Missing friend in Mammoth Lakes area

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SplitPants

Social climber
LA
Jun 29, 2014 - 12:10pm PT
Dean,
Glad to hear you and all the others are still searching. We will be up later in July.

We wish you and everyone success and safety out there.

Brooke
Cragman

Trad climber
June Lake, California....via the Damascus Road
Jun 29, 2014 - 12:25pm PT
Thanks, Brooke....Great to hear from you!

Be sure to let me know when you guys are on your way up!

Best,
D
JNCalif

Social climber
Hoboken, NJ by way of Orange County, CA
Jun 29, 2014 - 02:24pm PT
Hoping and praying that answers will be found and Matt's family will have closure. Continually inspired by the climbing community coming together to find Matt. Will be watching for updates.
Cragman

Trad climber
June Lake, California....via the Damascus Road
Jun 29, 2014 - 06:53pm PT
Should be into this theater by noon tomorrow...basecamp at Iceberg's outlet.

Minarets and glacier from Lake Ediza
Minarets and glacier from Lake Ediza
Credit: Cragman
rottingjohnny

Sport climber
mammoth lakes ca
Jun 29, 2014 - 07:29pm PT
Cragman...Theater...? that does look like IMAX..? rj
HighTraverse

Trad climber
Bay Area
Jun 29, 2014 - 07:41pm PT
Cragman
I believe the caption on the pic is misleading. Isn't that a shot you took last summer on your first search foray?
Cragman

Trad climber
June Lake, California....via the Damascus Road
Jun 29, 2014 - 07:46pm PT
Thanks, High Traverse...corrected.
Footloose

Trad climber
Lake Tahoe
Jun 29, 2014 - 07:52pm PT
Hey is anyone recording gps tracks on this search and area? I'm recalling all my many sets of tracks in my areas of climbing, running, mountaineering and such and imagine such systematic record-keeping might be useful. Also, I'll be heading down probably in July to check out Clyde Minaret, etc.. Early intentions are likely to include one of the 4th class approaches to summit and then other interesting stuff. Does anyone know if these have been systematically checked yet? I'm sure to have my GPS "My Tracks" app with me and I could post up my tracks if useful to anyone. Good luck.
Cragman

Trad climber
June Lake, California....via the Damascus Road
Jun 29, 2014 - 08:06pm PT
Footloose....thanks for your input. The reality is that what we are looking for will almost literally have to be stepped on to find. It's actually quite possible that some have walked past what we hope to find already.

It will literally be a stroke of luck that anything is found. It's simply too hard at this stage to 'eliminate' an area, by saying that it has already been covered.

I hope that makes sense.

Cheers,
DR
pacarockhound

Social climber
Escondido CA
Jun 29, 2014 - 10:44pm PT
Dean, re your comment about keeping Mike Herdman info off of this thread. I understand entirely, and will leave it at that.
I could not, however, find any forums/threads relating to Mike Herdman.
Are there any? I am wanting to know what the supertopo hikers' thoughts are.

My best to Tiffany and family!
tdg119

Social climber
Northampton, PA
Jun 30, 2014 - 11:21am PT
Good afternoon everyone.

My dad has been keeping a trail journal and yes, we've been recording his GPS coords as well. I'm not so sure he'd want his real-time GPS coords out there, but I'm happy to share his previous coords to date. In addition, you can view them on this SPOT Adventure Map.

Lastly, one of the volunteers from last year had put together this Google Site with basically all of the information.
HighTraverse

Trad climber
Bay Area
Jun 30, 2014 - 01:02pm PT
That's an excellent website. I've just reviewed some of it to refresh my memory:
Left car at camp
No helmet
Mountaineering boots
One ice axe
Crampons, 10 years old. "Modern" crampons left behind.
Tent, sleeping bag, heavy jacket etc left behind.
Matt "always" wore his helmet when rock climbing or in dangerously loose terrain.
He often did "big days" in trail shoes.
Matt had already been into the Minarets and done at least one climb recently. A non-trivial but not technically difficult route on the Clyde Minaret.

Other info:
The shuttle bus from the Mammoth Ski resort to the Minarets trailheads doesn't start until 7:00 AM
It's a 5 mile walk from the CG to the shuttle bus. Over an hour in mountain boots.

My current observations from that info:
-To get to any technical snow and ice in July would be a very long hike from the campground, at least 10 miles. Then the climb and return. Matt knew this.

-To get 5 miles from Shady Rest CG to the shuttle bus would require a dawn start and would consume a lot of energy with a pack.

-He could walk the 5 miles to the 7:00 shuttle.

-He could have used "dial a ride" which starts at 8:00AM to get to the shuttle. That plus the Reds Meadow shuttle would get him to the trailhead not earlier than 9:30. A late start for a big day.

-It seems to me most likely he would catch a ride to the Agnew or Reds Meadow trailhead, possibly arranged in advance. He could easily catch the last shuttle back from the trailhead at 7:55 PM.

-From the end of the shuttle bus to Cecile Lake at the base of South Notch is 6 miles.

-To go to Lake Ediza (base of Ritter) he could go via Cecile Lake and Iceberg Lake or via Agnew Meadow and Lake Ediza. From Agnew Meadows is easier and about the same trail distance.

-Matt would likely not have taken his mountain boots or his ice axe if he had only planned to hike on the east side of the Minarets. There was minimal snow along that route. By midday it would have been easy travel in trail shoes.

-There are few 5th class routes in the main section of the Minarets where Matt would be likely to venture without helmet. They are steep peaks with much loose rock.

-Last summer was a low snow year (not nearly as low as this year is turning out).

-There are several excellent 2d/3d/4th class routes on Ritter, Adams Minaret, and others south of South Notch.
Many of them have low rockfall potential. (SW shoulder of Adams for example).

-He would likely have taken crampons and ice axe for the South Notch crossing from the east to west side. It can be icy and contemporaneous photos show some moats. He would have seen or crossed this area when he climbed the Clyde earlier.

-Mountaineering boots and ice axe imply he intended something like South Notch. I haven't used any other crossings so I can't speak for that.

-With just ice axe and crampons Matt would have been comfortable on the SE Gully of Ritter.
Possibly also the exposed traverse between Clyde and Ritter but see my next note.

-Cragman and Flanders had a look at that traverse about a month after Matt vanished. It had significant and very dangerous moats and crevasses. They reached a point traveling South from the slopes above Iceberg where they didn't want to continue. This is the region I believe they're going into again today.

-I crossed that traverse in early season on deep snow which obscured most of the danger. About half way, above Iceberg Lake I was sorry I was out there. Frightened even. Even with deep, firm snow it's dangerous. On ice......

-If Matt fell into one of those moats he may not be found for many years.

-if Matt fell on the traverse and didn't land in a moat, he could have slid and bounced all the way to Iceberg Lake. If so, there would likely be some of his clothing or gear left in the path. (sorry to be so graphic)

-Amphitheater Lake, in the rockbound basin between Clyde and Adams Minarets, Iceberg and Cecile lakes are all steep sided, cold and deep. With pack, crampons and boots Matt would have little chance to survive a fall or slide into one of them. It's unlikely they can ever be searched.

I'll go back over what we already know and try to put some more thoughts together in the next day or two.

question: What is the chance Matt rented a bicycle for the day to get to the trailhead?

EDIT:
I didn't mean to imply Matt would have trouble on South Notch. I was pointing out the extensive presence of moats at the time. He almost certainly would have cruised South Notch if he'd gone that way to satisfying objectives.
Sewellymon

climber
.....in a single wide......
Jun 30, 2014 - 01:53pm PT
Dean just texted me the below photo. Anybody recognize this as Matt's canteen? He found it on a cliff face that is the south side of the nasty gully that drains into the glacier he searched last year...

Credit: Sewellymon

Credit: Sewellymon

Dean and Bob in the high country this afternoon....

Credit: Sewellymon
crankster

Trad climber
Jun 30, 2014 - 03:29pm PT
His climbing partners, Jill & John, should be able to confirm if he was using this in the week prior to his disappearance.
Ron Anderson

Trad climber
Relic MilkEye and grandpoobah of HBRKRNH
Jun 30, 2014 - 04:38pm PT
Seems like a good find there- about right for the amount of fading by the elements..
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Jun 30, 2014 - 04:50pm PT
That knife looks like it has been out there for more than a year, a lot more.
CA.Timothy

climber
California
Jun 30, 2014 - 05:53pm PT
"The shuttle bus from the Mammoth Ski resort to the Minarets trailheads doesn't start until 7:00 AM
It's a 5 mile walk from the CG to the shuttle bus. Over an hour in mountain boots.

My current observations from that info:
-To get to any technical snow and ice in July would be a very long hike from the campground, at least 10 miles. Then the climb and return. Matt knew this.

-To get 5 miles from Shady Rest CG to the shuttle bus would require a dawn start and would consume a lot of energy with a pack.

-He could walk the 5 miles to the 7:00 shuttle.

-He could have used "dial a ride" which starts at 8:00AM to get to the shuttle. That plus the Reds Meadow shuttle would get him to the trailhead not earlier than 9:30. A late start for a big day."

High Traverse, I can clarify some confusion with the shuttle. The first Reds Meadow bus of the day starts off at the Village at about 7:15. It picks up mountain employees and sometimes a random NPS or FS person at the Village. It gets to main lodge about 7:30. It is at Agnew by 7:50, the Postpile by 8:00, and Reds Meadow by 8:10.

I met Matthew on that first bus of the day at the Village at 7:15 AM about 4 days prior to his disappearance. He knew that he could catch the first bus at the village at that time.

It is only 1.3 miles from Shady Rest to the Village. Not that the time difference is huge, but if Matthew took the bus that day, he was almost certainly on the trail by 8 AM.
T H

Boulder climber
extraordinaire
Jun 30, 2014 - 10:34pm PT

(taken today)
overwatch

climber
Jul 1, 2014 - 07:09am PT
Knife? Looks like a chalk brush

Edit:
I see it now...that thing looks fairly old
HighTraverse

Trad climber
Bay Area
Jul 1, 2014 - 12:15pm PT
CA Timothy.
Thank you very much for the important clarification. I found it quite difficult to sort out the timetables that are posted online. It was also not clear to me where the Mammoth Shuttle starts.

I met Matthew on that first bus of the day at the Village at 7:15 AM about 4 days prior to his disappearance. He knew that he could catch the first bus at the village at that time.
This is new information to me. I must have missed it in my review of known facts.

BIOTCH
thanks for the current photo. That shows very sparse snow cover for the East side of the Minarets at this time of year.
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