Missing friend in Mammoth Lakes area

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LAhiker

Social climber
Los Angeles
Jul 16, 2014 - 03:20pm PT
I'm glad there have been some leads! While we're waiting for more info re the ice axe handle, here's a compilation of info and some questions re the Minarets.*

According to SplitPants's very helpful timeline, Matt climbed Riegelhuth Minaret on 7/8/13 and Clyde Minaret on 7/11/13 (this one confirmed by his signature in the summit register). Given that Matt tended not to repeat climbs, I suspect that neither of those Minarets was his objective on 7/17/13.

There has been some discussion on this thread about what Minarets might fit with Matt's gear -- the ice axe/crampons and the absence of his helmet. In this post, HighTraverse says the following:
South Notch itself, Kehrlein and Starr can all be done "safely" sans helmet. With axe and crampons, chance of taking a big fall on South Notch is very small. There are "walkup" class 3-4 routes with no snow on Starr, Adams and Kehrlein that also wouldn't turn Matt back if he had no helmet.

HighTraverse also comments on a report by someone climbed the NW route on Kehrlein (among many other things) in mid-August of last summer, though the guy wasn't looking for Matt.

Harv Galic posted this slightly alarming account of climbing to Starr Minaret a little later in the summer, on July 31, 2013 -- he found the South Notch difficult to negotiate and reports a little flood on the snowfield. (Fits with what Ron Anderson said about the Minarets being dicey.)

I don't think it's known whether Matt climbed Michael Minaret, but the summary site reports that Teddy found that his signature was not in the register at the plaque honoring Walter "Pete" Starr. I gather that the plaque is some ways from Starr's gravesite, leading HighTraverse to ask
What's the chance he went to NW face of Michael Minaret to look for Peter Starr's resting place?

Would Matt's lack of a helmet (coupled with his tendency to wear one when appropriate) have made it unlikely that he attempted to look for Pete Starr's grave on 7/17/13, or is that still a possibility?

Harv Galic's report mentions that there was no summit register on Starr Minaret. Does anyone happen to know whether there are registers on Kehrlein or Adams Minaret, and whether those were checked last year? Are there other Minarets or routes up them that might fit with Matt's gear?

I gather that the two main routes to the Minarets are from Agnew Meadows and from Devil's Postpile. (So would a person going to the Minarets and taking the shuttle get out at one of those two stops?) If Matt's destination was the South Notch, is one of these routes more likely than the other? (Are there other areas within the Minarets besides the South Notch that would require an ice axe and crampons?)


*I'm focusing on the Minarets proper despite HighTraverse's interesting point that people sometimes refer to the Minarets, Ritter, & Banner as "the Minarets." At least in Matt's conversations with the Morales family, it sounds to me as if he referred to these locations separately; maybe Jill and John can clarify whether he was likely to lump them.
John Duffield

Mountain climber
New York
Jul 16, 2014 - 03:42pm PT
ice axe in minarets
ice axe in minarets
Credit: John Duffield

If it's this one, it's not a petzle quark
Cragman

Trad climber
June Lake, California....via the Damascus Road
Jul 16, 2014 - 03:51pm PT
John Duffield, where did you take that photo?
John Duffield

Mountain climber
New York
Jul 16, 2014 - 04:30pm PT
My friends took the pic on Rock Route last summer, about a week or so after Matthew Greene went missing, and the handle looked like it had been there for much longer.
Cragman

Trad climber
June Lake, California....via the Damascus Road
Jul 16, 2014 - 04:35pm PT
Ok, John....thanks.
crankster

Trad climber
Jul 16, 2014 - 05:54pm PT
Nice points, LAhiker. I've been looking through Secor trying to put myself in Matt's place. I'm leaning towards Ken or Michael Minaret.

Credit: crankster
CA.Timothy

climber
California
Jul 16, 2014 - 07:10pm PT
The missing helmet detail is so weird. Is Matt the kind of cautious where he would decide not to do a climb if he realized he had forgotten his helmet? Why would he head into that loose stuff on Michael if wearing a helmet was his MO?

EDIT

I looked at one of the sites made for matt and answered my own question I guess.

Quote from climbing friends Jill & John "I asked my husband "Would Matt climb easy 5 class rock without a helmet? ' This was his response...Possibly. But the decision to wear the helmet would be more a function of the nature of the terrain he planned to visit, the potential for rock or ice fall, the potential of other people climbing above, etc. He might wear a helmet on a less technical climb with poor rock quality and choose not wear a helmet on a harder climb with clean rock. From what I saw in the Minarets, there aren't too many places I would be comfortable without a helmet. That's one of the things that's never made sense to me with this whole thing; why he wouldn't have a helmet in that area."
Per Jill "From what i observed from Matt if he needed a helmet for a climb and forgot it. he wouldn't do the climb!!! I don't see him forgetting his helmet."
Ron Minto

Social climber
Bethlehem PA
Jul 16, 2014 - 08:24pm PT
When Matt said "I'm going to the minarets tomorrow, " to me, means he meant exactly that. He would not mix words. instead, he would have said I am going to Clyde or a specific peak. I know nothing about the area or hiking, so if this a stupid question, please let me know. I have thick skin.

Is it possible to traverse the minarets without attempting a peak? For example, can a person move along the area, in a relatively safe way (3rd class), and say "I hiked the minarets"?

If so, what is the size of the area? Just curious, I understand the terrain and that regardless of the square miles/km the size is not relatively significant.

Also- seamstress...thanks and keep a weather eye on the horizon.
Kalimon

Social climber
Ridgway, CO
Jul 16, 2014 - 08:26pm PT
If it is your time . . . no helmet will be required.
Ron Minto

Social climber
Bethlehem PA
Jul 16, 2014 - 08:32pm PT
Kalimon - if you can please only add insight of value that would be highly appreciated.
Kalimon

Social climber
Ridgway, CO
Jul 16, 2014 - 08:34pm PT
Whatever Ron.

Carry on bro.
crankster

Trad climber
Jul 16, 2014 - 08:40pm PT
Ron, good question. Answer: a climber would not "hike" the Minarets. It wouldn't make sense. It's all broken talus & scree, difficult to navigate. You endure it to get to a summit, but you wouldn't traverse it for any logical reason.

I agree on your point about him specifically heading to the Minaret's, not an adjacent peak like Mt. Ritter. My only hesitation on giving that a 100% is if he was talking to a group of hikers new to the area, not climbers, he might have mentioned a landmark they would easily recognize.
T H

Boulder climber
extraordinaire
Jul 16, 2014 - 09:21pm PT
... you wouldn't traverse it for any logical reason.
Apparently Croft didn't get the memo.
crankster

Trad climber
Jul 17, 2014 - 06:39am PT
Croft did summits. The question was about hiking around the base. Let's don't sweat the small stuff...
Ron Minto

Social climber
Bethlehem PA
Jul 17, 2014 - 02:46pm PT
crankster, thanks for answering my question. It's clear now.
Cragman

Trad climber
June Lake, California....via the Damascus Road
Jul 19, 2014 - 05:46am PT
Really wonderful to spend time with the Greene family this week.

Bob and Tiffany hiked in to Ediza on the anniversary of Matthew's disappearance, so she was able to experience the grandeur of that stunning view of the Range from that spot.

An emotional week, to be sure.....but also one of great value for all.



We search on...
LAhiker

Social climber
Los Angeles
Jul 20, 2014 - 11:19pm PT
With Tiffanys blessing, Im trying to generate more leads by getting photos of pages from summit registers in the Minarets from the time around and after Matt disappeared on Wednesday, July 17, 2013 say, from ~7/12/13 to ~7/31/13.

This is not to see whether Matt signed the registers (for most likely Minarets we know this), but rather to find the names of people who may have seen or interacted with him or who could provide other useful information. People who signed the registers before or on that Wednesday might have spoken with Matt, might have still been camping/climbing in the area, or might have been hiking out when he was hiking in. People signing registers later in the month might have seen some of his gear or noticed something amiss.

SAR has already done this with Ritter and Banner, taking pictures of the relevant pages and trying to reach people who might have seen Matt.

I think the most frequently climbed Minaret is Clyde, so it might be especially helpful to get pictures of the relevant pages from that register, but other registers may also be helpful. So, if you have pictures of pages of Minaret registers within this time period, please send me a message.

Some Minarets dont have registers. Heres a list of the more southerly Minarets, with comments about their summit registers:

The more southerly Minarets, with comments about their summit register...
The more southerly Minarets, with comments about their summit registers.
Credit: LAhiker

And here are the more northerly Minarets:

The more northerly Minarets, with comments about their summit register...
The more northerly Minarets, with comments about their summit registers.
Credit: LAhiker

Some of the info about the registers isn't very recent, so please let me know if there are any errors or things to add. Thanks!

BTW, its great that we have the Minarets lead from the campers -- I hope we get more leads through people seeing the flyers...




crankster

Trad climber
Jul 21, 2014 - 07:03am PT
Excellent work, LAhiker.
T H

Boulder climber
extraordinaire
Jul 21, 2014 - 09:49pm PT
Was hoping for (usually good) view of Ritter Range from above McCloud Lake today, but cloudy/ bad light (I blame mother nature).
Credit: T H
HighTraverse

Trad climber
Bay Area
Jul 22, 2014 - 03:46pm PT
Ron posted the following very useful info and I want to make some observations:
When Matt said "I'm going to the minarets tomorrow, " to me, means he meant exactly that.
In casual talk this could include Ritter and Banner. I've sometimes meant to include R&B when I've said "Minarets"

Is it possible to traverse the minarets without attempting a peak? For example, can a person move along the area, in a relatively safe way (3rd class), and say "I hiked the minarets"?
unlike crankster I would say yes, depending on how you define traverse and hike. For me, 3d class is "hiking". I'd guess Matt might make the same simplification.

Let's take a loose meaning.
Then with mountain boots and axe one can hike easily from Ediza to Iceberg Lake to Cecile then, over South Notch, all around Amphitheater Lake, around the Southwest side of Adams and even climb Adams, 2d class.
One could continue along the scenic and not so often visited western base all the way to Ritter Pass (not officially named), then back to Ediza. You might want an axe on South Notch and Ritter Pass. I'd carry one.
From what we know of Matt, this would be a big day but not impossible. A fine, moderate finish to an excellent climbing trip. Obviously the entire circuit isn't necessary, one could go outbound till reasonably tired, or watching the clock, and return the same way.
If so, what is the size of the area? Just curious, I understand the terrain and that regardless of the square miles/km the size is not relatively significant.
Better to think in terms of travel hours than miles. See my note above.
For Matt's day out we have to include from one of the trailheads in Devil's Postpile. Most likely the northern Agnew Meadow TH. Two - three hours from TH to Iceberg (northern route) or Cecile (southern route) lakes. More like 2 hours for Matt with a light pack.
Minarets / Ritter-Banner routes that Secor lists as 3d class are candidates for Matt without helmet. I'll make a complete list this week and post it here. (I won't have time tonight or tomorrow)

Another note. We've recently learned of a good climber (can't remember his name just now) falling and breaking his leg descending Goddard. Not a difficult route. A misstep in big talus or above a moat can quickly become a serious problem when alone. We don't need to be even on 3d class terrain to come to grief.
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