Missing friend in Mammoth Lakes area

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Supermama

Social climber
pa
Oct 11, 2013 - 04:11pm PT
I was searching the net for the clues we had about Matt's disappearance and this is what came up. The last web address is the link to the sight. It is from a hiking group from Reno. They hiked right after Matt disappeared. I thought the gear required matched that of Matt's. See what you all think.

Clyde Variation route description:

http://www.summitpost.org/clyde-variation/155876

At the end of the day, it was a great, if not epic trip! I recommend it. Yes, you do need helmet, ice axe, and crampons the glacier is ice (no amount of wishful thinking will get your boots that you bought at REI to grip the high angle ice/snow if you slip you are taking a long, fast ride into a boulder, or over a cliff) and there is rock falling all over the place up there all of the time.

http://www.everytrail.com/view_trip.php?trip_id=2263769
HighTraverse

Trad climber
Bay Area
Oct 11, 2013 - 06:42pm PT
From the Ritter climb report linked by Supermama above

This is a strange year we are in a drought now (second year), which has melted a lot of snow away from a large boulder in the SE col creating a steep and dangerous culvert.
I am guessing that such a berghschrund/crevasse/moat could have caught Matt.
Cragman found a big one somewhat to the south and much lower, I believe at the base of the route this group climbed.
There are plenty of them up there. Approaching any of them to look for Matt without a well trained and equipped team is a Very Bad Idea.

Regarding the idea that Matt would have gone to the Palisades.
The Palisades are certainly a spectacular mountaineering destination and very appealing.

However, it is extremely unlikely that Matt went there.
The trailhead is at least 2 hours south of Mammoth, the hike in to any serious snow/ice is at least 2 more hours, even for Matt. Then at least 2 hours to climb anything worth the trip.
And then reverse the process.
He would have to find a partner and/or ride. No public transit would get him there
It's a 12 hour day MINIMUM even if he were walking Really Fast.
And he most certainly planned on picking up his car the next morning.

There was a tragic death in the Tetons early this summer. A client was some distance from his guide, took a slide down a moderate slope and slid into a moat at the bottom of the snowfield. The moat fed a significant stream beneath the snowfield. Even though he was extricated alive and flown out by helicopter, he died (presumably of hypothermia) in the hospital.
The report by Grand Teton Search and Rescue is here.
http://tetonclimbingsar.blogspot.com/2013_06_01_archive.html
See the "Garnet Canyon Fatality" 1/2 way down the page. Photos 2, 3 & 4 show the moat and the SAR team.

This route is traveled by dozens of people daily. I climbed this snowfield last summer and ascended/descended within a few feet of the moat.
crankster

Trad climber
South Lake Tahoe, CA
Oct 11, 2013 - 07:08pm PT
I'm repeating myself, but what the heck....Matt had been to the Palisades to climb the V-Notch Couloir, so he new the logistics. Really no chance he went there solo without a car when he's anxious to get his car and head to Colorado.

Mammoth has beautiful surroundings, but the "town" isn't really a town, there's no center, it's a place you need a car or at least a bike. Shady Rest Campground would get old REALLY fast. Getting to the Agnew Meadow trailhead for approaches to the Minarets and Mt. Ritter isn't that easy without a car, but it is the main traffic path & would be relatively easy to hitch a ride. That's the most likely place Matt headed. He had not previously climbed Mt Ritter, the highest peak in the area. Hard to argue he went elsewhere.
T H

Boulder climber
extraordinaire
Oct 11, 2013 - 10:31pm PT
"Mathew was mauled by a large animal who dragged his body off of a pathway and into a ravine-esq area.
I had some time to hike/ look at some remote boulders today, and I remembered that post. The local bears would not qualify IMO, but Mountain Lions have been seen/ videoed in and around town, and seem to have the moxie to just outright attack humans.
LAhiker

Social climber
Los Angeles
Oct 11, 2013 - 11:10pm PT
Maverick01/Peter, Ive been meaning to tell you that I appreciate that youre considering searching some more, weather permitting. If you do end up searching, I hope youll be careful. I realize that the search window for this fall is rapidly closing.

I do agree with Kenishs and others' concerns that organizing search parties among people who dont know each other can expose the searchers to danger and the organizer to liability. But perhaps if preexisting teams of technically skilled people are searching in the area, they can coordinate with each other.
zBrown

Ice climber
Brujo de La Playa
Oct 14, 2013 - 07:58am PT

Lost in the wilderness: 72-year-old man survives 19 days, eating lizards, squirrels

http://www.cnn.com/2013/10/14/us/california-missing-man/
sharperblue

Mountain climber
San Francisco, California
Oct 21, 2013 - 09:43pm PT
Just a throw-away comment: we ran up Ritter on Saturday and came down the SE Glacier (as has been mentioned, extremely icy and unusual conditions) - found a green ball cap 2/3 way down in a bit of an unusual location, with a stone very intentionally placed on it to keep it from blowing away. 'Canyonlands Half Marathon' logo. Likely from SAR crew, but the weathering on it seemed just about perfect to have been sitting in the open for a few three months. Took a GPS spot and left it.
Cragman

Trad climber
June Lake, California....via the Damascus Road
Oct 22, 2013 - 02:47am PT
sharperblue...potentially a significant find, as Matthew was a runner.
tdg119

Social climber
Northampton, PA
Oct 22, 2013 - 05:53am PT
sharperblue - I just checked out the website for the Half Marathon listed on that cap. Unfortunately, it's a race held in March - Matt would be home in PA in March. Just to confirm, I searched all the race results and found his name. Hat must belong to someone else.

http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/nazareth/index.ssf/2013/10/post_34.html
OutdoorGal

Social climber
Lehigh Valley, PA
Oct 22, 2013 - 07:27am PT
Tiffany/Ron, I saw the photo on FB, and there is no year shown on the hat. Could Matt have run this in a previous year--say, during a school spring break? Or has he never traveled out west during that time of year?
LAhiker

Social climber
Los Angeles
Oct 22, 2013 - 08:04am PT
Sharperblue, thanks for reporting this. Though it sounds like it's probably not Matt's hat, it might set people's minds at ease if we knew whose hat it is.

For this reason, have you thought of posting a picture of the hat on the SummitPost California board or similar place? I mean, people usually do that when they find a whole abandoned campsite, but here there would be a particular reason.

It sounds like conditions up near the glacier were nasty. Just out of curiosity, how were conditions further down, near the trailhead?
kenish

Gym climber
Orange County, CA
Oct 22, 2013 - 09:59am PT
Just to confirm, I searched all the race results and found his name. Hat must belong to someone else.

@tdg- Did you mean you could *not* find Matt's name?

Annual events often change color of apparel each year. If the marathon does that, an organizer should know the year they did green caps. Or, you may already know that Matt never went to that event.
LAhiker

Social climber
Los Angeles
Oct 22, 2013 - 10:38am PT
Kenish, it looks like the Moab Half Marathon people sell a more recent version of the cap in their online store -- the cap that was found is similar to the yellow one but is constructed somewhat differently:

http://www.moabhalfmarathon.com/product.cfm?id=DFA57217-3048-7A03-3935CD71997C5D7E

If the marathon has been selling such gear for years, the owner of the cap need not even have run in the half marathon. But I doubt that a runner would wear the cap of a marathon they hadn't run in (unless they had some other reason, such as supporting the Boston Marathon). And I've never seen pictures of Matt in that cap. So I doubt it was his.
tdg119

Social climber
Northampton, PA
Oct 22, 2013 - 10:54am PT
Sorry, yes I meant I did NOT find Matt's name in any of the race results and I searched all the years they had available on the website which goes quite a few years back.
sharperblue

Mountain climber
San Francisco, California
Oct 22, 2013 - 01:43pm PT
Well, I wouldn't call the glacier nasty - just icy - as far as Sierra goes, it was rather fun! Even the North face route above the saddle is solid water ice though, and quite broad - pretty dangerous without a technical tool, but still great fun. (There is a spectacular mixed climb formed up lower down, too; a miniature Canadian climb)

Approach is perfectly clear all the way up, no snow. A scattered remnant in the shade on the northern aspects around the lakes, otherwise ideal Autumn conditions

And yes: teh hat is on the FaceBook page, but i'll post it over on Summitpost as well
pacarockhound

Social climber
Escondido CA
Oct 22, 2013 - 07:03pm PT

I suppose there is the possibility that Matt wore a hat that someone gave him. He might have lost his, blown away, etc. If not, it would be good to know who it does belong to.

Sharperblue - thanks for sharing your thoughts on hiking conditions.

Any news about Matt's eating habits and possible places he ate around July 16th? and possible people he spoke to about his plans....?
HighTraverse

Trad climber
Bay Area
Oct 24, 2013 - 04:58pm PT
sharperblue
Can you be more specific about your actual route on approach, climbing, and your return route after the SE Glacier?
maverick01

climber
Oct 24, 2013 - 05:23pm PT

Just to update everyone involved,

Would like to say that I am sorry to the family, but I decided
to call off our search due to the weather and transportation
issues to and from the trailhead. With the snow and icy conditions
it would have made the search much riskier, also locating any
evidence would have been much more difficult to see/find.
Appreciated everyone's input for and against our search.
Our group of approx 10, and possibly more by next year will
conduct a search in the Minarets if nothing is found by then.
tdg119

Social climber
Northampton, PA
Oct 28, 2013 - 07:16am PT
Thank you for the update Maverick - we were wondering.

I'm glad you decided to play it safe.

I think it's safe to say that all efforts will just need to wait until spring.

I'm going to put forth some effort to go through Matt's gear that was brought back from Mammoth if my parents are OK with that. It's as much for my own peace of mind than out of expectation of finding anything.

Thank you again to everyone who's stuck by us throughout everything.
T H

Boulder climber
extraordinaire
Oct 28, 2013 - 09:27pm PT
Thank you again to everyone who's stuck by us throughout everything.
^^Class act, but I will always wonder why an official search was not initiated sooner (with the info they had at the time). Why let the the trail go cold in those critical first days? Interviews of hikers, and shuttle drivers better early etc.
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