Missing friend in Mammoth Lakes area

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Messages 1961 - 1980 of total 2337 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
crankster

Trad climber
South Lake Tahoe, CA
Oct 7, 2013 - 10:51pm PT
I follow High Sierra Topix and it seems to me Peter, aka, Maverick, has a good handle on SAR and Ritter Range environs. His posts on the search for Matt make a lot of sense. Obviously, the #1 priority is not contributing to a situation that adds additional victims.

The fact is, there's not one solid clue as to Matt's specific destination, or whether he even reached it. Matt may have experienced an accident/incident on low/moderate terrain on the approach or descent. People with cross-country experience could be just as useful as experienced climbers.

This assumes everyone is using SAR protocol of communication, etc,.

Cragman, I understand your points. I'm only suggesting people with strong backcountry skills who are not technical climbers could search off-trail/approach/descent areas.




kenish

Gym climber
Orange County, CA
Oct 7, 2013 - 11:05pm PT
I will butt in, huge apologies in advance but I have to speak up.

Organizing people by their self-assessed ability, compiling equipment lists, etc. is futile at best and sets the stage for grim consequences at worst. Anyone needing to answer those questions for an "organizer" or for themselves is not qualified by default. (I've done a lot of backpacking, a little climbing, and know the Sierras well. I also know that I'm completely unqualified for the task). Posting to other websites is great. Once aware of the situation, anyone with the ability and heart to volunteer (like Cragman and everyone else who's put in effort) will come forward without being asked.

Maverick and Supermama, be aware that you assume legal liability by merely organizing this activity. It sounds borderline ridiculous but sadly, it's the times we all live in. Anyone involved is exposed; well-meaning people have been sued after a "volunteer" effort ended badly. Piles of waivers won't help. Cragman's comment may be due to feeling a legal and an ethical burden would be forced on him.

A search team of climbers trusts their lives to other team members- in the most literal sense. That trust is built over months and years...and not with total strangers who self-assessed their abilities online.

There also seems to a lack of understanding of how truly rugged and unforgiving the terrain is. Totally understandable from 2500 miles away if you've never been to the Sierras, and presumably some of what appealed to Matt. Even though he's probably within 15 miles of a major ski resort, it's not like a missing hiker in a state park on the East Coast.

Everyone's doing a great job keeping the search going, through their heart and skills. But in my humble opinion, it's best to focus our energies on our individual expertise. If anyone needs manpower, ideas, or information they will surely request it.

Edit: I live in the suburban fringe of LA and go mountain biking on the local trails. Every few weeks, I come across people with high-end equipment who are totally lost. The Sierras aren't the place to send anyone lacking basic orienteering skills. Who's going to assess their abilities before sending them into the back country?

@Crankster- Good comments above...will there be a test of "SAR protocol"? I would fail the test.
Cragman

Trad climber
June Lake, California....via the Damascus Road
Oct 7, 2013 - 11:20pm PT
kenish is wise....
pacarockhound

Social climber
Escondido CA
Oct 8, 2013 - 03:29pm PT
Cragman, I understand your points. I'm only suggesting people with strong backcountry skills who are not technical climbers could search off-trail/approach/descent areas.


Crankster, This was my thinking also.
HighTraverse

Trad climber
Bay Area
Oct 8, 2013 - 04:48pm PT
off-trail/approach/descent areas.
The Minarets area is rather different than many Sierra Nevada peak groups. It's true that in the Minarets you can get into very dangerous terrain almost before you know it (voice of experience). I believe this is what happened to Matt. Most of the approaches and descents require experience and a good deal of caution.

Dean's earlier reconnaissance and excellent photos show how quickly "wandering about" could lead to trouble.

However, Steve Fossett's air crash was found in relatively easy terrain in the Minarets region (Northeast side of Volcanic Ridge) after 13 months.
There is a lot of easy to moderate ground in the Minarets / Ritter area that could be checked.
I hesitate to use the term "search" as that entails organization rather than ad hoc looking around. Much of that ground does get significant travel in the summer months, some of those areas not so much.

Unfortunately, as has been pointed out, unofficial "organized" searching is fraught with personal and legal risk and is best not done. There is nothing to be gained by anyone putting themselves in physical or legal jeopardy.
Supermama

Social climber
pa
Oct 8, 2013 - 08:21pm PT
Kenish, Cragman et al.

Point taken...I will stick to what I know best and butt out. Not trying to micromanage from Pa, just a colleague offering to help. Just to remind you, I did recommend Dan Watson and SAR be contacted. I have not posted or promoted this search in any way.

Hopefully, Matt's family will understand. This has to be difficult for them to read. My deepest sympathy goes out to them. Matt will be greatly missed by his family at NASD.

Supermama
zBrown

Ice climber
Brujo de La Playa
Oct 8, 2013 - 10:10pm PT
I always liked the commercial with the eTrade baby saying, that's like "the odds of getting attacked by a polar bear and regular bear on the same day".

Much as I would like traces of Matt to be found, it's going to happen by chance at some completely unknown time in the future.



Kalimon

Social climber
Ridgway, CO
Oct 8, 2013 - 10:27pm PT
zB = wise one.
Cragman

Trad climber
June Lake, California....via the Damascus Road
Oct 8, 2013 - 10:36pm PT
I have shared concerns privately with maverick01 via email...essentially they are as follows....

The Ritter Range does not fall under Mammoth PD or Mono County Sheriff jurisdiciton...it is actually in Madera County.

Trying to "organize" a search on your own opens you up to all kinds of liability issues, as was stated up thread last evening.

What I suggested to maverick01 was that if he and his personal friends that he knows and can vouche for their capabilites want to go in and search...great. To try and enlist volunteers who are complete strangers is to cross a line into very dodgy territory.....a place where you do not belong.

Matthew's family read this thread daily...they know exactly what has transpired to date...and they know Matthew is gone. We all want the same thing for them....closure. I believe that can be achieved....it is simply of matter of when, and unfortunately, that will likely not be very soon.

As I have stated on this thread, as well as the two regarding my search efforts...this is the ultimate needle in a haystack. Active searching can find where Matthew left us.....but in all likelihood, it will be by someone traveling along a rugged area somewhere in the future...again, hopefully sooner than later.

My suggestion at this juncture would be this....if you are an experienced climber, have partners with experience, and want to search....do it. Beyond that, at this point there is nothing more to do...especially in the area of trying to organize an ad hoc search.

FYI....there is 2 to 6 inches of snow in the forecast for the Range tomorrow.....and a couple feet of wind.
pacarockhound

Social climber
Escondido CA
Oct 8, 2013 - 11:11pm PT
Much as I would like traces of Matt to be found, it's going to happen by chance at some completely unknown time in the future.

Perhaps... but who knows...
kenish

Gym climber
Orange County, CA
Oct 8, 2013 - 11:45pm PT
I will stick to what I know best and butt out. Not trying to micromanage from Pa, just a colleague offering to help. Just to remind you, I did recommend Dan Watson and SAR be contacted. I have not posted or promoted this search in any way.

You're definitely invaluable by diligently following leads and organizing facts and information. That's your core expertise that many others don't have, and your presence in PA is another huge benefit that gets results that can't happen in CA. I think the post about scraping together a search effort is what concerned some of the seasoned experts in the area.

As others said, we all want results and closure, and you're no doubt near the top of that list. You're also one of the key people in this effort. Everyone continuing to apply their heart, efforts, and talents will get results...but we all must be careful about becoming overzealous. No harm, no foul- my $0.02 worth!
pacarockhound

Social climber
Escondido CA
Oct 9, 2013 - 01:39am PT

Huh, if you got internet access for an hour or so wouldn't you be checking out more info on your tomorrow's big climb/trip you get up for at 3am, and checking the weather forecast as well, especially you're basically killing time? If there's nothing found in his pages, wouldn't it speak against a big climb with long approach to a new, not previously visited destination.. I dunno, I might be wrong, but just kind of odd.

Tioga, this is an interesting point. What do others think about this?
LAhiker

Social climber
Los Angeles
Oct 9, 2013 - 02:16pm PT
Pacarockhound quoted Tioga:
Huh, if you got internet access for an hour or so wouldn't you be checking out more info on your tomorrow's big climb/trip you get up for at 3am, and checking the weather forecast as well, especially you're basically killing time? If there's nothing found in his pages, wouldn't it speak against a big climb with long approach to a new, not previously visited destination.. I dunno, I might be wrong, but just kind of odd.
Tioga, this is an interesting point. What do others think about this?


I think this may mean that at the time of that first library computer session that Matt either (a) had a specific climbing/hiking plan for the next day that was so well-developed that he didnít need to research it further, (b) had no specific plan but had some well-researched possibilities or (c) had no particular plans for Wednesday.

Though (a) is possible, I think the evidence points toward (b) or (c). As Tioga implies, even if Matt had had a previously decided well-developed plan at that point, wouldnít he have done searches regarding his destination, just to see if there was something new? From Tiffanyís report about that first internet session, it sounds like Matt was more focused on heading on to Colorado.

(I donít know whether Tiffany has had the chance to wade through more of the huge number of library records for the 16th to see whether Matt signed up for any more internet sessions after that. Itís free to use the PCs but you have to sign up for hour-long sessions and then if the library is busy may have to wait until you can sign up again.)
LAhiker

Social climber
Los Angeles
Oct 9, 2013 - 02:21pm PT
Iíve been thinking about the timeline in relation to the new info re the conversation with Arnold and the library records.

Thursday, July 11 -- Matt took the shuttle and climbed Clyde Minaret (solo).
Friday Ė he did solo climbs in the Mammoth Crest area, called the repair shop, and had dinner with the Morales family. According to Jill, Matt told Arnold about past and future climbs and showed him photocopied pages from Secor including the page with Ritter and Banner as well as a page with Lyell. He said there were two climbs he wanted to do before leaving Mammoth, one being in Yosemite. He mentioned difficult moments in the Minarets and appeared very interested in the Ritter/Banner page.
Saturday -- he climbed Unicorn peak (solo; Yosemite).
Sunday Ė we donít know.
Monday Ėgot up early; unconfirmed report that he went to Tuolumne to climb some domes.

On Tuesday the 16th, he went to the library, went online, and did texting and calling.
At least in his web session from ~10:50am to 11:50am PST (we donít know yet if there were other sessions), though he appears to be looking at sites of interest to him, it doesnít look like he was researching a particular climb.

At 3:00pm he sent a text and at 3:06pm called his parents and spoke for 24 minutes; he was just south of the library. Then at 4:29 and 4:35pm, apparently from the vicinity of Mammoth Mountain (perhaps near the lodge), he made 2 brief calls to the repair shop. From 4:40pm to 8:34pm, he intermittently sent and received texts that apparently indicated no problem. Then on the morning of July 17, at 2:53am, he turned the phone back on and received a text apparently sent the night before. And thatís all we know.

Now Iíll speculate. Could it be that when Matt called the repair shop late Tuesday afternoon, he had no firm plan for the next day, but still hoped the car was done already or would be done in the morning? (Do we know what they told him? Do we know whether any of his texts that evening indicated when he thought the car would be ready?)

If they said it would be done on the 18th, maybe it was only then that he made a plan for the 17th. If he was near the Mammoth Lodge, could he have then made an arrangement with someone such as a Mammoth employee to get an early ride to a trailhead? I wonder where he had dinner on the 16th Ė whether he cooked it for himself or went out to eat, and whether he might have spoken with anyone about his plans.

Then, Iím guessing he finished texting and went to sleep. We donít know whether he got up at 2:53am to start going somewhere, or if he just turned on his phone for some reason and then went back to sleep for a while before taking a shuttle. (His turning the phone on at that hour was unusual for him, but as Iíve argued, maybe not quite as unusual as it seems. He could have turned the phone on in the middle of the night on lots of days, and unless he received a text or voicemail, weíd never know.)

In terms of destinations, maybe the climb Matt wanted to do in Yosemite was Unicorn peak or some dome in Tuolumne, and therefore he had already done it by the 16th. (Or maybe Lyell, which he apparently did not do before the 16th.) As for the other climb, maybe it was Banner or Ritter, but based on summit registers, it doesnít look like he did either on Sunday or Monday. Maybe, because the car place kept putting him off, he didnít know how long heíd be in Mammoth so climbing Banner/Ritter on a particular day was less urgent? After talking with the repair shop on Tuesday, maybe Matt decided to do Banner or Ritter on Wednesday. Or he could have made some other plan. But whatever plan he had, his gear indicates that it involved snow, which would be compatible with Banner/Ritter as well as with a few other places.

It would be interesting to know if Matt had any more computer sessions on the 16th and what he looked at -- that might change the above scenario. It would also be great if the detective can get access to Mattís Hotmail account and more details from his phone records.
zBrown

Ice climber
Brujo de La Playa
Oct 9, 2013 - 06:26pm PT
Perhaps... but who knows...

Correcto.

I should have said in my opinion. Nobody knows this stuff, but reading about all the searching that's been done and looking at history of similar events, I'll stay with my opinion.

I'm in no way attempting to discourage folks from continuing to look.

jeg

Social climber
center valley,Pa
Oct 9, 2013 - 08:41pm PT
La Hiker....
I spoke to the guy who was talking with Matt in the bus on the way to Tuolomne on the 15th. Matt told him he was planning on climbing some domes but didn't say which one. The guy also asked Matt if he wanted to climb something bigger things together one day and Matt said no he didn't have time, he was waiting on his car and was planning on leaving.

Also, I believe I recall the car shop saying they told Matt the car would be done on the 17th but then called him back after the machanic said it would take another day.
Supermama

Social climber
pa
Oct 9, 2013 - 08:45pm PT
Kensih...thank you...the last thing I want to happen is for someone to get hurt.

La Hiker...Yes...we definitely need the Hotmail account to be checked. Tiffany is working on this with the Pa detective. Without it we are just speculating. Thanks for the summary of events. It keeps us all thinking...
pacarockhound

Social climber
Escondido CA
Oct 10, 2013 - 02:36am PT
Thanks LA Hiker for summarizing and updating. This jumped out at me:

I wonder where he had dinner on the 16th Ė whether he cooked it for himself or went out to eat, and whether he might have spoken with anyone about his plans.


I am wondering if he ate at Thai restaurant he had circled on his map? Could someone who lives in Mammoth check with workers there to see if someone remembers serving him on the 16th and if they had a conversation?
LAhiker

Social climber
Los Angeles
Oct 10, 2013 - 08:32pm PT
Jill said:
I spoke to the guy who was talking with Matt in the bus on the way to Tuolomne on the 15th. Matt told him he was planning on climbing some domes but didn't say which one. The guy also asked Matt if he wanted to climb something bigger things together one day and Matt said no he didn't have time, he was waiting on his car and was planning on leaving.

Also, I believe I recall the car shop saying they told Matt the car would be done on the 17th but then called him back after the machanic said it would take another day.

Thanks for the info. Itís starting to sound like Matt was completely ready to leave Mammoth, and that his plans for Wednesday the 17th may have been decided at the last minute (after his call to the repair shop late Tuesday afternoon), though they may have involved an objective that he had wanted to go to for a while.

For me, this puts a little more emphasis on what Matt did on Tuesday the 16th after that call, on places where he might have spoken to people, and even on his texts that evening, though what he did earlier in the day is still relevant. Pacarockhound, while I agree that the Thai restaurant is definitely one place where we might want to talk with the staff and see if Matt had become a regular, if I were planning a big hike/climb, Iíd probably eat lightly and turn in at a reasonable hour. Also, note that though Matt ate there early in his visit to Mammoth, he had had two weeks to find other favorite places. Jill, do you happen to know whether Matt cooked most of his meals on a camp stove, or whether he tended to eat out? If he ate out, do you have any sense of whether he had some favorite places?

Because Matt apparently used the NewBelgium beer locator search in his late-morning computer session on the 16th, one possible clue to where he went later that day might be places that serve NewBelgium beer. (Caveats: It was unclear to me whether he used the locator Tiffany mentions to look in Mammoth Lakes or Colorado. Also, unless he had just been turned on to the beer, he probably had figured out the Mammoth Lakes outlets already.)

Of the places that serve the beer on tap, thereís a cluster in the center of town, including one right near the library at Giovanniís Pizzaria. The Good Life Cafť serves Mexican food and appears to be closest to the campground. Others include Rafters Restaurant and Lounge, CJís Grill, Country Liquor and Deli, and Grumpyís, Then there's one more towards Mammoth Mountain, which is the area we think Matt was in when he called the repair shop (Clocktower Cellar Pub, which is mostly a whiskey bar, located in basement of the Alpenhof Lodge hotel. Worth stopping by, but doesnít sound like Mattís style to me). Then there are also a lot of places that sell the beer to go, in bottles. Jill, do you happen to know whether Matt liked to sit in pubs or restaurants sipping beer, or whether he preferred to buy the beer in bottles and keep it on hand to celebrate after climbs?

Of course, this assumes he even looked up places serving or selling the beer in Mammoth, but maybe it's one clue to figuring out where he might have spoken to people on the evening of the 16th...
kenish

Gym climber
Orange County, CA
Oct 10, 2013 - 09:07pm PT
It was unclear to me whether he used the locator Tiffany mentions to look in Mammoth Lakes or Colorado.

The library history appeared that Matt made a "purchase" through NewBelgium's website. I mentioned earlier NB does brewery tours via advance reservation online. Maybe he was planning to do the tour when he got to Colorado. I browsed NB's website. The reservation page requires entering name, email address, etc. NB may have record of Matt's tour reservation even though he was a no-show. They're in Ft. Collins- one of Matt's friends can probably project the date he planned to be in that area.

If Matt purchased something, it should show up in his credit card records. A purchase requires setting up an account, so NB should have record of that, too.
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