Missing friend in Mammoth Lakes area

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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 didn’t 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, wouldn’t he have done searches regarding his destination, just to see if there was something new? From Tiffany’s report about that first internet session, it sounds like Matt was more focused on heading on to Colorado.

(I don’t 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. It’s 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
I’ve 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 – 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 – we don’t know.
Monday –got 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 don’t know yet if there were other sessions), though he appears to be looking at sites of interest to him, it doesn’t 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 that’s all we know.

Now I’ll 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 – whether he cooked it for himself or went out to eat, and whether he might have spoken with anyone about his plans.

Then, I’m guessing he finished texting and went to sleep. We don’t 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 I’ve 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, we’d 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 doesn’t look like he did either on Sunday or Monday. Maybe, because the car place kept putting him off, he didn’t know how long he’d 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 Matt’s 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 – 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. It’s 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, I’d 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, there’s a cluster in the center of town, including one right near the library at Giovanni’s Pizzaria. The Good Life Café serves Mexican food and appears to be closest to the campground. Others include Rafters Restaurant and Lounge, CJ’s Grill, Country Liquor and Deli, and Grumpy’s, 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 doesn’t sound like Matt’s 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.
tdg119

Social climber
Northampton, PA
Oct 10, 2013 - 09:19pm PT
I haven't found a second library session and doubt I will.

I'll be quite honest - out of the logs it bothers me that he checked on the Palisades (I thought it and brushed it off but SplitPants caught it too). The difficult thing about the logs is it's hard, for me anyways, to tell what was actually searched for vs what just lies on a page and caught his eye.

So, checking on Palisades conditions and then the corresponding posts could be something. He had Palisades maps and such in his stuff; but again it's something he did with John.

I double checked for weather to no avail. Some things I hadn't originally mentioned, I think, was him checking out the Gunks site, possible stock he owns, and Australian and Papua New Guinea sites (where he was in Peace Corps).

In relation to the hammertoe stuff, I *think* his search term was actually yellow toe joints. Jeg said in an email that Matt had cut this knee on a climb the previous week too, but I don't know that it was bothering him.

That's all I got. Touched base w detective Toronzi and still awaiting phone records. He thinks email would be a dead end and since Matt appeared to be using his school email, I'm inclined to agree at this point.
Gene

climber
Oct 10, 2013 - 10:03pm PT
… and Papua New Guinea sites (where he was in Peace Corps).

Matt’s death is now even more poignant to me because I am also a former PCV, a life-long lover of the Ritter Range, and have spent time in New Guinea. Where did he serve? What did he do?

The fact that Matt was a PCV in New Guinea tells me one thing. If Matt was like any of the PCVs I have known, the probability that he was duped by someone with evil intent approaches nil. One thing you develop in the PC is a finely tuned BS filter. By necessity you become a good and quick judge of the intent of others. You get post-PhD level, real-time experience in situational awareness regarding people and situations. It’s part of the job.

I pray that Matt’s remains in the Sierra will be found. Given the date on the calendar, it won’t be this year. It’s time to search for peace and acceptance of what has happened.

God bless you all.

g
Cragman

Trad climber
June Lake, California....via the Damascus Road
Oct 10, 2013 - 11:08pm PT
+1 Gene....thanks, my friend.

Best,
Dean
zBrown

Ice climber
Brujo de La Playa
Oct 10, 2013 - 11:15pm PT
Where, in the possible routes Matt might have been on, are the areas where a rock slide could have completely covered him?






http://www.traditionalmountaineering.org/News_PeterStarr.htm

http://climber.org/reports/2003/1150.html

http://www.climber.org/reports/2003/1205.html

Dave Daly, who learned about Starr while reading Missing in the Minarets, conceived the idea for the memorial and led the climb. Waczairg persuaded the Stanford Alumni Association to pay for the plaque. It is located about 300 feet below the summit, in direct view of the ledge where Norman Clyde discovered Starr’s body in 1933. Although the climbers visited Starr’s gravesite, Waczairg says they chose a different, more visible spot to place the plaque—at a junction partway up the mountain, where several routes to the top diverge. “Most people who climb the mountain will go directly past the plaque,” he explains.

Waczairg says the climbing was strenuous, dangerous and unthinkable without a safety rope. It gave him new respect for Starr’s ability. “I’ve done a lot of climbing—I’ve never seen a mountain that was so sheer on all four sides. If you fall, you die,” he says. “I would have rated it about a 5.7.” Anything over 5.0 is considered technical climbing, virtually always performed with a rope and another climber. Recalling that Starr had not only climbed with no rope but in tennis shoes, Waczairg says reverently, “The guy was out of his mind.

“He almost made it,” he adds. “It would have been an amazing climb—to this day, nobody has finished it.”

http://www.stanfordalumni.org/news/magazine/2003/novdec/features/plaque.html





Quote Here
kenish

Gym climber
Orange County, CA
Oct 10, 2013 - 11:22pm PT
He thinks email would be a dead end and since Matt appeared to be using his school email, I'm inclined to agree at this point.

The school district should have all of Matt's emails...still on their email server, in Matt's inbox, or archived. Given the school's closeness to you, Matt, and the situation, I would think they'd be pretty willing to provide access to his account. True, it probably won't directly find Matt but may have clues. It also may lead to friends, business relationships, bank accounts you didn't know about. If nothing else, some of the email could be "digital mementos" of Matt. I've saved some emails from a friend who passed tragically as a reminder of who he was.
The user formerly known as stzzo

climber
Sneaking up behind you
Oct 10, 2013 - 11:44pm PT
The difficult thing about the logs is it's hard, for me anyways, to tell what was actually searched for vs what just lies on a page and caught his eye.

I'd be happy to look over the logs to see if I can pull out some details. Sending you a PM.
LAhiker

Social climber
Los Angeles
Oct 11, 2013 - 02:27am PT
Tiffany said:
I'll be quite honest - out of the logs it bothers me that he checked on the Palisades (I thought it and brushed it off but SplitPants caught it too). The difficult thing about the logs is it's hard, for me anyways, to tell what was actually searched for vs what just lies on a page and caught his eye.

So, checking on Palisades conditions and then the corresponding posts could be something. He had Palisades maps and such in his stuff; but again it's something he did with John.

Hi Tiffany, did Matt check on the Palisades beyond checking that U Notch/V Notch thread?

If Matt went onto SummitPost’s California forum on July 16th, the “Recent U and V notch conditions – end of July” post would have been at or near the top. Since Matt had recently been to V notch (on July 6th) and had posted about conditions there on July 8th, mightn’t he have clicked on the post in case he had something to contribute?

I remember that you said it looked like Matt emailed someone on that thread. It looks like three people posted on the thread; the posts of one of them, 3Deserts, have apparently been removed because he’s been banned for trolling or something like that. The other two are subhrojyoti and naren, who sound like they’re climbing partners but I’m not sure. Subhrojyoti asks for info re conditions and Naren asks for pictures from 3Deserts’ trip. I doubt that Matt emailed 3Deserts, though of course it's possible because 3D's posts were still there at the time.

Maybe Matt emailed Subhrojyoti with more info? He couldn’t have planned to go there again on the 17th with Subhrojyoti, because Subhrojyoti wasn’t going there until late July. Maybe you could contact Subhrojyoti, explain the situation, and ask whether Matt contacted him??

While there was snow at V and U notch, and it’s not impossible that Matt went there on the 17th, this seems very unlikely to me because (a) Matt tended not to repeat climbs, (b) he would have had to get a long ride -- the Palisades are ~70 miles from Mammoth and (c) it looks like he might not have decided what to do on the 17th until after his late-afternoon calls to the repair shop, which would mean he would have had to lined up that long ride really fast.

Or am I missing something here – did Matt check conditions in the Palisades more extensively than this, or is something else making you uneasy about this?
zBrown

Ice climber
Brujo de La Playa
Oct 11, 2013 - 10:59am PT
I hadn't seen this before re: Steve Fossett. Gives a good pictorial of what searchers are up against.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/rockwellb/sets/72157607737959209/
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