Missing friend in Mammoth Lakes area


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Ice climber
Brujo de La Playa
Sep 12, 2013 - 05:04pm PT
It was 13 months before the plane and remains of Steve Fossett were found after his plane went down near Mammoth in 2007-2008, discovered by folks on foot.


Does anybody recall what happened to the missing Yosemite plane (not that one) in 2012?


The wreckage was just found in July, 2013.


Aside: Let's hear it for the YoDogs. Has anyone considered dog-assisted searching here?


Social climber
Escondido CA
Sep 12, 2013 - 06:16pm PT
Many have mentioned search dogs, but the response is usually trail gone cold, too many places to search, too treacherous for dogs......but I still think dogs are the ultimate searchers....

Sep 12, 2013 - 06:28pm PT
but I still think dogs are the ultimate searchers

Without their handlers first they can do nothing for you.

So your "ultimate" is not true at all ......

Social climber
Escondido CA
Sep 12, 2013 - 06:40pm PT
of course their handlers are included in that statement!

Social climber
Sep 12, 2013 - 06:53pm PT
Tioga...well said. A++++

I am just getting home from a long day of work and read the posts to catch up. We need to work together if we want to get anywhere.

Investigations do involve a great deal of problem solving and psychology. We have to get into Matt's train of thinking. Looking at old logs, as some have been posted, speaking to people who are close to him, reading emails, and checking phone messages are just a few ways. Investigators do this all the time when profiling people. Now we have to wait for results from the detective. This I why I posted yesterday and asked if Matt had any other hobbies. Ron and Tiffany would know him best as family, but any close friends would know what he likes to do in his free time.

"Getting boots to the ground" is another way to search for Matt. Can anyone head to Mammoth this weekend?

Perhaps a list of questions to ask family and friends, if they haven't already been answered, would be a another avenue to try. Sometimes just one question will trigger a memory of something Matt said or did that may have been overlooked. I experience that frequently in my line of work. Just a thought...I don't mind helping to make up questions. Split Pants has been keeping track of what has been asked and facts documented. We need to get inside of Matt's head and think outside of the box.

Through technology...
By foot...
Through psychology...

we can figure this out! We can't give up!

Nazareth, PA
Sep 12, 2013 - 07:54pm PT
Without their handlers first they can do nothing for you.

So your "ultimate" is not true at all ......

While a dog needs his/her handler to get the search started (gearing up, scenting the article, etc), he/she does not need the handler after that. Their searches would be far superior to just a sight search done by a human.

With that said - dogs would not be beneficial at this point, especially man-trailing dogs (such as a bloodhound). Humans shed around a million dead skin cells every day and a bloodhound could get started on a SINGLE cell, but too much time has passed now, with wind, rain, foot traffic. Dead skin cells blow away, decompose. At this point, there is no viable trail that any man-trailer can follow.

Air scent dogs - They don't follow a trail, but rather can detect the odor of the skin cells through the air. Again, even for air-scent dogs, too much time has elapsed. An air-scent dog would have to be in very close proximity to Matt to possibly pick up a scent. An air-scent dog would be no better than a visual search by a human at this point. Plus, air-scenters work off-lead and would absolutely have to have experience in this type of terrain. All areas may not be accessible for a dog. Air-scent dogs are not all cadaver dogs either. Cadavers require cadaver training, different from rescue. (I hate the thought of thinking of or mentioning cadaver dogs - but it seems it's a part of reality at the moment)...

Cadaver dogs could be of use and could detect a body for a substantial period of time. But, the problem here again is "a starting point." No one really has one, in addition to the dangerous terrain.

In order for dogs to have been used (successfully) in Matt's case, they would have needed to be brought in BEFORE the campground packed up Matt's belongings and put them in a locker. Keep in mind, twelve days passed before anyone knew he was "missing." That in itself was a lot of time that passed by, already making a potential K9 SAR situation difficult.

It will be up to the feet on the ground now...


Gym climber
Orange County, CA
Sep 12, 2013 - 08:28pm PT
Adding to lazydays (and rehashing), there was very dense smoke in the Mammoth area from a fire near Yosemite in early August. The smoke was thick enough to shut down Mammoth Airport on some days. Dogs would not have been effective according to the K9 handlers.

Nazareth, PA
Sep 12, 2013 - 08:43pm PT
I wonder what's was the distance they expected the dog to pick up the scent from at that point.

It's been a number of years since I was involved with K9 SAR and I worked with a man-trailer, but I believe the longest distance on record was 2 miles for air-scent dog (that was years ago, could have changed). And that was in the best possible conditions. But, more realistically, it would be between 100 and 300 yards.

Social climber
Los Angeles
Sep 12, 2013 - 09:03pm PT
Tioga and Lazydays,

Could the dogs used in looking for the plane crash have been air-scent dogs trained to search for the smell of burnt fuel? That might hang around longer and travel further than the scent of a person. :-(

Nazareth, PA
Sep 12, 2013 - 09:32pm PT
So, basically, if a person is slightly off trail and the trail is known the dog will likely pick up the scent. I was really surprised to see the dog used almost 8 months after the incident.

Air-Scent dogs do not use/need a trail. They do not sniff out a path; they sniff the (air in the) area. Air-scent dogs will normally take the quickest path to the subject, where as a man-trailer usually follow (or closely follows) a trail. So, if a "victim" travels a curvy mile, usually a man-trailer will follow the twists and turns for that mile, but if an air-scent dog picks up the scent, it will eliminate the twist and turns and cut through to the shortest path. So, in the case of the plane, if they were in a close proximity of the plane, it is possible the GSD would have found the plane, but without proper training (in this case, after 6 months, cadaver training), the dog would not have known that it had to "search" for something. All dogs have tremendous scenting ability,but in order to be a search and rescue/recovery dog, he or she has to be trained or to them, it's just a long walk...taking in the sights and the smells.

Could the dogs used in looking for the plane crash have been air-scent dogs trained to search for the smell of burnt fuel? That might hang around longer and travel further than the scent of a person. :-(

It seems unlikely to me that the dog would have been trained to smell burnt fuel. I would think that it would have been a cadaver-trained dog. Bodies that have been missing for years and even those in shallow graves can be found by cadaver dogs.

Nazareth, PA
Sep 12, 2013 - 10:15pm PT
Lazydays, what I meant by "the trail is known" is if the trail (actual hiking trail/route that was taken) was determined, taking the search dog along the trail would help to locate, in case the person went off trail and fell (as soon as they, say, within 100-300 yards off trail)

Sorry... misunderstood...

Yes... if the trail a missing person took was known, an air-scent dog could be brought down that trail and would have a very good chance of finding the missing person, keeping in mind, with any K9 search and rescue effort, time is of the essence.

Trad climber
June Lake, California....via the Damascus Road
Sep 12, 2013 - 10:15pm PT
"I agree that brainstorming - and this is the beauty of social media - with so many people is what ultimately gets results"

It's statements like this that give credence to why I won't be on this thread any longer....and why many of the posters here couldn't find their way out of a bucket.

This thread has turned into 'death by committee'.

Sonoma Jack

Social climber
Sonoma, ca
Sep 12, 2013 - 11:16pm PT
Not so sure what would precipitate your hostilities of idle brainstorming of topics that have already been discussed. The fact is, there really isn't anything else to discuss in this matter. Winter sets in, other endeavors take hold, and the Matt Green thread gets buried 20 pages deep into the Forum. I guess that's fine, if that's what you advocate. I, however, would think that any discussion on the topic is better than dead air. Keeping Matt Green's name on the front page of any publication, including Super Topo would surly be what feiends and family would prefer. not sure why you are advocating the opposite.

Social climber
Escondido CA
Sep 12, 2013 - 11:35pm PT
Perhaps it is my Quaker upbringing (in Nazareth/Bethlehem)in which all decisions for the group were based on consensus....but I believe there is room for all----brainstorming, expert and seasoned hikers searching on the ground, technical savvy, intuitive dreams and visions, dogs and other animals (who seem to be the masters of intuition at times), posters and pr, etc.

Also, look at how much we are all learning, in spite of the tragedy of Matt's disappearance.

Matt is not my family, and yet I get hope (and comfort) from hearing from so many people with diverse talents and backgrounds.

I say keep the energy flowing!
James Wilcox

Boulder climber
The Coast
Sep 12, 2013 - 11:44pm PT
Brainstorming, followed by inaction, is pointless.

Boulder climber
Sep 12, 2013 - 11:52pm PT
the search for the December 2012 plane (crash) ... in Yosemite
I was wondering about that. Did they ever find anything? It went off the radar at North Dome or something.
Crazy Bat

Sport climber
Birmingham, AL & Seweanee, TN
Sep 12, 2013 - 11:52pm PT
I have friends who run cadaver dogs. While on vacation their dogs alerted to a mass grave from the civil war.

These dogs have to be trained to recognize the difference between human and animal decay.

The handlers must be able to handle the same terrain as the dogs and vice versa. The dogs are even trained to ride a partners rappel. Cadaver dogs are all air scent dogs. They are trained to alert by sitting down so they don't ruin crime scenes.

I doubt they would be of use without knowing exactly where and what route he planned to take.

Asking bird watchers who where in the area if they saw flights of vultures might be a good idea.

Social climber
Escondido CA
Sep 12, 2013 - 11:55pm PT
BTW Tioga, that article about Yodogs was fascinating. Thank you!

Social climber
Sep 13, 2013 - 12:06am PT
Tiffany & Ron & Boots on the Ground Climbers

What are your thoughts on creating a separate thread that is strictly for:
-Areas previously searched
-Areas that need to be searched
-link to the updated map that is being maintained

This way people (boots on the ground folks) that are actually going out into the field will have a centralized place to find out areas that need to be searched, have a place to report where they searched and their findings (example, registers checked etc...) and discussion related to boots on the ground activities and coordination for people looking to partner up to go out into the field.

The thread could start with a general background (facts such as gear with pics etc...) then a list with links tags needed (eg previous trip reports). Basically a thread for the people that are physically searching and those that wish to help search.

This thread in its current state is helpful, but to someone that just wants to help search out in the field having to go through hundreds of posts to figure out where they can search could be a bit challenging.

Would like to hear thoughts.........
The user formerly known as stzzo

Sneaking up behind you
Sep 13, 2013 - 12:24am PT
May I ask what type of Subaru was Matt's (year, model)?

Regarding the MG13 account, I bet it does stand for mountain goat, as you suggest, because that's what's in the picture. The MG13 account continues to be active and hence could not have been Matt (though I guess admin people could have been poking around in that account too). Also, Matt already had a Summitpost account -- why would he have created another one? In any event, because the post refers to areas in Wyoming, I suspect it's a coincidence and not relevant to the current search.

I've seen:

 A poster on mountain project (brass monkey) who's from the Philly area, is a teacher, drives a Subaru, doing a trip to CA at the same time as Matt, and talking about going to the Tetons.
 A one-time poster "MG13" who appears on the day Matt disappears, on a thread which Matt previously posted on, asking about the tetons.
 Matt's Summitpost account is showing recent activity.

I'm a web application programmer and pretty experienced in the nitty-gritty of code & web app databases. Most web software would not say that a user account has recent activity simply from admins poking around; any app that did would be pretty stupidly programmed.

Add to that, the activity was for Sept 11. Let's assume that admins did poke around in the account, and that the app was stupidly programmed to record that as "activity". Does it make sense that the admins poked around yesterday?

Please forgive me for the far-fetched wild hair. Perhaps this has already been filtered out or discussed and I just missed it...

Is it possible that Matt has disappeared on purpose, and is headed to Wyoming? Could he have abandoned his car and used another one?

I know BrassMonkey's timeline doesn't match up to Matt's climbing with Jill. But what confirmation is there that BrassMonkey's timeline is true, and not a fabrication to act as a smoke screen?
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