Forum Index > Trip Reports > Vesper Peak Glacier and Piles 'o Trash on the West Ridge
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Thedrunkbaguette
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Thedrunkbaguette
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PostWed Sep 07, 2022 1:51 pm 
"An exploration of the Vesper Peak Glacier yields garbage and no resolution to the search for Sam Sayers" TW for discussions of human remains and violent crime.
Where: Vesper Peak (6214ft), Stillaguamish Native Land When: Labor Day Weekend, 2022 Trail stats: ~10.5 miles/5200ft cumulative gain (up to camp, over to west ridge, up to summit, back to camp, up to the portal, down glacier, up around glacier, back to camp, back to car)
Case: Sam Sayers, 2018 Objective: Assess feasibility of a fall into moat systems from trail/summit block and search Stony Creek side for an upcoming family-lead search. Context: Hey NWHikers community! I figured y'all would appreciate photos from my most recent missing hiker search with A Higher Calling PNW. AHC PNW matches climbers who want to donate their skills with community needs in order advocate for a better future for victims of crime and systemic oppression. I work most of my summers on abandoned SAR cases. This summer we've been hosting, supporting, and leading search-work on Blewett Pass, Vesper, Mt Rainier, and the Middle Fork Snoqualmie.
This weekend's search was something I've really, really wanted to get on. There has been some hypothesizing that if a hiker fell from the summit block of Vesper, they could become obscured from view by sliding into the gap between the edge of the summit and the edge of the glacier. It seemed HIGHLY unlikely, but I've noticed many people who searched this area point to it as something worth exploring. It'd reportedly already been searched in the initial law enforcement response, but we figured as the glacier melted, it'd become easier to see into. This area is particularly brutal to search as it involves a 4th/5th class descent nearly one thousand feet below the trail onto a dying (often crispy-fried) glacier.
The Sayers case continues to be on our minds because of its unexplainable mystery. The case features: - Numerous videos, photos, and witness statements show Sam summitting VP on Aug 1 - Cell phone data backs up a summit but perhaps suggest a descent off the wrong side - A witness insists they saw Sam descending the wrong side of the summit block - Witness statements from those who saw her summit then state they never saw her descend With little proof Sam ever made it down past the campsites along the ridge, we've kept our search field high. This means the search-work is always difficult to execute. We don't have a helicopter or thousands of dollars. Volunteers have to climb at least 4000ft with the average day being at least 12 hours. Throw in a smaller weather window than cases like Blewett and an overpopulated trail system like our work on Hidden Lake, and we don't get out there much. When I see an opportunity to get up there, we go. This time, we'd get an opportunity to search something that will likely not be searched again- the Vesper Peak Glacier. Day 1 was a bit of a bust. We set out to observe each angle of the summit ridge from west to east. However we spent the entire evening sifting through piles of trash on the westside as we ran into some sort of encampment on our way from summit headed west. There is a mine about 600ft downhill of the summit, but it looks to be abandoned.
Day 2 we got up early and climbed into the moats.
It was finally from this angle that I understood how unlikely a fall from the trailside of the summit block would be to result in a fall into a crevasse or moat. The summit block is almost entirely overhanging, and a fall would result in a clean landing onto the center of the glacier- easily visible.
The Stony Creek/west side is a bit different. The angle of the ridge could cause (the chances are low) a fall that results in a slide down into the lip of the glacier. However, the chances of someone falling would not leave behind a boot or a trekking pole and this item *not* be found along the way down seem virtually impossible. This theory has been ruled infeasible in my book. If we are wrong though, the glacier will likely have completely melted before I am in my 40s. We should be back out before the end of the month with this newly gained beta. Follow @ahighercallingpnw on IG or head to ahighercallingpnw.com for dates as they become available. More on this case is posted to 'The Search for Sam Sayers Data Repository' on Facebook.
Kisses, the dirty bread

Bramble_Scramble, vk, KascadeFlat, day_hike_mike, Silas, Tom, reststep, jaysway  awilsondc
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Schroder
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Schroder
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PostWed Sep 07, 2022 3:32 pm 
She's somewhere on the South side from the summit, either in a cranny in the deep gulch on that side or the brushy cliffs just below. Always lots of mylar balloons land on that peak.

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slabbyd
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PostWed Sep 07, 2022 4:41 pm 
Bigger mystery is what in the hell is all that garbage? Clearly helicoptered in. Doesn't look that old. Some sort of mining claim? Or just a weekend blowout for rednecks with too much $$$?

Silas
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pula58
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PostThu Sep 08, 2022 9:02 am 
I remember the Kevin Dares and Carlton “Bud” Carr search for Samantha Sayers where they were allowed to make a base camp on on the mountain, with large canvas tents, lots of equipment. Could that be the source of the new-ish looking garbage? Just speculating.

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Thedrunkbaguette
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PostThu Sep 08, 2022 9:12 am 
mosey wrote:
I recall a notorious ex felon that threatened online to shoot anyone making him leave set up several canvas structures as a base camp in the meadows above lena for months on end nearby
Awh I miss Budd! He's on sabbatical this year after Hidden Lake. Their camp was on the eastside, and I've always observed they use pretty typical military LNT principles.

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Thedrunkbaguette
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Thedrunkbaguette
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PostThu Sep 08, 2022 9:14 am 
pula58 wrote:
Kevin Dares and Carlton “Bud” Carr
Nawh, Kevin hasn't been out that way. And I checked with him- he said the garbage like this was not there back then. Apparently its not necessarily one person's encampment either, but instead more of a collection of folks looking to make money off the natural resources without much in their way.

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RichP
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PostThu Sep 08, 2022 9:43 am 
I saw some of that garbage about 9 years ago? WTF? Way more now it seems.

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Bramble_Scramble
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PostThu Sep 08, 2022 7:27 pm 
I'm wondering if that garbage is miner's junk. I think I read somewhere the claim is still active and they might collect garnet specimens? Edit: https://www.mineralauctions.com/items/vesper-peak-washington-field-trip-90478

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maurella
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PostSun Sep 11, 2022 6:58 pm 
slabbyd wrote:
Bigger mystery is what in the hell is all that garbage?  Clearly helicoptered in.  Doesn't look that old.  Some sort of mining claim?
Short answer is yes. In October 2020, I went up Vesper to check on the garnet seam there and ran into a fellow running a pneumatic drill (we could hear it faintly from the summit). He readily noticed us and let us know we were on an active claim in that stereotypical manner where we got the point we were not welcome, but he softened up and gave us the skinny on the claim. He'd been supplied by helicopter early in the season and would stay until snow came.

Sic Transit Gloria Mundi

jaysway, Bramble_Scramble
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