Saturday, December 23, 2006

Outdoor Survival - UPDATED

We've now been told that one of these men was found dead, frozen solid, in a snow cave near the summit of Mount Hood. That a sleeping bag and some other equipment was found in another snow cave nearby. That photos show that they weren't as well equipped as had been supposed. That the two who went to get help for their third apparently got disoriented and went north when they should have gone south. That these two may have slid some 2200 feet down a glacier and off the end. This is all very sad for the families involved and they will be in our prayers.

There are many lessons to be learned. Number one is "travel light, freeze at night" which seems self-evident. The other is "what can go wrong will go wrong". Plan for the worst. It makes day-to-day life difficult but sometimes gives you the edge needed to return to your family.

The great thing about life is that God has given us free will and let's us make choices. The bad thing is that we are responsible for making the right choices. Not just for ourselves, but also we must make the right choices for those who depend on us, those who need us. I think it must be terrible dying and knowing in those last seconds that you made the wrong choices.


These 3 men lost on Mount Hood have been in the news this past week. They still haven't been found due in part to the extreme weather conditions on the mountain. Why is this important?

Well, these three (3) experienced climbers went to an area with which they weren't familiar to attempt a one day summit climb during a period of possible extreme weather. When they got into trouble (lost, injured or snowed in, unable to move) one of the climbers attempted to use his cell phone. Now lots of searchers/rescuers are attempting to find and extract them from their misfortune. I don't know whether or not these 3 particular men are of this mind, but it seems that more and more often people put themselves in hazardous situations and EXPECT others to bail them out when the worst happens. They don't plan or prepare for the worst, indeed, they often seem totally surprised that the worst happened. Yet, without fail, they expect immediate assistance.

Yes, we've been conditioned to this at least somewhat because we DO respond to appeals for assistance. Some folks even give their own lives in an attempt to rescue some fool from his/her folly. This doesn't make this particular mindset right or responsible. "But wait" you say, "what about the children?" Ok, what about the children.

Children who wander away from HOME and get lost in the woods, children who wander away from their families on vacation and get lost in the woods, well they both frost my buttons. Not the kids really, but their parents. What in the heck were they doing? Don't you watch your kids to ensure they don't do wrong, improper, or dangerous things? Don't you watch your kids to try to keep them safe. You'd think that this never occured to some folks. How, why, can these parents think this way?

Do accidents happen? YES. Accidents happen. "Stuff" happens. "Murphy" is everywhere. But having a freak snow storm catch you at the base of a mountain in the middle of the summer isn't the same as going up on one of the highest mountains in the country in late fall, the cold season when weather is at best unpredictable even at lower elevations and unprepared/unsupplied for more than one day's outing.

I hope for the best for these men. I truly feel sorry for their wives and children. Risk takers put their families through a lot of worry. I hope these men come home to take care of their wives and children, mothers and fathers. I hope they are well and not crippled by frostbite, not starved and/or not suffocated in a snow cave. I'm pretty pessimistic though. These men did do more than many who find themselves in such a situation. They had left detailed info on climbing route, their equipment and planned time line. But, they didn't anticipate 70+ mile-an-hour winds along with snow.

I hope that you accept your responsibility for yourself and yours when you go into the outdoors. I hope that you will be profoundly thankful of the unexpected assistance of others in the exceptional situation which you couldn't forsee and for which you could NOT have prepared. In other words, I hope that you prepare for your outings and prepare for the expected possibilities of Murphy's influence on your life.

Michael Bane has his opinion as well.

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