Missing friend in Mammoth Lakes area

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Messages 601 - 620 of total 2255 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
crankster

Trad climber
South Lake Tahoe, CA
Aug 22, 2013 - 11:54pm PT
Not really any couloirs visible from Unicorn, Greg. The Dana Couloir is close to that area - it appears he had already climbed it.
It sounds like he was climbing classic routes from the guidebook.
Delhi Dog

climber
Good Question...
Aug 23, 2013 - 12:00am PT
Also, I was back in the Mathes Crest area July 20th. Did not see any snow worth lugging boots and an ax into. Of course that's just me though I doubt he would either.

Doesn't hurt to mention it though Greg, thanks.
Cragman

Trad climber
June Lake, California....via the Damascus Road
Aug 23, 2013 - 12:04am PT
Greg, the sad reality is that there are literally HUNDREDS of things ALL of us can think of that Matthew may have gone and done....clearly they cannot all be searched.

The window of decent searching weather for the high country is rapidly coming to a close. In my opinion, the most logical place he may have gone, is the area we are purposing to focus on...the Ritter Range.

With the amount of time that has elapsed, it has gotten excruciatingly hard to find anything. It will likely come down to some climber/hiker/adventurer, at some point in time, coming across some evidence.

Personally, I think most of any effort at this stage, should be focused on the Ritter Range.
T H

Boulder climber
extraordinaire
Aug 23, 2013 - 12:24am PT
I think I asked this early on - did the Red's Meadow (or YARTS) shuttle drivers ever get interviewed about the specific date(s) when he went missing? I know they may have had full buses/ distractions etc, but that seems very basic to the investigation.
QITNL

climber
Aug 23, 2013 - 02:19am PT
Rather than guess where Matt's trail may have ended, I'd suggest retracing his probable steps from his last known position. This might help to guess where he may have been going. Maybe I need to fill in some blanks but something has always seemed a little strange about this affair. I have a lot of questions, I'll offer them here hoping they may be helpful. As a fellow solo hiker, they've been running through my head, might as well write them down.

I might make some false assumptions as I try to reconstruct this, please correct me where I'm wrong. Since this incident is under investigation, I fully understand certain answers can't be provided on a public forum.

From the OP (and other stuff I've been reading):

Matt was hiking/climbing with some friends in the Mammoth Lakes region and staying at the Shady Rest campground. Prior to his disappearance he happened upon some car trouble (his Subaru blew a head gasket). Matt stayed behind while his car was repaired at the Norco Goodyear repair shop with plans to meet up with friends in CO down the line. His last known phone call was to the repair shop around 4:30 pm on July 16th, with some texts to said friend around 8-8:30 that same night. Additionally, his last use of credit cards was a purchase in mammoth lakes that same day.

Matt may have spent Tuesday July 16 in or near the village - when and where was this credit card transaction? At 4:30 pm he calls his mechanic - Matt is somewhere within cell range - his mechanic says "your car will be ready Thursday, day after tomorrow."

The last signal was traced to a cell phone tower on top of Mammoth Mountain that was pointing north towards the main ski area.

Was this the text message sent at 8-8:30pm on July 16? If so, that's his last known postion, the sun is setting and he has a bit of a walk to get home - it's about 4 miles by road from the ski area to Old Shady Rest Campground (behind the ranger station.) The last shuttle bus was at 7pm. Would he have hitched a ride? Is there any confirmation he returned to the campground that evening? Has anyone searched between the ski area and campground?

I looked back through the weather reports - shouldn't have been a problem, weather was nice around that time. Half of a new moon or whatever it's called, rising.

He was paying for his spot day to day. He must have paid for the night of July 16. Did he pay for the 17th? It's not a busy camp, but how long would they leave his tent standing until the campground host noticed? Was he paying for his site on his own or sharing it with someone?

If his cell was not activated on July 17, it was either discharged or broken or he never left for Ritter or Lyell at all. If it was working, he'd be dinking about with it waiting for the bus, right? If he didn't pay for his site on the 17th, that might be enough clue. Determining the precise point when and where he went missing could be real important here.

He was carrying a large black/white backpack (pictured directly in back of his car in the picture), yellow LaSportiva Nepal Extremes boots, crampons, and one ice axe.

Can you actually confirm that he was carrying these items? Or were these items merely absent from his camp/car? After two dry years, there were only a couple of spots in the entire Sierra where you could stick an axe in snow this July. Those boots would be total overkill.

I can't help but think the axe/crampons may be a red herring. Your opportunity to use them was virtually nil - save a few spots in the vicinity which have been scoured. If he went up Clyde Minaret on July 11th, he knew that quite well. Could they have been stolen, stashed elsewhere or sold?

You certainly wouldn't need them for Lyell. I'm tempted to rule out Lyell. If he left Mammoth at 6AM Wednesday on YARTS, he'd arrive at the trailhead around 8AM; he'd need to return to the trailhead by 6:45. That gives him 10.75 hours for +4500 feet and 27 miles. Why would you bother if you knew you'd have your car tomorrow? Unless he's one of those super-hiker guys and loves bus rides.

If he spent Tuesday in or near the village and had one more day to kill before he's reunited with his car (and his ass out of that dumb campground, his mitts on real granite instead of crappy Ritter choss), I don't think he'd be going far. If he takes the first and last shuttle in & out of Red Meadows, his there-and-back is limited to 11.5 hours. If you're gonna dayhike Ritter or Banner, you're taking a fairly straight and well-travelled line.

I dunno, but I have a sneaking suspicion that something else happened along the way, something we may not be considering at all. Maybe a very strange accident, somewhere off the beaten path, or - sorry to suggest it - foul play? Is Matt the kinda guy that makes friends? I'm not, I've only zipped through Mammoth, so I don't know the crowd. What's the demographic around Old Shady Rest - meth-head freaks or stand up guys?

Sometimes people bump their heads, get amnesia, end up elsewhere - there was a story like that right around when this story started.

Sorry for your friend and I certainly can see how much you guys love him, that's pretty special. He looks like a real nice guy. If any of this rambling train of thought might be useful, I'd be honored to have helped you. When I lose my keys, I always try to remember the last place I had them and start working from there.

Edit - yikes - sorry that was long!
Fluoride

Trad climber
West Los Angeles, CA
Aug 23, 2013 - 02:44am PT
QITNL don't worry about the length of the post. You bring up a lot of worthy questions. Very well thought out. Thanks for posting this. A lot of us are questioning a lot of things. His family and friends are looking for closure and his climbing family is stepping up. Very inspiring.

Is there surveillance video from where his last purchase was? Was he alone? Was he with anyone? What was his mood? What was he wearing?

The village has a ton of security cameras cause there's so many businesses in the area. Someone had to have a last pic of him before he went missing after being there. There are so many businesses there. Stores, bars/restaurants and bars tapes like this and looked through them and either he wasn't there or wasn't visible...are authorities going through those?

Been following this thread. Just a big mystery in so many senses.
QITNL

climber
Aug 23, 2013 - 03:09am PT
Oh, I'm sorry, I forgot - two more questions:



When did he blow out his head gasket and stick his car in the garage?

Was he kicking back or crushing it during that time?

Just to guess how far he was venturing when he didn't have a partner or a ride. I assume he had one or the other for Clyde.
tdg119

Social climber
Northampton, PA
Aug 23, 2013 - 07:08am PT
Pretty sure Head gasket blew around July 4th; had to wait for holiday to pass to get car into shop. Confirming w my parents. Can you say longest repair ever?

It was so much time, I think he did anything and everything to pass the time. His friends did say all his clohes were clean, folded, organized like he'd just done laundry. No doubt preparing to leave town.

Ok, going to go off on a tangent here. Not sure if none believes in psychics. I don't usually bother with them but when there are no other clues, well, several of us did touch base with them. About the only interesting one was the following:

-She feels to look within a mile radius of where his car is. (That would have been the garage where it was being fixed.) She sees a walkway/road with a rail of some sort, from there if you look over it, there is water. She feels he fell, didn't get severely injured from the fall but needed help and didn't have reception. Feels he was bit by a snake in his calf and he may be in a ravine. She said she had seen this over and over. If she sees anything additional she will call me.-

The other thing that has been bugging Matt's friends is that all the evidence seems to indicate that Matt spent the day of the 16th in town. We saw that he liked and commented on an article on Summitpost on a topic that indicated he was just killing time. His laundry was clean and folded. He went to Rite Aid. His campsite was paid for that night. So we assume that he went off for a day hike on the morning of the 17th. His phone records show that he spoke to the garage on the 16th and was told the car would be done on the 18th. The confusing thing is that Detective Hornbeck and Bill Green said that his calls at 8:12 and 3:09 on the 16th were from town (according to the ping off the tower) and the 4:30-4:35 calls to/from the garage were pinging from on top of mammoth or north of there. Which makes no sense. Why would he be in town all day and then go up to mountain.



So, Andrea (one of Matt's friends that went back out), has been keeping in touch w Donna (driver out there who was super helpful) and they've been relaying back and forth.

One of the possibilities discussed was Earthquake Vault: in a MSG from Donna: "Just got back from a hike up at the Earthquake Fault with a friend. Spent a hour and a half there. Mile from town, ravine, railing, no water, no snakes. You can get cell phone reception there just a bit North, East of the mountain. Hiked along the rim. Did not go into the bottom. Parts of it are very steep and cant get into it, at least someone my age cant but someone younger could go down in there and check it out. Might be a bit dangerous. Funny thing is that there is a trail my friend said that goes from Shady Rest Campground directly to the Earthquake Fault. Don't believe much in psychics, but I'm thinking I may change my mind here. "

One of Donna's friends also said, "If he did stay in town and the first psychic is accurate, then he could have walked up the bike path on Lake Mary Rd. Once you get up toward Tamarack, there is a rushing creek that is a big drop down into a ravine and I think a railing. Maybe the cell phone ping from the mountain would occur if he were up there?"

So everyone, take that for what you will. Wanted to share; might be easy quick places to search and prove psychic right or wrong.
Cragman

Trad climber
June Lake, California....via the Damascus Road
Aug 23, 2013 - 08:23am PT
Interesting thoughts....my one reaction is that the areas mentioned are SO heavily traveled, it would be virtually impossible NOT to be seen....clothing, gear, and certainly a body.

Also...the whole missing gear thing...why would he have taken that particular gear if not going to a spot he could use it?

As I said at the beginning of the search for Matthew, for a guy of his experience, fitness level, and goals.....the search area is literally HUNDREDS of square miles. And for a guy like Matthew, within that giant search zone, there are infinite places he could have met with an accident.

The foul play question is a legitimate one. Mammoth is a small town, but the same issues found in a large metropolis exist here, i.e. meth, whack jobs, etc.

With so little information to go on, I don't think you can rule out much...which, sadly, makes the search area that much larger.


EDIT: As I mentioned in my TR, if there is anything good to come out of this case, it is the example to all of how leaving information behind goes such a long way in aiding in the search....or for that matter, even starting one.

Crankster mentions his "frustrations" up thread. Yep....no more frustrating a case for SAR than this type. Lots of good people who would love nothing more than to help, with virtually no clue where to look.....in an incredibly vast, complex, dangerous, and dramatically beautiful sandbox.
tdg119

Social climber
Northampton, PA
Aug 23, 2013 - 09:33am PT
The strangest thing for me is when I look at Matts phone records. On the morning of the 17th he turned is phone on at 2.53am PT. No other time during the month/entire trip was his phone on this early.

It was clock work, he always turned it off by 9 or 10pm and the earliest he ever turned on was 6am. I am guessing to save the battery....
Why on the day that he goes missing is the phone turned on so early? To call for help, maybe, foul play - who knows?

We know for a fact the night before (on the 16th) everything was fine, he was texting back and forth to friends until 9.30pm, joking, etc... No mention of a big hike the next day.

Even when he did go on big hikes, when he did get up early, he never turned his phone on that early. Only on the 17th, the day he disappeared his phone goes on the middle of the night???

To me this indicates something happened at 2.53am, which means he did not get far from camp.
-Ron
Cragman

Trad climber
June Lake, California....via the Damascus Road
Aug 23, 2013 - 09:37am PT
Thanks for posting that, Tiffany...that IS a very interesting piece of information.


EDIT: Perhaps he turned it on to utilize an alarm feature...to wake him in a couple hours for an early start.....maybe turned it on when he got up to take a leak....check his messages....
tdg119

Social climber
Northampton, PA
Aug 23, 2013 - 09:50am PT
good point cragman, but why only this day....it doesnt fit his pattern. BTW, this is Ron (Tiffany's Husband). I user her logon and try to always sign "-Ron" when its me. :)
Leggs

Sport climber
Tucson, AZ
Aug 23, 2013 - 09:52am PT
This thread is incredible, in every way.
I find myself in awe, once again, how our community comes together in times of need, rallies, and supports one another.
I will admit my heart skips a beat when I see it bumped, then relief at the fact so many of you are offering up your expertise and time to search for Matthew.

~Blessings to all of you... and positive vibes for all involved, esp family and friends missing their loved one.
Cragman

Trad climber
June Lake, California....via the Damascus Road
Aug 23, 2013 - 09:53am PT
Ok Ron...sorry...I thought that was perhaps an email that Tiffany was simply forwarding to us.

: )
tdg119

Social climber
Northampton, PA
Aug 23, 2013 - 10:07am PT
He had a really old flip phone. No internet access, etc..The thing was a dinosaur.
-Ron
MGuzzy

Trad climber
Orangevale
Aug 23, 2013 - 10:08am PT
I too have been following this thread since its inception. Not being from the area or in the area has left me a frustrated spectator.. I too want to get out there and shake the bushes. My heart goes out to friends and family as well.
Massive kudos to those that are putting time into search efforts especially those that are bring SAR backgrounds with them.. ya'll know who you are!

Cragman-
Also...the whole missing gear thing...why would he have taken that particular gear if not going to a spot he could use it?

I have to agree with QITNL. I think this is a huge assumption on our part. Assuming he went on a day hike to a certain area based on the gear that was missing assumes he took it with him. We don't know for a fact that HE took his gear. That's a jump from A to G with too many other scenarios in between. For example maybe his crampons and shoes were stolen and he took his back pack with him to go retrieve them and met with and accident or foul play. Or he sold them to help cover the cost of the repairs knowing the next stop on his itinerary he would need them. That's as much pure conjecture as going off to play on the snowfields of Ritter. The snow fields of Ritter just sound more enjoyable.

QITNL's post rang a bell with me.
QITNL-
Can you actually confirm that he was carrying these items? Or were these items merely absent from his camp/car? After two dry years, there were only a couple of spots in the entire Sierra where you could stick an axe in snow this July. Those boots would be total overkill.

I can't help but think the axe/crampons may be a red herring.

And if I were getting my car out of the shop in the next few days I think I would be more inclined to stay closer to town as the completion date neared with the notion they might get it done earlier. especially if they already had it for so long! [two weeks to fix a blown head gasket?! I think I would have (I know I would have) set up shop on the side of the road and fixed it myself. but that's me]

I agree with QITNL's line of thought. We are following assumptions based on based on assumptions. Probability gets real fuzzy after the second assumption my Stats prof used always say.

(sorry I just reread my post and noticed I've been using "we" when you guys/gals have been doing all the leg work. I've been so engrossed in everything I feel a part of it too. The collective mind working together)
10b4me

Ice climber
Wishes-He-Was-In-Arizona
Aug 23, 2013 - 10:22am PT
He was paying for his spot day to day. He must have paid for the night of July 16. Did he pay for the 17th? It's not a busy camp, but how long would they leave his tent standing until the campground host noticed? Was he paying for his site on his own or sharing it with someone?

excellent questions
Cragman

Trad climber
June Lake, California....via the Damascus Road
Aug 23, 2013 - 10:26am PT
All GOOD to keep those minds churning.....
Cragman

Trad climber
June Lake, California....via the Damascus Road
Aug 23, 2013 - 10:33am PT
+1 Riley
tdg119

Social climber
Northampton, PA
Aug 23, 2013 - 10:35am PT
Agree with Riley.~Ron
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