The Anchorage Adventurers Meetup Group Message Board › Safety First (Glen Alps rescue)

Safety First (Glen Alps rescue)

user 13387955
Anchorage, AK
Post #: 1
When a person leads a trip or, as the Meet Up Group (MUG) calls it, organizes a trip he is responsible for the people that follow him. I am not talking about the legalities I am referring to the moral aspect. Its fine to say to yourself "well I didn't make them go" but the bottom line is that they wouldn't be there if it wasn’t for your "idea" and when someone dies I can guarantee that the "organizer" is going to have to live with some pretty lousy feelings for the rest of their life!
MUG events are very social and that’s just fine its way cool to be outside with people you like but climbing mountains is NOT a social event. To scramble up the front range peaks in the summer is totally different from winter climbing. A 40 degree scree slope that barely requires hands to ascend in the summer is transformed into a much steeper acting slope in the winter and when it’s a winter like this with little snow and very cold temperatures even a good climber is going to have a hard time stopping a fall or even controlling a glissade on hard compact snow.
This trip was an accident before it left the parking lot, 18 people on the O'Malley ridge, handing out crampons and ice-axes to people that don’t know how to use them........if I hadn't been on MUG events in the past I wouldn't believe it! John R took a lot of time to put together a training class for ice axe and crampon use. He advertised it well in advance, put videos on your web site and found a place to hold the class. Six people showed up, one third of the people from one trip that wanted to go play on hard frozen snow on top of a ridge!
I’m not some kind of safety freak here, as a matter of fact America’s obsession with safety aggravates the hell out of me, but I have to live in this land that is becoming overrun with laws enacted to protect the idiots from themselves. Trip leaders (organizers) you HAVE to realize that a very large percentage of the people participating on your trips don’t know what they are or are not capable of doing or even what is safe and what isn’t AND you need to know your limits; have you been there before, do you know the conditions currently. If you choose to teach; for example, do you know how to walk on crampons, is it second nature, can you explain to others how to do it? A mountain where tools are needed to facilitate climbing is NOT the place to learn how to use them!
Greg P.
user 13376216
Anchorage, AK
Post #: 87
Veteran skier couldn't outrun avalanche -
FRIEND LIVED: Men were enjoying a bluebird day in the Hatcher Pass area.
Published: March 20th, 2011 10:50 PM­

On Saturday, there weren't signs of other avalanches in the area. A weak layer under wind-deposited snow collapsed and slid, Orley said. A classic avalanche. The snow pack is shallow, so even the weight of a person in just the right spot could set it off, he said.

"The thing about it is, every indication is this guy was a very careful, knowledgeable backcountry person," Orley said. "In no way do I want to imply that he was being reckless yesterday. In Alaska, anytime you go into the backcountry you are taking risk."

user 11656384
Wasilla, AK
Post #: 17
Here is one method that has been used sparingly in the past to weed out people who might get in over their heads: Require everyone who signs up for a trip with some danger to be:

1. Personally known by you
2. Have a reference from someone who you know
3. Have a reference from an AO

One other helpful idea is to add things to the description like:

This cant be your first time in a kayak
This trip cant be your first time on skates
You must know how to self arrest with an ice axe
and so on.

If people know that some skill or experience is required most will "self select" out of activities that they shouldnt be doing.

Dont be afraid to tell someone at the begining of a trip that you think they might be in over their head, it might be a little awkward, but its better than them spending a night in a hospital or a whole summer in a cast. They may even thank you for the honesty and frankness, and may be completely unaware of the potential danger. Be suspicious of anyone who is offended by this sort of straight-talk. Quite often, the man who will tell you what you dont want to hear is ultimately your best friend...if someone shows up who you can foresee getting into trouble, take a minute and be their "best friend" by giving them the truth.

Finally, inexperienced glissading without an axe and other gear is statistically one of the likeliest ways to seriously injure yourself...its totally possible to reach speeds of 35 or 40 mph and have absolutely no control over the situation. Its like driving a car at highway speed with no brakes no seatbelt no airbag and a dashboard made of boulders. If you just break a bone you should consider yourself lucky, as concussions and traumatic brain injuries are a very real possibility, and have a lifetime of unpleasant consequences.
user 4070271
Group Organizer
Anchorage, AK
Post #: 23
Many of the AOs have in the past specified the skill level for a specific outdoor event. And rejected RSVPs of those who don't qualify.
I like the idea of including the skill level when announcing the event. Some are obvious: First Friday, for example. Others are not so clear. If all AOs included skill level in the intro, and a brief talk at the start of the activity, it would not only be veneficial, but would clear our minds a bit when something untoward does happen, as seems to be inevitable. This is Alaska and we are outdoors, after all.
Greg P.
user 13376216
Anchorage, AK
Post #: 88
Gear: The Ten Essentials for safe travel in the backcountry­

Our meetups are mostly day trips, so it's easy to feel complacent about safety. We're only a few miles from our cars, and often have cell phone reception. But things can and do go wrong: accidents, natural disasters, wild animal attacks, or navigation errors.

How many of us are truly prepared if we're stuck out in the field overnight or worse? Especially in winter? Do we have adequate clothing and shelter to care for an injured person? Are we prepared for sudden severe weather? What if an earthquake takes out that trail bridge we planned to return on? Or we get back to the trailhead late at night to discover the car has been stolen?

The Ten Essentials are a great equipment checklist for surviving the unexpected.
A former member
Post #: 128
I'd like to add extra Essentials for anytime we're on frozen water...
--Throw Bag (Ak Raft & Kayak has fabulously strong & tiny ones)
--Ice Claws
And, a harness for Fido in case he breaks through as he's slippery to grab.
Greg P.
user 13376216
Anchorage, AK
Post #: 89
For ice tripping I'd also suggest a change of dry clothing sealed in a waterproof pouch. BTW, here's an article I saved from last year on Nordic skating in Sweden. This lady sounds really hardcore... :-)

A 30,000-Island Smörgåsbord
Sweden's winter landscape of spas, evergreens, peace and ABBA memories­

Stockholm has had an especially cold winter this year, and on weekend winter mornings, archipelago ferries have been filled with day-tripping ice skaters. Armed with ski poles, used to test the stability of the ice, and with long-distance skates that strap onto hiking boots, the skaters usually plan their trips at the very last minute, says professional guide Ylva Schöldberg. She leads groups out to the archipelago during skating season, which lasts into early March. Conditions change, she says, even hour to hour, due in part to the salt in the water—which can cause the surface to melt. Falling through the ice is quite common, Ms. Schöldberg says, and her backpack, always filled with an entire change of clothes, also acts as a flotation device. (On the Web, offers information in Swedish on archipelago day-trips from Stockholm for experienced skaters.)

user 4070271
Group Organizer
Anchorage, AK
Post #: 24
I just received an inquiry about Outdoor First Responder training and whether any of the Adventurers are certified and/or instructors.
The person will probably be posting it on the Message Board, so now is a great time for us to consider undertaking appropriate training......I do not know what all is involved, but we will find out.
Outdoor first aid classes are offered fairly regularly also.
Even tho we are not officially in charge of AA events, it never hurts to know what to do for family and friends in an outdoor emergency situation.
Greg P.
user 13376216
Anchorage, AK
Post #: 90
Skaters survive fall through ice (Chilkoot Lake, December 2010)

These folks barely made it out alive, and now they carry ice spikes for self rescue. They had trouble removing their frozen skates, so a knife would be useful to cut the laces.

user 5545655
Anchorage, AK
Post #: 11
REI just sent out their event calendar for April and May. They seem to be having more events and some of them may be good for beginners or newbies (backpacking, GPS, bear awareness, map & compass skills, etc). The weekend of May 14 & 15 there is a two-day wilderness first-aid course with the Wilderness Medicine Institute. Here is a link if you would like to check out the events:­. Too bad it is the same weekend as the Clean Air Challenge!

As for Jo's posting on the Outdoor First Responder, would this be the Wilderness First Responder certification? The company I work for has put quite a few of our geologists, field personnel and others through this program. It is a very intensive week-long program. Additionally, every spring our company does Bear Awareness Training, which I'm hoping to take this year. All of these programs are available to the public if individuals are interested. If any organizers are interested in getting meet-up together for either of these programs, I would be happy to provide contact information.

Many of the new members to this group are new to Anchorage and/or Alaska, and join in an effort to meet new people, get outdoors and experience new activities. This is the reason I joined. I will never forget my first meet-up, it was a very eye opening and learning experience in so many ways....I'm surprised I ever attended another event. I'd like to make a suggestion for a monthly-potluck, one in the spring and one in the fall. Each would cover the essentials of the upcoming season's events. Example: winter outings like skiing, hiking and snowshoeing should require a pack with some food, water, a warmer coat, extra hat & gloves, ability to make fire, first aid items, rain pants & jacket for wind protection, neck gator/balaclava, goggles, etc. While it does help to include more information in the meet-up post, I think this might be a way to convey to new members basic requirements for being outdoors in Alaska.
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