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RememberSchiff

2 scouts, 2 scouters rescued Mt. Baker (WA)

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Posted (edited)

June 4 Searchers have found two 13-year-old Boy Scouts and two adult troop leaders who separated from the main group of 12 hikers and went missing Sunday night on  10,781-foot  snow-covered Mount Baker (Washington). They  spent the night in a snow cave.

"Mount Baker is about 15 miles from the Canadian border, and all climbing routes up the snow-capped peak in the Cascade Mountain range are technical climbs on glaciers with varying degrees of difficulty."

A Navy helicopter airlifted  the four off the mountain due to hypothermia and transported to a Bellingham hospital in serious condition.

Watch the video to see conditions and rescuer comments.

Scout salute to rescuers,

http://komonews.com/news/local/2-boy-scouts-2-adult-trooper-leaders-missing-on-mount-baker

http://kgmi.com/news/007700-boy-scouts-and-leaders-rescued-at-summit-of-mount-baker/

https://www.heraldnet.com/northwest/2-boy-scouts-2-troop-leaders-rescued-from-mount-baker/

Edited by RememberSchiff
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Great news.  Good to see all four were on their feet during the rescue, hope they make a full recovery soon.

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We will probably never know what happened, what decisions were made, whether they were good or bad decisions.  And so the rest of us will derive no benefit from the lessons that could be learned here.

I have long thought that BSA should send around after action reports on things like this so that other folks can see how things can go wrong, or right, and apply it to their own program.  Instead we get a G2SS that has rules, but we never get the real world lessons that can be used to make for better outcomes for everyone in the future.

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Posted (edited)
10 minutes ago, T2Eagle said:

We will probably never know what happened, what decisions were made, whether they were good or bad decisions.  And so the rest of us will derive no benefit from the lessons that could be learned here.

I have long thought that BSA should send around after action reports on things like this so that other folks can see how things can go wrong, or right, and apply it to their own program.  Instead we get a G2SS that has rules, but we never get the real world lessons that can be used to make for better outcomes for everyone in the future.

BSA has Incident Reviews. I agree those one paragraph reviews could have more details.

https://www.scouting.org/health-and-safety/incident-report/incident-reviews/

 

Edited by RememberSchiff
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2 hours ago, RememberSchiff said:

BSA has Incident Reviews. I agree those one paragraph reviews could have more details.

https://www.scouting.org/health-and-safety/incident-report/incident-reviews/

 

Fascinating, I've never seen or heard of these, and I try hard to keep up with available materials.

Where would someone be told about or shown these if they didn't have RS to point them out?

I will go through them, at first glance there definitely is some good stuff in them, but they would be a lot more useful if they looked at the decisions leading up to the incident.  For instance, under boating-river paddling there is a drowning in cold fast water, if we knew why and how the decision was made --- or not made --- to check conditions before the trip we could then apply that to our own decision making process.

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Posted (edited)
35 minutes ago, T2Eagle said:

Fascinating, I've never seen or heard of these, and I try hard to keep up with available materials.

Where would someone be told about or shown these if they didn't have RS to point them out?

I will go through them, at first glance there definitely is some good stuff in them, but they would be a lot more useful if they looked at the decisions leading up to the incident.  For instance, under boating-river paddling there is a drowning in cold fast water, if we knew why and how the decision was made --- or not made --- to check conditions before the trip we could then apply that to our own decision making process.

I believe @qwazse  first informed the forum  of the link some months ago, otherwise I would have not known.

Date, location, leader training background, responders , and a cross-reference to the original report(s) would be helpful. 

Safety information vs legal liability.

 

Edited by RememberSchiff

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13 minutes ago, RememberSchiff said:

I believe @qwazse  first informed the forum  of the link some months ago, otherwise I would have not known.

Date, location, leader training background, responders , and a cross-reference to the original report(s) would be helpful. 

Safety information vs legal liability.

Most days, I'll gladly take credit where it isn't due. But, I'm just the relay. BSA's very own @RichardB takes the trouble blow his committee's horn. I just read and link to them as various threads warrant.

The real statistics that I'd like to see (but are nigh impossible to collect) are long term relative risks/benefits. But, that's a different rant.

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Posted (edited)

June 5,  9:53 PDT update

The boy scouts and troop leaders are now recovering from hypothermia at Seattle's Harborview Medical Center. The boys are in serious condition in Intensive Care and the two troop leaders are listed in satisfactory condition.

Crews from the U.S. Border Patrol and Naval Air Station Whidbey flew in for the search. Navy Lt. Chris Pitcher calls it "one of the tougher missions I've ever had."

Pitcher says, "There were multiple thunderheads and other clouds surrounding the mountain. It was a relief to see the top of the mountain and know that it wasn’t clobbered in weather. That at least gave us a chance.”

While Pitcher acted as mission commander, Lt. Matt Schwab was piloting the rescue chopper. When the mountaintop cleared, they estimate there was only about a 30-minute window to pick up the stranded scouts.

Both  Lt. Pitcher  and Lt. Schwab were Boy Scouts. Someday you too may need to be rescued by a Scout.

Watch the video of Monday morning helicopter rescue on summit taken by Customs and Border Patrol aircraft circling above at story source link which describes other challenges to the rescue.

https://www.king5.com/article/news/local/rescuers-describe-airlifting-boy-scouts-off-mount-baker/281-561803361

Edited by RememberSchiff

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Posted (edited)

I believe this story is far from over. Rumor has it several in the party suffered frostbite. I was told the group had an  "epic" on the same mountain, in previous years. The newspaper described it as a "hike". It is, actually,  technical mountain travel where one ropes up to move  more safely across snow covered crevasses in the glacier, as well as protecting climbers on steeper terrain.

I've guided* on this mountain, professionally, twice.  Summitted once, backed off once, near the top.  It can be winter time on that mountain every day of the year, including June. On my last trip there we there we had just summitted the peak on the same route as the scouts, when the entire summit dome whited out. We turned around immediately and located our decent path before it was snowed in. No summit pictures, no celebratory hugs, just the get "F"-out-of-there, ASAP. 

Here's a few questions I'd be asking, as an investigator.:

-- How many times had the trip leaders been on the mountain before?  What was the weather like before?

-- How much experience did they have climbing peaks this high, during this season, with groups this size (three rope teams of four)?

-- What was the climbing plan? What was discussed as mission-abort indicators (i.e.  weather events, fatigue, loss of visibility) for turning around early?

The weather that day was crappy here in Seattle. We were doing our Pack's rank-up picnic at the same time, with frequent rain squalls, and wind a sea level.  They were climbing the mountain from the side which typically gives one a view of incoming weather.

Based on my personal knowledge of the mountain, I'd say this kind of trip is better suited for 16+ year-old's, with properly trained and experienced leaders. All to often, especially with inexperienced climbing leaders, it is easy to assume one's early successes in the mountains are due to personal competence, instead of, just, dumb luck. Add a little leadership machismo to this equation and your expedition has the potential to make the headlines, when conditions go south.  

This story makes me angry.  I believe the facts of this story show that the group had no business being on the mountain that day. Scouts got hurt because of poor adult leadership and outdoor risk management. This near-tragedy was totally preventable, in my opinion.

And, remember:

  • "Plan you climb, climb your plan."
  • "When you are on top of the mountain, you are only half way home."
  • "Live to wimp again."

* 18- 28 yr old students, on a 5-week wilderness mountaineering course. Glacier travel, crevasse rescue, personal energy mgt., ice axe techniques, are all instructed before "heading up the hill."

Edited by WRW_57
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23 hours ago, WRW_57 said:

This story makes me angry.  I believe the facts of this story show that the group had no business being on the mountain that day. Scouts got hurt because of poor adult leadership and outdoor risk management. This near-tragedy was totally preventable, in my opinion.

And, remember:

  • "Plan you climb, climb your plan."
  • "When you are on top of the mountain, you are only half way home."
  • "Live to wimp again."

* 18- 28 yr old students, on a 5-week wilderness mountaineering course. Glacier travel, crevasse rescue, personal energy mgt., ice axe techniques, are all instructed before "heading up the hill."

Based on the sketchy facts available I wholly agree that they were not prepared. The one thing I give the group credit for is sheltering in place instead of trying to self rescue. Yes they risked the rescuers' lives, etc etc... but if they hadn't done that I think there is a reasonable chance there would be dead scouts instead of injured scouts. I think in these cases it is easy to point to outrageous root causes of the incident but it is important to highlight the good as well as bad decisions once you are trapped in the incident pit.

I also like to remember:

"There are old climbers; There are bold climbers; There are no old. bold climbers."

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Posted (edited)

I agree that hunkering down was their best choice for extending their luck. Their second lucky break came when the weather cleared long enough to pluck them off, early the next day. Based on their found condition and required hospital stays, it would be a stretch to think they could have survived another day. One media outlet reported that the evening temperature was in the teens.  

To me, some of the clear lessons here center around understanding the difference between "institutional (scout trips)" and personal climbing,  and the risk one assumes in each endeavor. I think there are plenty of good opportunities in the higher mountains for scouts to have adventures and learn, without their leadership having to "play their last hand", cross their fingers, and then  hope the Almighty grants them a 30-minute-weather window for a Navy rescue helo . 

Prior to the break in the weather that morning, their choices were grim:  continue freeze to death in the trench they dug on the summit, or die in a climbing fall due to poor visibility.

As mention above, the irony of these situations is that  we can often ID the root causes only after they happen. Real mastery of  outdoor leadership is being  able to identify these dangerous roots cause as they are compounding, steer a course to mitigate them, and then continue to make the outing fun and educational.  I look forward to reading the incident review from National. 

The injured kids are from an affluent part of town, so they'll surely get the best medical care available. The troop has been around for more than fifty years, and is a good unit. Hopefully the lessons-learned will be broadly communicated, and the policy re-boot will be minimal.

https://www.king5.com/article/news/local/boy-scout-remains-hospitalized-after-mount-baker-rescue/281-562085823

 

 

Edited by WRW_57
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