of hypothermia one is in, not all of the symptoms given in a WFA/WFR book will present themselves. Same goes for dehydration and other issues.

          • Trail Boss
            Trail Boss commented
            Editing a comment
            OK Mr. Pedantic, hence my use of "*may* indicate" and "*whatever* the level". :P

            Two engineers discussing technical details? What can possibly go wrong?

          • MtnManJohn
            MtnManJohn commented
            Editing a comment
            Yes, what could possibly go wrong? No wonder you and Neil never hike with me ;-D
        Working...
        X