Ski Club 2.0 Home
Snow Reports
FAQFAQ

Mail for help.Help!!

Log in to snowHeads to make it MUCH better!
Username:-
 Password:
Remember me:
durr, I forgot...
Or Register
(to be a proper snow-head, all official-like!)

Haute Route Disaster Article from OO

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
galpinos wrote:
davidof wrote:
https://www.outsideonline.com/2329041/chamonix-zermatt-alps-haute-route-disaster


Pretty incredible story. I'm surprised at the number of mentions of people navigating by phone. I have never liked the idea of using the battery of my only device I can use to call for help as my main navigational tool as well. It seems to have little redundancy. Also, space blankets! Bivy or bothy bags have long been the staples, blankets are little use in the mildest of breezes.


I survived an unintended overnight in a blizzard which came in earlier than forecast in the Highlands one Feb quite easily. Simple old skool orange plastic bivvy bag with corner cut for air. Dug a bench in the lee of a boulder. 4 pack or Mars Bars for fuel/ morale. Actually was lovely walking out at dawn.

Helped I was in good plastic mountain boots.
ski holidays     
 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Terrible tragedy. So easy to criticize with hindsight.
snow report     
 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
DB wrote:
I still don't get this nationality difference thing. Other nationalities learn from guides too, look at all the courses the Alpenverein, DAV, SAC & CAI etc run.

.


That rather highlights the difference. The alpine clubs have formal programs, for example you generally can't sign up for tours without doing a safety course. The leaders are trained to high standards not incomparable to MIA or MIC in the UK, those qualifications are often part of the UIAA training platforms. That doesn't really exist in the UK where clubs don't really operate like that with notable exceptions like some good university clubs.

The commercial side is different, far more travel or recreationally based. It's probably such a difference precisely because the alpine clubs do what they do.

The UK is different, there is the CC, AC, ABMSAC, eagles etc but mostly people act as individuals and sign up with trips.

As a consequence, a guide led European group is different in outlook to a UK one.

There's still some cultural norming there, this is just more common with Brits but it's not universal. Americans are somewhat different again IME.

Brits do lose out by not having access to the alpine club training though. There are moves to standardise some of the avalanche rescue protocols and communication of them which should benefit Brits in particular IMO
ski holidays     
 You need to Login to know who's really who.
You need to Login to know who's really who.
@ise,

Sorry I'm going to have to respectfully disagree again.

There's even a british section of the Alpenverein club located in Britain
https://aacuk.org.uk/

The Austrian Alpine Club (UK)
Office address: AAC(UK), Unit 43, Glenmore Business Park,
Blackhill Road, Holton Heath,
Poole, Dorset. BH16 6NL.

Loads of mountain courses in wales & scotland, here are just a few ...
https://www.mountain-training.org/

I did this course over 20 years ago
https://www.pyb.co.uk/course/mountain-leader-training-summer/

signed up for the winter course but was on the waiting list for years and then I relocated to Austria
https://www.glenmorelodge.org.uk/mountaineering-courses/cat-18-winter-mountaineering-winter-climbing/
snow report     
 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
I'm fairly aware of the courses that MTUK run, I've completed the mountain leader summer course myself Very Happy

https://www.baiml.org/baiml/directors/#ianspare
https://www.uimla.org/executive

I'm well aware of the UK sections of alpine clubs, I did already mention ABMSAC of course. These are pretty small scale, IIRC DAV has about 170k members in total with around 30k in the Munich area alone. In the UK you've got around 51k members of the BMC with around 24k in affiliated clubs. They're not offering the amount of training that the other alpine clubs, or UIAA members, do but there's no common model. BMC have run a lot of good training as well, I've delivered an outdoor first course for the BMC myself in fact.
ski holidays     
 You'll need to Register first of course.
You'll need to Register first of course.
Whitegold wrote:
The guide was amateur-hour.

Not checking the weather. Not enough battery. Not enough phones. Not enough GPS. Not enough backup devices. Not roping up. Not enough food and drink. Not enough shelter.

Dood was a disaster.



Really, he's climbed three 8000'ers and set up a guiding business in the 90's running many trips. A lot of customers and other guides praised him saying he was normally very careful. One of the group survivors had been on numerous trips with him before (Lisa).

Have you ever led a group in thick fog and wind above 2000m altitude? - I have, it aint easy even with map, compass, phone with navi app & Garmin outdoor GPS with detailed maps of the area. On another ocassion I've had to deal with someone who started showing signs of hypothermia and became dis-orientated at altitude. It's easy to fire off quip comments from behind the internet in the comfort of your armchair but until you have experienced fog, high winds, exhaustion, early stages of hypothermia, dis-orientation and getting lost at high altitude it's all just an uneducated opinion.

He did check the weather. I don't know if if he forgot to charge the phone, often in the mountain huts there are two sockets and 100 people waiting to charge their phones. The press speculated a lot of things e.g. he didn't have a GPS etc but did the police ever confirm this?

Even Reinhold Messner commented on this tradegy and said in a sudden complete whiteout you are up sh'ts creek without a paddle.
http://www.alpin.de/home/news/23932/artikel_bergdrama_im_wallis_ermittlungen_entlasten_bergfuehrer.html
snow conditions     
 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
DB wrote:

He did check the weather. I don't know if if he forgot to charge the phone, often in the mountain huts there are two sockets and 100 people waiting to charge their phones. The press speculated he didn't have a GPS etc but did the police ever confirm this?


They will, it's the general protocol after an incident to establish the professional is properly equipped. This would typically take the format of producing a photo or video inventory of the gear at the time of the incident. It's often normal to do a breath test as well. In any following investigation, it reduces uncertainty. There are checks by the PGHM who'll give guidance on what should be carried and it's covered in professional development (to varying degrees currently). That's reflective practice of course and based on the understanding of incidents.

The normal, current, expectation is that a professional has some means of communication. That would require satphones or radios in most places. Having a flat battery is no more acceptable in them than it would be for a transceiver. Everything gets lighter, there's just more of it to carry. Personally, I have a couple of smartphones, a flip phone that lasts forever and a satphone (which is a pain going through security at the airport).

A lot of huts are installing charging stations now and will find somewhere for a guide to charge their phone if asked. Power generally is less of an issue than it used to be. For modern or refurbished huts, solar panels and battery are way better than they were.
latest report     
 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!

http://youtube.com/v/kjD1yq4V8vo
snow report     
 You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
@ise,
Was a police report published, if so what did it say?
snow conditions     
 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
Quote:
The group was perfectly equipped for the itinerary from the point of view of the equipment, the Mountain Guide had with it all the necessary devices for safety, GPS, satellite phone and smartphone with Swiss map.


https://www.up-climbing.com/en/ghiaccio-misto/news/haute-route-chamonix-zermatt-guide-alpine
ski holidays     
 snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
Over the years I've kind of grown to obsess about the weather, even for everyday stuff. Long story.

But for a high altitude mountain stuff you would have thought it would be essential. And with something like the HR were there are plenty of other parties a weather event like this shouldn't come as a surprise.

It's a sad tale. TBH no point in carrying the discussion on too long. It's clear the mistakes that were made and unless someone can communicate with the dead we're not going to know why they were made.
snow report     
 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Into next week, for the next four / five weeks I'm going to be spending time with a guide mate who is now getting back his fitness levels after an accident last May in preparation for the coming season, with a fair bit of cycling (as he said he needs to be pushed) and then hiking / climbing where he'll get his own back.

I'll try and bring this tragic story up into conversation as I'm sure he like most guides will be aware (they have access to various locked websites / forums) as to the horrendous events.

But in the past when there have been big accidents and loss of life involving guides I find that he and others are not willing to open up.....

So if asking the obvious question "Well what have you done if you'd been there" I would probably be met with some philosophical response along the lines of "I wasn't so how would I know".

And any further interrogation the answers would be equally evasive, for sure other guides might be different?

I've only ever once been in a similar situation and we simply turned back and retraced our route, then it was heavy snow and zero viz and no wind, but it's the violent winds that can take a manageable situation and turn it into a catastrophic one.

Also when in Japan ski touring this year up Mount Yoti in one of the three days of the year the sun shines I asked the guide what happens should there be an incident as no heli can normally fly, and he had a substantial amount of gear that I suspect European guides might not carry?

Another awkward question maybe to ask?
snow report     
 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
DB wrote:
... until you have experienced fog, high winds, exhaustion, early stages of hypothermia, dis-orientation and getting lost at high altitude it's all just an uneducated opinion....

Perhaps we should all compare our CVs so we can decide who has the most experience?
Then we would not need opinions at all, instead just deferring to the one with the most experience wink

Italian Guiding Association wrote:
The group was perfectly equipped for the itinerary from the point of view of the equipment,
the Mountain Guide had with it all the necessary devices for safety, GPS, satellite phone and smartphone with Swiss map.

The eye-witness reports do not tally with that on multiple points.
A flat satellite phone battery makes that accessory a brick, for example.

--
I wonder what their standard protocol is. Do they publish it? I'd expect no single points of failure, for example.
It looks like an attitude problem, exacerbated by lack or failure of formal protocols.
snow conditions     
 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
philwig wrote:
DB wrote:
... until you have experienced fog, high winds, exhaustion, early stages of hypothermia, dis-orientation and getting lost at high altitude it's all just an uneducated opinion....

Perhaps we should all compare our CVs so we can decide who has the most experience?
Then we would not need opinions at all, instead just deferring to the one with the most experience wink


I missed that earlier, as a point of interest, hypothermia doesn't really have a standard presentation. It's quite hard to identify where being cold becomes hypothermia and in reality (my experience) when things go bad, they go bad very quickly and the casualty goes into shock fast. Much the same can be said of hyperthermia as it happens.

philwig wrote:

Italian Guiding Association wrote:
The group was perfectly equipped for the itinerary from the point of view of the equipment,
the Mountain Guide had with it all the necessary devices for safety, GPS, satellite phone and smartphone with Swiss map.

The eye-witness reports do not tally with that on multiple points.
A flat satellite phone battery makes that accessory a brick, for example.

--
I wonder what their standard protocol is. Do they publish it? I'd expect no single points of failure, for example.
It looks like an attitude problem, exacerbated by lack or failure of formal protocols.


There are protocols, there could be more and they could be better published (edit, in my personal opinion). If there are safety protocols then it seems to me that in safety conscious environments they ought to be known so that we can verify compliance and increase confidence. For example, you already see some commercial operators requiring contractors to carry satphones and making it part of their tender response for work. Generally, there's no "one size, fits all" - what's appropriate will vary and a major task in any incident review is to identify what the expectation is for that scenario. That may appear to be less fixed than you expect but it's the very definition of an expert that they take these decisions.
snow report     
 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
philwig wrote:
Perhaps we should all compare our CVs so we can decide who has the most experience?
Then we would not need opinions at all, instead just deferring to the one with the most experience wink


Does that mean we should take Messner's opinion (that I posted earlier) or can anyone else on here top his CV? wink

Suspect there isn't much motivation to convict a dead man and his wife so am not sure if a formal full investigation and report was ever published. As I understand it they took a GPS with a recorded GPS track from Tommaso Piccioli - if there is one would the police report be published in French and where would it be published? Eye witness events esp at altitude and when exhausted are often conflicting, ask Jon Krakauer.

As others have said opinions after the event on how much the guide was at fault are pretty pointless. What people can do to avoid being caught in a similar situation or if they are ever caught in the same situation what can they do to stay alive interests me much more - hence the reason I've put up the snow shelter and mountain training links. Can you add anything to that?
latest report     
 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
ise wrote:
I missed that earlier, as a point of interest, hypothermia doesn't really have a standard presentation. It's quite hard to identify where being cold becomes hypothermia and in reality (my experience) when things go bad, they go bad very quickly and the casualty goes into shock fast. Much the same can be said of hyperthermia as it happens.


At the time I didn't know what was going on, we weren't all that high (approx 2000m) it was winter but not that cold (approx minus 5). One girl in the group started to act strangely as though she had been drinking/smoking something. In a matter of minutes she was falling over on easy terrain and didn't respond to simple requests. We made a bee line for a nearby winter room to warm her up but the door was frozen shut with ice. We also gave her all the extra clothing we could. I decided the best thing was to get her off the mountain ASAP cutting the tour short and taking the quickest route down. It was difficult as we had to escort her down by telling her to hold onto the back of my rucksack but she would just let go and wonder off. Exhaustion and altitude does funny things to the mind, it's possible the HR group had all the right equipment (Bivybags etc) and know how on how to build a snow shelter but did not have the capability to use it as their minds had gone cuckoo.


From the long interview translation on page 1 ….

Tommaso Pìccioli wrote:
Look... as far as I can remember, there was suitable ground for digging a trune*, all around where we stopped and where we stayed. We could have walked only ten metres away and dug a trune. Yet none of us, not even Mario, said, or went there to dig a trune.


*trune = snow cave as far as I can tell
https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/truna#Italian

More info.
http://hauteroute2017.weebly.com/blog/day-5-april-5th-2017-cabane-des-dix-to-cabane-des-vignettes
ski holidays     
 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Remember that without a smartphone or GPS you'd be more likely to stay put in the hut and wait out the weather and without Tommaso's GPS they may have hunkered down or turned back much earlier rather than spending hours trying to find a route to a hut they could see was only a few hundred meters away. It's that big risk homeostasis thing again.

@DB - and the French non-guided group did survive in a snow cave. Despite their obvious navigation problems perhaps that was the difference between a small, cohesive group and a large, heterogeneous guide lead group.
ski holidays     
 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
davidof wrote:
@DB - and the French non-guided group did survive in a snow cave. Despite their obvious navigation problems perhaps that was the difference between a small, cohesive group and a large, heterogeneous guide lead group.


I'm with you on the small cohesive group. The guided group may have all been at the same fairly experienced level but they weren't a team. The french survived because they worked as a team and built a snow cave, the others probably survived because they were fitter and so could stop themselves from falling asleep (big respect to the 72 year old).
For such a trip with people who have not all toured together before it would be better to do a days avi training and snowcave building beforehand. This would build the team and work out the individual strengths of the group.

The people with whom I am planning to do some 4000'ers with will be out with the snow shoes, avi training and digging snow caves as soon as there is enough snow to do so.


Last edited by Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see? on Wed 3-10-18 16:01; edited 3 times in total
latest report     
 You need to Login to know who's really who.
You need to Login to know who's really who.
DB wrote:

*trune = snow cave as far as I can tell
https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/truna#Italian


correct, you have to be careful with some of these terms but that's correct. I happened to read it in an assessment report recently and I had to check.
snow conditions     
 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
I think that is as tragic a story as I have read.

I guess the their are lots of people who post on here who are involved in professions where 'human factors' are very often involved in bad outcomes.

I'd guess that this was the case here.

Storm -Haut Route - Group - Stuck in Deep Muddy - Expert Halo- Stopped on rocky ground- More stuck thinking (?hypothermia)- Night fall-Snow blindness

You wonder if there might have been other distractions somewhere, guide stressed or preoccupied, some critical errors with packing / gear checks etc
latest report     



Terms and conditions  Privacy Policy