Forum Index > Trail Talk > Another fatality on Iron Cap this weekend
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car68
Out on the skids



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Out on the skids
PostTue Sep 03, 2019 6:17 pm 
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King County helicopter crew and Seattle Mountain Rescue responded to a downed hiker today.  Looks like he was the victim of a very long fall.  No details yet on the identity but the family has been informed. 

Please be careful people.

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I'm the guy 911 calls.
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Tom
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PostWed Sep 04, 2019 2:16 pm 
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Sorry to hear.  frown.gif
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kvpair
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PostWed Sep 04, 2019 2:20 pm 
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+1. RIP. Sometimes the mountains do extract their toll.
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puzzlr
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PostWed Sep 04, 2019 7:02 pm 
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I got a glimpse of some information indicating that this accident occurred on the normal Alpline Lakes High Route where it gets a little steep going by Iron Cap. Maybe we'll get a rescue video to confirm that. I've never done that route but many do without mishap every year. I really wish SMR still published their monthly activity reports. It was like a local version of the AAC publication that comes out every year, and very instructive.

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Secret Agent Man
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PostWed Sep 04, 2019 11:13 pm 
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puzzlr wrote:
I got a glimpse of some information indicating that this accident occurred on the normal Alpline Lakes High Route where it gets a little steep going by Iron Cap. Maybe we'll get a rescue video to confirm that. I've never done that route but many do without mishap every year. I really wish SMR still published their monthly activity reports. It was like a local version of the AAC publication that comes out every year, and very instructive.

I was a huge fan of those SMR reports. Im not a volunteer for them so maybe I dont get to complain about it if Im not helping solve it, but Id love to see those back again.
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Animal Chin
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PostThu Sep 05, 2019 7:31 am 
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This route was not popular until published on the Washington Hikers Facebook group.  Now, it is probably traversed every week.  I don't think many know that you need to be very experienced in route-finding, scrambling and loose rock terrain.  I am sure now that the secret is out, this is not the last fatality that we will hear about on this route.
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Sculpin
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PostThu Sep 05, 2019 7:54 am 
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Animal Chin wrote:
This route was not popular until published on the Washington Hikers Facebook group.  Now, it is probably traversed every week.

I'm wondering if there is an inaccurate GPS track that folks are following.   confused.gif

I have no way to judge how usage has changed because of social media, but I can attest that folks have been using this route every week in season for decades.  There are very few - if any - comparable high traverses that require no technical skill if you manage to stay on route.

Back in the day of paper maps and written directions, visitors would drive right to my house.  Now they use phone apps and I see them driving around the neighborhood a few times until they finally call and say "which one is your house?"  Just sayin.

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Even my best friends, they don't know, that my job is turning lead into gold. When you hear that engine drone, I'm on the road again, and I'm searching for the philosopher's stone - Van Morrison
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MangyMarmot
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PostThu Sep 05, 2019 8:46 am 
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On our high route trip we tagged Iron Cap and headed North-East toward Tank Lakes. We quickly got into some steep terrain and ended up backing off and backtracking some distance to where the slope mellows out. That steep section must be where people are running into trouble.
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joker
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PostThu Sep 05, 2019 9:05 am 
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Yeah, it was already getting somewhat "popular" when we did it early in the  century, as multiple reports from here will evidence. I doubt the prior fatality occurred due to simply following a GPS track, as the  victim was a long time Cascades mountaineer with several much more technical routes under her belt over decades of climbing as I understand it. It's hard to imagine someone like that would just put their nose down in a GPS on a route such as this.

I haven't seen this route mentioned on WH&C other than  as part of  the discussion of Ann Nelson's recent  death. Have there been  several reports that  I missed?
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MtnGoat
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PostThu Sep 05, 2019 9:16 am 
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What the heck...I saw no one back there in the years the road was open and everything was easier to get to. Now there are tons of trip reports and a few deaths.

what happened to make this obscure and tricky route so crowded?

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Diplomacy is the art of saying 'Nice doggie' until you can find a rock. - Will Rogers
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joker
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PostThu Sep 05, 2019 10:31 am 
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I had been curious about it since reading about it in the Beckey CAG. After seeing some discussion  here comparing entry via Dorothy-> Gold Lakes versus Big Heart -> Chetwoot, I decided it was time to give it a go, using the latter approach. A smattering of TRs has appeared here in the roughly decade and a half since, and I would  think that's true of other  sources such as WTA trip reports and Cacadeclimbers etc.

And the relevant roads aren't closed. Yes, you could have also entered via the Middle Fork, but nowadays it seems most folks  loop Foss/Necklace.

It's not actually clear to me how much busier this route is versus ten or twenty years ago but I'd be surprised if it's not at least  two or three times as  busy given the more than  doubling of the overall hiker days that folks like the FS  have reported over the past decade (per a Seattle Times article a while back).

There are a LOT more hikers,  and most of us take at least some cues from online info. The people who claim TRs and the like aren't having an impact are just wrong.

All that said, it's hard not to wonder if some people are taking  ideas from TRs w/o realizing the degree to which they're  upping the  risk stakes on some trips. I've seen much  higher levels of risk in backcountry skiing get fairly "normalized" over the past decade or so - some from trip reports and some I think from Martin Volken's guidebooks which have some pretty aggressive and risky routes without nearly as much warning verbiage as Burgdorfer included when he included such options. FOMO and the "social proof heuristic" may be factors as well.
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neek
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PostThu Sep 05, 2019 11:13 am 
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I had no idea this was a documented route when I did it 10 years ago.  Just looked at a map and it seemed like an obvious thing to do.  Feeling like going back (on a weekday) to rediscover it--maybe just got lucky with the routefinding the first time.

Social media (including this site) definitely encourages people to go do things they wouldn't otherwise figure out on their own, but it also provides safety lessons and clarifies the best route.  Like a well-placed cairn.  I'd guess these opposing risk factors more or less cancel each other out, and the increase in accidents (if that's really a thing, or maybe we're just more likely to hear about it) is mostly due to increased use.  Clearly there are examples (waterfall-selfie-death) where the internet is a huge factor in bad decision-making, but I really doubt it's had much effect on overall risk.  Could be wrong.  At any rate, online info has helped me enjoy all sorts of places I wouldn't have found or had the courage to seek out on my own, so my overall opinion of it is positive.  For Iron Cap we just have 2 incidents, not really enough to draw any conclusions.
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John Morrow
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PostThu Sep 05, 2019 12:55 pm 
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joker wrote:
There are a LOT more hikers, and most of us take at least some cues from online info. The people who claim TRs and the like aren't having an impact are just wrong.

Jade Lake, Tuck and Robin Lakes are the perfect example.  150-200+ people present in each of the holiday weekend days at both places from what I've heard.  Both areas heavily trip reported and instagramed and facebooked (CC Hikers and Climbers, etc.).  Bear Creek Mountain never hardly saw anyone, a half dozen recent WTA TR's and now the parking at the end of Section 3 is full on weekends.  It is too easy to get any info one wants.
I've given myself a moratorium on writing TR's.  They're just becoming destructive on the landscape.  I need to take a hard look at my own intention.
What I see is a commodification of the natural world, only the most dramatic and scenic places are the ones worth visiting.  Forests are boring and monotonous...better plug in the earbuds to get through it.  There's no time for solitude, introspection and simply being in a wild place to observe and sit quietly.  And then there is some posting bordering on narcissism.  Me, me, me look at me.  Not so much here, more on blogs, Instragram and the like.  Maybe I am swinging the pendulum too far the other way but what happened to the unknown and discovery?  PCTers have apps for each campsite and beat a new one out when they arrive to find the site taken.  Nobody even seems to bother with maps.  What happened to traditional navigation?  Too slow and difficult...might not reach the sweet lake in time or bag the peak.  Better download the breadcrumb line of GPS points.
Yeah yeah, I know, I've been guilty of some of this, too.  But we are at a tipping point in the PNW now.  And I am not sure how to handle it.

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Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?-Mary Oliver

A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.
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kvpair
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PostThu Sep 05, 2019 2:45 pm 
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Are we leaping to conclusions vis-a-vis social networks leading inexperienced/unprepared people to their deaths? We don't actually know what happened here. I did this route for the first time a few weeks ago and I used nwhikers TR as a way to scope out the route. I found the discussions here a very valuable resource for safe planning. So I'd hate to see them go away.

The weekend I was there, we saw only one more party who planned to traverse over to Tank. So I'd argue that it is hardly being overrun. I agree that solitude is harder to find. But we are in the fortunate position that we live in a wonderful part of the country where we have plenty of wild places to wander.
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Jeff
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PostThu Sep 05, 2019 3:13 pm 
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Animal Chin wrote:
This route was not popular until published on the Washington Hikers Facebook group.  Now, it is probably traversed every week.  I don't think many know that you need to be very experienced in route-finding, scrambling and loose rock terrain.  I am sure now that the secret is out, this is not the last fatality that we will hear about on this route.

When was that? I did it last October and I only saw one party at Big Heart (out for an overnight from Foss TH) and one party at the Tank Lakes on day two. And a couple day hikers in the Necklace Valley.

Routefinding was super simple. I only had to look at my map a few times. Of course that could change in bad visibility.

I am convinced it all goes with a minimal amount of class 3. But you can make it as interesting as you would like.
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