Safe Scrambling and Building Off-Trail Confidence?

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Limey
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Re: Safe Scrambling and Building Off-Trail Confidence?

Post by Limey » October 8th, 2015, 1:32 pm

Thanks Lurch. I was referring to the extraction. I imagine it would be very difficult in those situations. I suppose you could pass along the burrito like a sack of grain. I certainly wouldn't want to be the cause of SAR having to deal with something like that. We have good route finding skills and have never been uncertain of where we are, so serious injury is our main concern. We are therefore very aware of our surroundings and are very careful in picking the route we choose to go. If anything looks too sketchy we will find a way around it. Hopefully we will never need an extraction.

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Re: Safe Scrambling and Building Off-Trail Confidence?

Post by Lurch » October 8th, 2015, 6:09 pm

Rhodies aren't so bad! Try doing it through shin deep mud and devils club, or our best friends stinging nettle and blackberries. Carries/floats out of punchbowl, or over the log jam in Oneonta. The 'leave no trace' model tends to move quickly down the priority list when there are medical concerns, and we can and will mow down a path if needed for the safety of our searchers and the subjects. It's not ideal, and we'll certainly do our best to mitigate it, but the nature of the beast makes it necessary at times.

For you guys that don't know what I'm referring to when I say 'litter', we're not talking oldschool wood and canvas stretchers. Right now our primary is this beauty made of titanium, capable of packing loads akin to an large adult brahma bull, not that putting 6 people on it would really be capable of lifting that, but it's good to know!

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Once you're burrito'd up from the elements and secured in that it would be a slow process but completely doable. For obstacles we can't walk over, we'd stage people on the other side and simply pass you down the line until we're past it. If we're talking a serious log pile, than it could involve people repositioning after they've handed the litter off, it could include some rope work for stabilization or a safety backup or whatever. Our route finding in that sort of scenario is going to be drastically different from the average hikers and since we're considering where we can get the litter with the teams, what resources we have and the easiest extraction route, which may not necessarily be the closest or fastest. Once we get on trail we can generally strap on a wheel that takes the brunt of the load, and makes extraction easier.

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There are some caveats to that that need to be addressed with terrain conditions, and in some scenarios in wilderness areas it may not warrant the breach in the wilderness act (although generally for injured people extractions or body recoveries it does).

That said... please don't make us do a multi-mile litter carry... they're just painful and not pleasant for anyone involved... and for god's sake if you "can't walk! oh woe is me!" don't hop out and jog over to your car when we finish carrying you out ;)

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AAdamsPDX
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Re: Safe Scrambling and Building Off-Trail Confidence?

Post by AAdamsPDX » October 9th, 2015, 4:56 pm

Wow, so many great responses since I was last able to read this thread. Always great to get the SAR perspective. I don't plan on soloing off-trail much: certainly not at first, and then not until I get a DeLorme or similar device.

Lots of great thoughts on how to avoid injury. I definitely don't want to be a burden to SAR teams or worry my family. I confess THIS from Forester is also one of my primary motives for staying safe:
forester wrote:... in 10 years, having a body able to continue to do that kind of trip.
:)
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-Q-
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Re: Safe Scrambling and Building Off-Trail Confidence?

Post by -Q- » October 9th, 2015, 10:43 pm

Lurch wrote:Rhodies aren't so bad! Try doing it through shin deep mud and devils club, or our best friends stinging nettle and blackberries. Carries/floats out of punchbowl, or over the log jam in Oneonta. The 'leave no trace' model tends to move quickly down the priority list when there are medical concerns, and we can and will mow down a path if needed for the safety of our searchers and the subjects. It's not ideal, and we'll certainly do our best to mitigate it, but the nature of the beast makes it necessary at times.

For you guys that don't know what I'm referring to when I say 'litter', we're not talking oldschool wood and canvas stretchers. Right now our primary is this beauty made of titanium, capable of packing loads akin to an large adult brahma bull, not that putting 6 people on it would really be capable of lifting that, but it's good to know!

Image

Once you're burrito'd up from the elements and secured in that it would be a slow process but completely doable. For obstacles we can't walk over, we'd stage people on the other side and simply pass you down the line until we're past it. If we're talking a serious log pile, than it could involve people repositioning after they've handed the litter off, it could include some rope work for stabilization or a safety backup or whatever. Our route finding in that sort of scenario is going to be drastically different from the average hikers and since we're considering where we can get the litter with the teams, what resources we have and the easiest extraction route, which may not necessarily be the closest or fastest. Once we get on trail we can generally strap on a wheel that takes the brunt of the load, and makes extraction easier.

Image

There are some caveats to that that need to be addressed with terrain conditions, and in some scenarios in wilderness areas it may not warrant the breach in the wilderness act (although generally for injured people extractions or body recoveries it does).

That said... please don't make us do a multi-mile litter carry... they're just painful and not pleasant for anyone involved... and for god's sake if you "can't walk! oh woe is me!" don't hop out and jog over to your car when we finish carrying you out ;)
I hiked past an extraction on Three Fingered Jack this summer well within the wilderness boundary. Was very surprised (and very happy) to see the litter on a wheel. SAR does amazing work and you guys deserve all the help you can get.

Thanks a ton for all your efforts lurch. Its very much appreciated.

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Markh752
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Re: Safe Scrambling and Building Off-Trail Confidence?

Post by Markh752 » December 17th, 2015, 9:01 am

There is a lot of good advise in this thread. One of the aspects that wasn't touched on is before the trip research. There are scrambling routes that you might need to know whether to use the gully on climber's left vs the gully on climber's right. An altimeter is also helpful when scrambling. There might be a description similar to, traverse climber's right out of the gully at 7460'. In scrambling situations the lat/long feature of a GPS could be rendered somewhat useless. The margin of error built into a GPS could put you to high or to low and leave you in a situation that might not be comfortable. Just one more thing to think.

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Re: Safe Scrambling and Building Off-Trail Confidence?

Post by Lurch » December 18th, 2015, 10:22 am

I wouldn't say that a GPS is inherently less accurate than an altimeter.. By in large, I've found barometric altimeters fairly pointless in the gorge, their sensitivity to weather changes, and constant need for recalibration are clear cons. While GPS is still notoriously bad a altitude, I think it's safe to assume none of us are hiking AGL, and horizontal coordinates properly plotted can easily give you an altitude.

If you're doing off trail scrambling, you should have developed navigational skills and the ability to use the full trifecta of physical map, magnetic compass, and gps. Don't rely too heavily on anything that requires batteries, so in that instance I'll give a pro point for an oldschool analog altimeter..

I will make the caveat that the argument above mainly applies to my experience in the gorge, where the full range of altitudes you will most likely find yourself in is about 4,000'. The game changes a bit when you're dealing with larger mountains, with broader elevation changes.

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Koda
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Re: Safe Scrambling and Building Off-Trail Confidence?

Post by Koda » December 18th, 2015, 11:53 am

Now that we have virtually unlimited map sources for free on GPS enabled phones its easy to just rely on looking on the map position to get my altitude (not the device).

One time I discovered the hard way I didn’t properly pre-download the map layer correctly. When I went to revert back to my map and compass I discovered I no longer bring an altimeter. I made do, but realized how GPS technology is replacing some valuable essential skills.

and Im putting my altimeter back in the pack.
lightweight, cheap, strong... pick 2

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Bosterson
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Re: Safe Scrambling and Building Off-Trail Confidence?

Post by Bosterson » December 18th, 2015, 11:57 am

Lurch wrote:I will make the caveat that the argument above mainly applies to my experience in the gorge, where the full range of altitudes you will most likely find yourself in is about 4,000'. The game changes a bit when you're dealing with larger mountains, with broader elevation changes.
In my experience, I've generally found that in the high country the view is generally good enough to do a fair amount of your travel by sight (presuming you have a map, know where you're intending to go, and are proficient at picking a route through the terrain). In contrast, the OT in the Gorge is so enclosed and cliffy that even slight variations in terrain can spawn cliffs, gullies to nowhere, and other obstacles that you can't see from below and are too small to show up on maps.

I agree that barometric altimeters are finicky in the Gorge due to constant weather changes, and you need to make sure you calibrate the reference altitude at the trailhead. But they're still a useful tool: if you have a decently detailed map and generally know what land features your route is following (this gets at the prior post about trip planning), being able to quickly check the altitude against contour lines will tell you roughly how far along a ridge you are, etc. GPS's tend to go a bit haywire in some parts of the Gorge due to narrow canyon walls reflecting the signal, but are probably at least as accurate for finding your current elevation. However, with a GPS you do have to worry more about battery life (which probably wouldn't be an issue if you plan ahead and bring spares), compared with the substantially lower power drain on a pocket barometer.

Of course, there's also something to be said about using a barometric altimeter as a simple reference tool whose data you need to integrate with other information, vs a GPS that should theoretically be telling you where you are: think of how much attention you'd pay while trying to find an address via dead reckoning (think old school Mapquest: turn at the stop sign and go ____ miles, on a sheet of paper you printed out...) vs the newfangled "drive until the GPS in your car tells you to turn." Which way do you think generates a mental map in your head faster? :)
Will hike off trail for fun.

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Markh752
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Re: Safe Scrambling and Building Off-Trail Confidence?

Post by Markh752 » December 18th, 2015, 3:00 pm

Bosterson wrote:Of course, there's also something to be said about using a barometric altimeter as a simple reference tool whose data you need to integrate with other information,
This is what I was going towards with my previous post. Using my recent west side approach to Curtis Gilbert in the Goat Rocks TR as an example, it had plenty of class 2 and one class 3 spot if one stays on route in the maze of gullies. Going up was exactly what my research said the route would be. On the return trip we ran into a second class 3 spot. This baffled me. After we made it past this spot, I looked back and noticed that dropping down 8' would have put us in the class 2 that we encountered on the way up but I couldn't see that going back. From a bird's eye view (GPS track) we were only off by 2'. If a GPS has a built in margin of error of 5', that could have put us 15'-20' above or below the route.
Bosterson wrote:In my experience, I've generally found that in the high country the view is generally good enough to do a fair amount of your travel by sight (presuming you have a map, know where you're intending to go, and are proficient and picking a route through the terrain).
This is my preference for route finding above treeline. I carry a compass but I can't recall using it. I only carry a GPS or altimeter if I think that the route would dictate using it. But everyone has a different comfort level with different techniques/technology.

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Re: Safe Scrambling and Building Off-Trail Confidence?

Post by AAdamsPDX » December 18th, 2015, 3:35 pm

For those of you recommending an altimeter, and discussing the reasons for using one: this is something I've been thinking about a fair bit as I've read Roper's description of the Sierra High Route.

Definitely need to invest in an altimeter!

This is a case when the internet has almost too much information, though! So many choices with varying levels of tech involved. Which altimeter makes it into your pack? And why?
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