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US Backcountry Deaths

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  • Matt Mason
    All this lightning discussion got me wondering about the most common causes of backcountry deaths. I found this article to be rather interesting:
    Message 1 of 16 , Apr 29, 2011
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      All this lightning discussion got me wondering about the most common causes of backcountry deaths. I found this article to be rather interesting:

      http://www.edarnell.com/2010.html

      Sorry if this has been posted before.
    • John Ladd
      Nice. Note how low are the risks we seem to talk (or worry) most about 0 crime (apparently) 0 gunshot (though his search technique may have failed to pick
      Message 2 of 16 , Apr 29, 2011
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        Nice.  Note how low are the risks we seem to talk (or worry) most about

        0 crime (apparently)
        0 gunshot (though his search technique may have failed to pick these up)
        1 altitude sickness
        1 Bear attack
        1 other animal attack
        2 lightning
        4 hypothermia

        vs. ones we don't talk much about

        61 falls (he says mostly not climbers)
        18 lost
        12 drowning

        I wonder how many of the falls are the result of weak navigational skills (in addition to the 'lost", of course), and how many of the drownings are the results of inadequate river-crossing equipment or technique.  There's not enough information provided to address this, really, but I think it is wroth thinking about. 

        Good news for us is that it's pretty hard to get lost on the JMT and if you stay on the trail there are precarious ledges and no river crossings with dangers much worse than bad scrapes and getting wet (i.e., you aren't crossing just upstream of deep water or a waterfall).  And I'm pretty confident that the bear attack was a Grizzly (not found in CA) and the "other animal attack" wasn't by a marmot.

        I posted the Link to our Links: Safety area.

        John Curran Ladd
        1616 Castro Street
        San Francisco, CA  94114-3707
        415-648-9279


        On Fri, Apr 29, 2011 at 6:52 AM, Matt Mason <masonmj84@...> wrote:
         

        All this lightning discussion got me wondering about the most common causes of backcountry deaths. I found this article to be rather interesting:

        http://www.edarnell.com/2010.html


      • Kim Fishburn
        I ve heard that this book is good. http://www.amazon.com/Off-Wall-Yosemite-Michael-Ghiglieri/dp/0970097360/ref=sr_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1304089311&sr=1-5
        Message 3 of 16 , Apr 29, 2011
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          I've heard that this book is good.

          http://www.amazon.com/Off-Wall-Yosemite-Michael-Ghiglieri/dp/0970097360/ref=sr_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1304089311&sr=1-5



          From: John Ladd <johnladd@...>
          To: johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com
          Sent: Fri, April 29, 2011 9:50:53 AM
          Subject: Re: [John Muir Trail] US Backcountry Deaths

           

          Nice.  Note how low are the risks we seem to talk (or worry) most about

          0 crime (apparently)
          0 gunshot (though his search technique may have failed to pick these up)
          1 altitude sickness
          1 Bear attack
          1 other animal attack
          2 lightning
          4 hypothermia

          vs. ones we don't talk much about

          61 falls (he says mostly not climbers)
          18 lost
          12 drowning

          I wonder how many of the falls are the result of weak navigational skills (in addition to the 'lost", of course), and how many of the drownings are the results of inadequate river-crossing equipment or technique.  There's not enough information provided to address this, really, but I think it is wroth thinking about. 

          Good news for us is that it's pretty hard to get lost on the JMT and if you stay on the trail there are precarious ledges and no river crossings with dangers much worse than bad scrapes and getting wet (i.e., you aren't crossing just upstream of deep water or a waterfall).  And I'm pretty confident that the bear attack was a Grizzly (not found in CA) and the "other animal attack" wasn't by a marmot.

          I posted the Link to our Links: Safety area.

          John Curran Ladd
          1616 Castro Street
          San Francisco, CA  94114-3707
          415-648-9279


          On Fri, Apr 29, 2011 at 6:52 AM, Matt Mason <masonmj84@...> wrote:
           

          All this lightning discussion got me wondering about the most common causes of backcountry deaths. I found this article to be rather interesting:

          http://www.edarnell.com/2010.html


        • Roleigh Martin
          Wow, this was very interesting. Thanks for the find, Matt.
          Message 4 of 16 , Apr 29, 2011
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            Wow, this was very interesting.  Thanks for the find, Matt.

            On Fri, Apr 29, 2011 at 9:52 AM, Matt Mason <masonmj84@...> wrote:
             

            All this lightning discussion got me wondering about the most common causes of backcountry deaths. I found this article to be rather interesting:

            http://www.edarnell.com/2010.html

            Sorry if this has been posted before.

          • vege_matic
            ... This is an interesting breakdown but I wonder about the 18 lost . Getting lost isn t a cause of death. What happened while they were lost that did cause
            Message 5 of 16 , Apr 29, 2011
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              --- In johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com, John Ladd <johnladd@...> wrote:
              >
              > Nice. Note how low are the risks we seem to talk (or worry) most about
              >
              > 0 crime (apparently)
              > 0 gunshot (though his search technique may have failed to pick these up)
              > 1 altitude sickness
              > 1 Bear attack
              > 1 other animal attack
              > 2 lightning
              > 4 hypothermia
              >
              > vs. ones we don't talk much about
              >
              > 61 falls (he says mostly *not* climbers)
              > 18 lost
              > 12 drowning
              >
              >

              This is an interesting breakdown but I wonder about the 18 "lost". Getting lost isn't a cause of death. What happened while they were lost that did cause their deaths? In New England those who die while lost usually succumb to hypothermia. Is it the same out west?
              -vegematic
            • Roleigh Martin
              I wonder if the lost are those whose body is never found and the reason for death is not known, otherwise if known, you d think they d classify that that
              Message 6 of 16 , Apr 29, 2011
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                I wonder if the "lost" are those whose body is never found and the reason for death is not known, otherwise if known, you'd think they'd classify that that way.  
              • noaliasformatt
                That s how it would be classified back in New Zealand. The lost ones are those that just never come back. They re normally found 2 years later in a river bed
                Message 7 of 16 , Apr 29, 2011
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                  That's how it would be classified back in New Zealand. The "lost" ones are those that just never come back. They're normally found 2 years later in a river bed - but we don't have the glaciers like you have in north america.

                  IMO alti sickness, hypo, falling, lost and drowning should all be classified the same way. All are succumbing to the environment. If only there was a stat for "unprepared for the area" i.e. glacier travel without harness/rope/skill, desert without water etc.
                • John Ladd
                  ... Roleigh s right - I ve heard from the author.
                  Message 8 of 16 , Apr 30, 2011
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                    On Fri, Apr 29, 2011 at 1:25 PM, Roleigh Martin <roleigh@...> wrote:
                    >
                    > I wonder if the "lost" are those whose body is never found and the reason for death is not known, otherwise if known, you'd think they'd classify that that way.

                    Roleigh's right - I've heard from the author.
                  • vege_matic
                    ... Ah, that makes perfect sense. Thanks for clarifying.
                    Message 9 of 16 , Apr 30, 2011
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                      --- In johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com, Roleigh Martin <roleigh@...> wrote:
                      >
                      > I wonder if the "lost" are those whose body is never found and the reason
                      > for death is not known, otherwise if known, you'd think they'd classify that
                      > that way.
                      >

                      Ah, that makes perfect sense. Thanks for clarifying.
                    • John Ladd
                      I e-e-mailed Keith Darnell, who compiled the listing, and here s his added information about Lost and other animal attack as causes of death. Posted here
                      Message 10 of 16 , Apr 30, 2011
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                        I e-e-mailed Keith Darnell, who compiled the listing, and here's his added information about "Lost" and "other animal attack" as causes of death. Posted here with his permission.  I didn't want to post his e-mail address without his OK (and I forgot to ask) but I think it's on the original linked page..

                        ---------- Forwarded message ----------
                        From: Keith Darnell <suppressed>
                        Date: Fri, Apr 29, 2011 at 4:04 PM
                        Subject: Re: [John Muir Trail] US Backcountry Deaths
                        To: John Ladd <johnladd@...>


                        I hope you guys found the information I posted helpful.  I pretty much gathered and compiled the information for the same reason you guys mentioned: I spend so much time in the backcountry that I just wondered what was really killing people.

                        I think the biggest unknown in the stats in the “Lost” category.  Basically, that’s people that were just never seen or heard from again, so it’s impossible to know what actually killed them.  If they hiked a mile from a trail and then a tree fell on them while they were eating lunch, then they may never be found, and we’ll never know what really killed them.  Of course, some (or most) of them may have actually wondered off and gotten lost and died of starvation or something related to being lost, but it’s just impossible to know for certain.

                        And, by the way, the “Other” animal attack was a mountain goat:

                        http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2013189753_olympicpark18m.html.

                        If you’ve got any questions about the info, let me know.  

                        Thanks!

                        Keith



                      • John Ladd
                        Guy died hiking in Yosemite this weekend http://www.kxan.com/dpp/news/ut-prof-died-while-hiking-in-yosemite Story says Butler died while hiking with family
                        Message 11 of 16 , May 16, 2011
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                          Guy died hiking in Yosemite this weekend

                          http://www.kxan.com/dpp/news/ut-prof-died-while-hiking-in-yosemite

                          Story says "Butler died while hiking with family and friends at the nation's first national park in California. He slipped and fell after apparently moving off the trail to let others pass."

                          Wonder if it was Mist Trail below Vernal Falls.  We were there last week and it was very wet and very crowded.

                          As Ned says: Be careful out there.

                          John Curran Ladd
                          1616 Castro Street
                          San Francisco, CA  94114-3707
                          415-648-9279



                          On Sat, Apr 30, 2011 at 8:44 AM, John Ladd <johnladd@...> wrote:
                          > I e-e-mailed Keith Darnell, who compiled the listing, and here's his added
                          > information about "Lost" and "other animal attack" as causes of death.
                          > Posted here with his permission.  I didn't want to post his e-mail address
                          > without his OK (and I forgot to ask) but I think it's on the original linked
                          > page..
                          >
                          > ---------- Forwarded message ----------
                          > From: Keith Darnell <suppressed>
                          > Date: Fri, Apr 29, 2011 at 4:04 PM
                          > Subject: Re: [John Muir Trail] US Backcountry Deaths
                          > To: John Ladd <johnladd@...>
                          >
                          >
                          > I hope you guys found the information I posted helpful.  I pretty much
                          > gathered and compiled the information for the same reason you guys
                          > mentioned: I spend so much time in the backcountry that I just wondered what
                          > was really killing people.
                          >
                          > I think the biggest unknown in the stats in the “Lost” category.  Basically,
                          > that’s people that were just never seen or heard from again, so it’s
                          > impossible to know what actually killed them.  If they hiked a mile from a
                          > trail and then a tree fell on them while they were eating lunch, then they
                          > may never be found, and we’ll never know what really killed them.  Of
                          > course, some (or most) of them may have actually wondered off and gotten
                          > lost and died of starvation or something related to being lost, but it’s
                          > just impossible to know for certain.
                          >
                          > And, by the way, the “Other” animal attack was a mountain goat:
                          >
                          > http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2013189753_olympicpark18m.html.
                          >
                          > If you’ve got any questions about the info, let me know.  
                          >
                          > Thanks!
                          >
                          > Keith
                          >
                          >
                          >

                        • manfred_kopisch
                          John, here is a link to an article about the two tragic deaths that
                          Message 12 of 16 , May 16, 2011
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                            John,

                            here is a link to an article about the two tragic deaths that happened Friday.  Kent Butler slipped on the Mist Trail and fell into the Merced River. James Dunbar tripped while running down the Upper Yosemite Fall Trail.

                            Ned is absolutely right: "Be careful out there!"

                            Manfred

                             


                            --- In johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com, John Ladd <johnladd@...> wrote:
                            >
                            > Guy died hiking in Yosemite this weekend
                            >
                            > http://www.kxan.com/dpp/news/ut-prof-died-while-hiking-in-yosemite
                            >
                            > Story says "Butler died while hiking with family and friends at the nation's
                            > first national park in California. He slipped and fell after apparently
                            > moving off the trail to let others pass."
                            >
                            > Wonder if it was Mist Trail below Vernal Falls. We were there last week and
                            > it was very wet and very crowded.
                            >
                            > As Ned says: Be careful out there.
                            >
                            > John Curran Ladd
                            > 1616 Castro Street
                            > San Francisco, CA 94114-3707
                            > 415-648-9279
                            >
                            >
                            >
                            > On Sat, Apr 30, 2011 at 8:44 AM, John Ladd johnladd@... wrote:
                            > > I e-e-mailed Keith Darnell, who compiled the listing, and here's his added
                            > > information about "Lost" and "other animal attack" as causes of death.
                            > > Posted here with his permission. I didn't want to post his e-mail address
                            > > without his OK (and I forgot to ask) but I think it's on the original
                            > linked
                            > > page..
                            > >
                            > > ---------- Forwarded message ----------
                            > > From: Keith Darnell <suppressed>
                            > > Date: Fri, Apr 29, 2011 at 4:04 PM
                            > > Subject: Re: [John Muir Trail] US Backcountry Deaths
                            > > To: John Ladd johnladd@...
                            > >
                            > >
                            > > I hope you guys found the information I posted helpful. I pretty much
                            > > gathered and compiled the information for the same reason you guys
                            > > mentioned: I spend so much time in the backcountry that I just wondered
                            > what
                            > > was really killing people.
                            > >
                            > > I think the biggest unknown in the stats in the "Lost" category.
                            > Basically,
                            > > that's people that were just never seen or heard from again, so it's
                            > > impossible to know what actually killed them. If they hiked a mile from a
                            > > trail and then a tree fell on them while they were eating lunch, then they
                            > > may never be found, and we'll never know what really killed them. Of
                            > > course, some (or most) of them may have actually wondered off and gotten
                            > > lost and died of starvation or something related to being lost, but it's
                            > > just impossible to know for certain.
                            > >
                            > > And, by the way, the "Other" animal attack was a mountain goat:
                            > >
                            > >
                            > http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2013189753_olympicpark18m.html
                            > .
                            > >
                            > > If you've got any questions about the info, let me know.
                            > >
                            > > Thanks!
                            > >
                            > > Keith
                            > >
                            > >
                            > >
                            >

                          • The Cisco Kid
                            http://www.fresnobee.com/2011/05/16/2390547/2-yosemite-hikers-killed-in-accidental.html#storylink=mirelated two deaths this weekend...at yosemite NP..
                            Message 13 of 16 , May 16, 2011
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                              http://www.fresnobee.com/2011/05/16/2390547/2-yosemite-hikers-killed-in-accidental.html#storylink=mirelated

                              two deaths this weekend...at yosemite NP..

                              RichardC
                              "I'm in the Mountains, not over the Hill".


                              --- On Mon, 5/16/11, John Ladd <johnladd@...> wrote:

                              From: John Ladd <johnladd@...>
                              Subject: Re: [John Muir Trail] US Backcountry Deaths
                              To: johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com
                              Date: Monday, May 16, 2011, 2:45 PM

                               

                              Guy died hiking in Yosemite this weekend

                              http://www.kxan.com/dpp/news/ut-prof-died-while-hiking-in-yosemite

                              Story says "Butler died while hiking with family and friends at the nation's first national park in California. He slipped and fell after apparently moving off the trail to let others pass."

                              Wonder if it was Mist Trail below Vernal Falls.  We were there last week and it was very wet and very crowded.

                              As Ned says: Be careful out there.

                              John Curran Ladd
                              1616 Castro Street
                              San Francisco, CA  94114-3707
                              415-648-9279



                              On Sat, Apr 30, 2011 at 8:44 AM, John Ladd <johnladd@...> wrote:
                              > I e-e-mailed Keith Darnell, who compiled the listing, and here's his added
                              > information about "Lost" and "other animal attack" as causes of death.
                              > Posted here with his permission.  I didn't want to post his e-mail address
                              > without his OK (and I forgot to ask) but I think it's on the original linked
                              > page..
                              >
                              > ---------- Forwarded message ----------
                              > From: Keith Darnell <suppressed>
                              > Date: Fri, Apr 29, 2011 at 4:04 PM
                              > Subject: Re: [John Muir Trail] US Backcountry Deaths
                              > To: John Ladd <johnladd@...>
                              >
                              >
                              > I hope you guys found the information I posted helpful.  I pretty much
                              > gathered and compiled the information for the same reason you guys
                              > mentioned: I spend so much time in the backcountry that I just wondered what
                              > was really killing people.
                              >
                              > I think the biggest unknown in the stats in the “Lost” category.  Basically,
                              > that’s people that were just never seen or heard from again, so it’s
                              > impossible to know what actually killed them.  If they hiked a mile from a
                              > trail and then a tree fell on them while they were eating lunch, then they
                              > may never be found, and we’ll never know what really killed them.  Of
                              > course, some (or most) of them may have actually wondered off and gotten
                              > lost and died of starvation or something related to being lost, but it’s
                              > just impossible to know for certain.
                              >
                              > And, by the way, the “Other” animal attack was a mountain goat:
                              >
                              > http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2013189753_olympicpark18m.html.
                              >
                              > If you’ve got any questions about the info, let me know.  
                              >
                              > Thanks!
                              >
                              > Keith
                              >
                              >
                              >

                            • ned@mountaineducation.org
                              I just want to say that it should be common sense to be careful when outside! I appreciate the references to our footnote, Just remember, Be Careful Out
                              Message 14 of 16 , May 16, 2011
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                                I just want to say that it should be "common sense" to be careful when outside!
                                 
                                I appreciate the references to our footnote, "Just remember, Be Careful Out There," but it is said because people forget!
                                 
                                Sure, accidents happen and we try to be as careful as possible all the time, but certain situations and circumstances should cause wilderness hikers to have red lights going off in their heads when they are noticed.
                                 
                                Ah, but there is the problem! Those red-light, hazardous situations and circumstances are not noticed until it is too late. We, as a community of mountain-experience-loving people, need keep safety first in our conversations and actions so more of these "accidents" don't happen.
                                 
                                You know the acronym, "STOP?" (Stop, Think, Observe, Plan) Sure is a good thing to talk about and tell hikers that they need to practice more often. The problem is excited, enthusiastic hikers don't recognize when they need to stop and be careful!
                                 
                                How do you teach hikers to be careful? Show them where the dangers are, how to recognize them the signs ahead of time, then, teach them how to stop and safely deal with the situation (running on wet rocks) or circumstance (the potential for losing your balance on any trail), because they will come up someday.
                                 
                                That is why Mountain Education is making so much noise these days...
                                 
                                Oh, well. What is that saying about "leading a horse to water?"
                                 
                                 

                                "Just remember, Be Careful out there!"
                                 
                                Ned Tibbits, Director
                                Mountain Education
                                1106A Ski Run Blvd
                                South Lake Tahoe, Ca. 96150
                                    P: 888-996-8333
                                    F: 530-541-1456
                                    C: 530-721-1551
                                    http://www.mountaineducation.org
                              • John Ladd
                                ... Kim is right - it is a very exhaustive review of all deaths in Yosemite NP thru 2006 with all known deaths at least listed (in categories) and many
                                Message 15 of 16 , Jun 1, 2011
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                                  On Fri, Apr 29, 2011 at 8:04 AM, Kim Fishburn <outhiking_55@...> wrote:

                                  Kim is right - it is a very exhaustive review of all deaths in Yosemite NP thru 2006 with all known deaths at least listed (in categories) and many described in detail. Over 600 pages.  Not for the faint of heart.  There are some lessons for us especially in Chapter 2 on snow-related deaths; 6 on falls while hiking and scrambling and 12 on getting lost.  Be careful out there.

                                  Available at SF Public Library. I've only skimmed it so far, but plan to re-reserve it and read the relevant chapters in detail next winter sometime.

                                  John
                                • Roleigh Martin
                                  That book, and many many more exist in the list of Amazon Books focused on the High Sierra: http://www.amazon.com/wishlist/2PXCEVHXL71IL/ref=cm_wl_rlist_go
                                  Message 16 of 16 , Jun 1, 2011
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                                    That book, and many many more exist in the list of Amazon Books focused on the High Sierra:

                                    http://www.amazon.com/wishlist/2PXCEVHXL71IL/ref=cm_wl_rlist_go

                                    Which I've been keeping updated.  Any suggestions are appreciated.

                                    Thanks for the reminder about this great book.


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