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Old 09-18-2017, 09:49 PM   #21
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Probably is the best out of respect for Mr Stevens and family to keep the exact site unknown to the public at large. It's not up to me.

As a SAR member, we are cautioned against releasing privileged information that we may have as part of an incident mission.
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Old 09-19-2017, 12:07 AM   #22
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Tragic, condolences to Stevens family and friends.

If ADE article is accurate, it sure is a terrible way to leave this realm.
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Old 09-19-2017, 07:02 AM   #23
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Thanks to all the SAR crew for your continued service!
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Old 09-19-2017, 07:11 AM   #24
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I wish the outcome had been Alex getting out of there alive! Thanks to all the rescue crews and their unflagging efforts to make that happen. Small solace, but at least the family has closure.
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Old 09-19-2017, 11:12 AM   #25
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@Wldrns

The Adirondack Daily Enterprise revealed where he was located. They have a photo of a map containing the searchers tracks and an "X" allegedly indicating where he was found.

The precise location isn't important (to the general public) just the fact he was found down-slope of the summit (and had not fallen off the cliff). He was in the process of descending the mountain.

The article states he had no compass nor means of starting a fire. The coroner will attempt to identify the cause and time of death.

Speculation: I believe his location is consistent with the lack of a means of navigation. He may have tried to backtrack along his ascent route (in the rain) but the terrain funneled him off to the west.
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Old 09-19-2017, 12:52 PM   #26
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Man Missing in High Peaks (9/12/17)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Trail Boss View Post
@Wldrns

The Adirondack Daily Enterprise revealed where he was located. They have a photo of a map containing the searchers tracks and an "X" allegedly indicating where he was found.

The precise location isn't important (to the general public) just the fact he was found down-slope of the summit (and had not fallen off the cliff). He was in the process of descending the mountain.

The article states he had no compass nor means of starting a fire. The coroner will attempt to identify the cause and time of death.

Speculation: I believe his location is consistent with the lack of a means of navigation. He may have tried to backtrack along his ascent route (in the rain) but the terrain funneled him off to the west.


Approximate location transferred to a clean Topo map.

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Old 09-19-2017, 12:55 PM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trail Boss View Post
He was in the process of descending the mountain.
May I ask how you know or gleam this bit of info? (he couldn't possibly have been backtracking or resting or just going in circles?)
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Speculation: ... terrain funneled him off to the west.
Lets try to hold off on speculation, it does neither us nor the next of keen any good.


On the other hand 2,500 man hours and 40 flight hours are quite the numbers. Anyone know what the current year's overtime figures are for the DEC?

Thumbs up to the searchers for finding Alex and avoiding additional incidents in the process.
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Old 09-19-2017, 01:10 PM   #28
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May I ask how you know or gleam this bit of info? (he couldn't possibly have been backtracking or resting or just going in circles?)
He indeed could've been doing all the things you mentioned. However, they found evidence of him having established a campsite atop Wallface (and an unidentified personal item). They found him ~800 feet below the summit (~0.6 miles WNW of the summit). Therefore, whether through a direct line or otherwise, he descended.

If they were incorrect about the evidence of his campsite then he may have never reached the summit and was found where he ultimately stopped. However, *that* would be speculation on my part.

Here's a summary of the details reported (so far) by the Adirondack Daily Enterprise:
  • Reported overdue 6 days after his planned return. He was on Wallface for 9 days before the DEC was notified.
  • Evidence suggests he camped atop Wallface. Therefore he ran into trouble during the descent.
  • The first of his three days had pleasant weather and then it turned foul for several days afterward.
  • He had no compass nor means of starting a fire.
  • He was located at an elevation of ~2900 feet and just ~0.6 miles WNW of Wallface’s summit (height is ~3700 feet). Effectively, he had descended ~800 feet but in the wrong direction.

I assume you've traveled off-trail and know how the terrain can influence your heading. You want to go thataway but it's easier to follow the natural slope ... at least until it begins to funnel you well away from your desired bearing. If you don't pay close attention you can easily find yourself being diverted well away from where you want to be. Remove the compass from this equation and now you are at the mercy of the terrain. Forget about the desire to head southwest, the slope sloughs you off to the west.

Take a close look at the map Joe posted and you'll see a drainage leading northwest, then curling west to meet the brook emptying Wallface Ponds. He was found just north of this drainage. Did he follow that down? I don't know. However, I do see tightly spaced contours everywhere and the drainage is one of the few "weaknesses" in a land filled with cliffy ramparts. If you have no means of navigation other than following the easiest way down, that drainage is a likely candidate.

Except there are many other "likely candidates" off of Wallface (with a higher probability of use). The ADE's map shows many colored tracks notably the pale blue line that explores the southwestern shoulder (a very likely descent route).

When Neil and I traversed from MacNaughton to Wallface, our route passed 1000 feet away from where he was found, but 500 feet higher, well above the steep terrain lying between him and the open woods and gentler terrain we followed. We had maps marked up with our route and bearings plus GPS for backup. We had studied the area's contours and satellite imagery. There's no way I'd enter that area without so much as a compass.
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Old 09-19-2017, 01:44 PM   #29
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Take a close look at the map Joe posted and you'll see a drainage leading northwest, then curling west to meet the brook draining Wallface Ponds. He was found just north of this drainage. Did he follow that? I don't know. However, I do see tightly spaced contours everywhere and the drainage is one of the few "weaknesses" in a land filled with cliffy ramparts.
*Not knowing the terrain, and also of course knowing he didn't have a compass and presumably/maybe not a map either, the other "weakness" I can see is on the brief ascent due north, then continue on to the marked trail a little bit further on. Basically, quite a bit less than a mile to safety.

I find this fascinating, and of course very very tragic. Tragic for obvious reasons, fascinating because I was encamped not 30 miles (SW) from this on a friend's property the same weekend. There were warnings for frost on Saturday morning, but we didn't witness any, it was close to freezing. Later Saturday we hiked to GC Santanoni, it was warm enough for short sleeves and for the kids to dip their toes in the lake. Saturday night was a bit warmer than Friday night, but the rain came before daybreak. Then we holed up most of the day Sunday, the kids went to the museum.

Later Sunday, I fished some of the logging road streams near camp, including some bushwack, during which I found myself thinking "boy, glad to be within sight of the trailhead, glad to be able to go back to a dry camp:" it rained 3/4" plus that day. Now knowing that young man was contending with that while I had those thoughts...
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Old 09-19-2017, 02:08 PM   #30
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Whatever his motives or his direction of travel, my thoughts go out to family and friends.
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Old 09-19-2017, 02:13 PM   #31
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Old 09-19-2017, 02:37 PM   #32
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I'll presume that he never got close enough to the brook that comes out of the WallFace Ponds to see it flowing downstream and didn't have the opportunity to follow it out, per the advice I often see given to follow water down the mountain. Or if he did, he didn't know that.
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Old 09-19-2017, 04:50 PM   #33
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Therefore, whether through a direct line or otherwise, he descended.
It's probably safe to say he made the summit and was on return leg of his trip. However, descent implies he was traversing down the slope (when he ended up at the scree field) - I can't draw that conclusion from the scant accounts available.

Terrain can in fact cause a diversion, but again, there's nothing to indicate his initial direction of descent. Let's not speculate. It'd be just as easy to go in the wrong direction off a summit socked in with fog or rain lacking navigational equipment.

If he followed the climbers herd path to the summit, either he couldn't locate the path on return or couldn't follow the path with the gear he had in the conditions on the day of return.

I'm fairly certain that neither Neil, nor you wore "open toed sandals" when you 'whacked between MacNaughton and Wallface.
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Old 09-19-2017, 05:48 PM   #34
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... descent implies he was traversing down the slope ... - I can't draw that conclusion from the scant accounts available.
I maintain that whether by direct line or otherwise, he descended. To get from 3700 to 2900 feet you descend.

Quote:
... there's nothing to indicate his initial direction of descent. Let's not speculate.
Agreed, and I didn't. I don't know what was his intended bearing but his body marks his ultimate heading (west).

Quote:
It'd be just as easy to go in the wrong direction off a summit socked in with fog or rain lacking navigational equipment.
You've described his situation to a tee.

Quote:
If he followed the climbers herd path to the summit, either he couldn't locate the path on return or couldn't follow the path with the gear he had in the conditions on the day of return.
Agreed; I subscribe to this theory as well. There's some evidence of his ascent route (a water bottle) but there's no published information about his descent route. We'll probably never know his intended descent route but we do know where he ended up.

I believe he used the "Law of Up" to navigate to the summit. Basically you ascend until there's nothing left to ascend. The terrain's pointed shape limits your choices of direction; you're guided to the summit. Entropy decreases as you ascend.

There no equivalent "Law of Down". You can certainly follow a slope down, and you'll descend, but rarely to your intended destination. Course corrections become required; you're guided nowhere but down. Entropy increases as you descend.

Quote:
I'm fairly certain that neither Neil, nor you wore "open toed sandals" when you 'whacked between MacNaughton and Wallface.
That's correct. We wore "closed toed sandals" (trail shoes).

For the curious, here are photos of our trip. We got a good drenching from Wallface's summit down to Indian Pass Brook. The final photo is a 3D Google Satellite view of our route. Alex Stevens was found down in the "amphitheater" visible in the foreground.

Neil's trip report is here.

FWIW, if one is interested to know what the terrain looks like along the brook draining Wallface Ponds, here are HearTheFootsteps' photos of his trip to MacNaughton via the brook.
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Old 09-19-2017, 06:16 PM   #35
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Sounds like a slow painful death. Pneumonia and possible Hyperthermia...


http://www.adirondackdailyenterprise...in-wilderness/
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Old 09-19-2017, 06:20 PM   #36
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That's a shame. If he had had a few more items and perhaps if we went with someone...
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Old 09-19-2017, 06:41 PM   #37
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Truly awful. My heartfelt sympathies to his loved ones and friends. He was a budding explorer and his death touches all who love the wilderness.

The details can be dispassionately analyzed forwards and backwards but, ultimately, a young person's life was lost and the world is a poorer place for it.
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Old 09-19-2017, 07:03 PM   #38
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Man Missing in High Peaks (9/12/17)

Pneumonia

http://www.adirondackdailyenterprise...form=hootsuite



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Old 09-19-2017, 07:20 PM   #39
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If my calculations are correct from DEC reports over the past two months, there have been 12 incidents reported of unpreprared hikers in the High Peaks region requiring rescue or recovery via 911, and 8 incidents of injured hikers in the High Peaks region requesting help via 911. There must be a better way to help make people rely on a little more than just their smart phone for safety.

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Old 09-19-2017, 07:46 PM   #40
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I have been through there fairly close to where he was found (how they found him in there I'll never know) 3 times in the past couple of years (once up to WF with Trail Boss and twice down from WF to WF Ponds). On each occasion that I was descending I got off of my desired route and had to climb (about 100 feet) out of the steep walls of the drainage. I was using a map, compass and altimeter and I still got off route twice. What that suggests is the when descending it is very difficult to hit a determined point or to know just where and when to make a turn. It's easy to imagine that with no compass Alex had simply wandered downhill. It sounds like he may have been ill and suffering as well.

This will be very difficult for his family to think about for a great many years to come. It's bad enough to have a loved one's life snuffed out quickly but to have to consider their slow and painful end must be unbearable.
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