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Songs2
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PostMon Jan 22, 2024 3:35 pm 
Link to discussion on VFTT.org (Views from the Top, the New England-, New Hampshire-centric hiking bb). The first post includes a link with statement from New Hampshire Fish and Game. He was not reached until almost 19 hours after F&G was made aware of a hiker in distress. Most of those posting on VFTT have hiked the mountains in question. Three weather systems collide around there (near Mt Washington). In the cols en route, the snow can accumulate to deep depths. Doing a "Pemi traverse" in 24 hours is usually a good-weather effort. WMUR news report WMUR is local news station.

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jaysway
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PostMon Jan 22, 2024 6:43 pm 
This is very sad to hear, my heart breaks for his family. It sounds like Christopher Roma was incredibly accomplished. The press talked about his Triple Crown (PCT, CDT, AT), but perhaps most impressive was his recent White Mountain Direttissima, which consisted of 250 miles of hiking and 75,000 feet of gain over 11 days. A single-day Pemi Loop in any season is a major accomplishment, let alone one in winter. Assuming that he was doing a clockwise loop from Lincoln Woods, by the Mount Guyot South Peak (I believe he was found near here) he would have been just under 18 miles in with over 8,500 feet of elevation gained. Where he was in the loop might be the most remote place for hiking in New Hampshire, with difficult bailout options. I did the loop over two days back in 2019, staying at Galehead Hut. The first day is still one of the most challenging days of hiking of my life. I can't even imagine the challenge of this trail in the winter.
Approaching Guyot
Approaching Guyot

Brucester, Songs2
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Songs2
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PostTue Jan 23, 2024 5:37 am 
jaysway, Thanks for the photo, and for your experience. I did a modified Pemi loop as a 5-day fall backpack. It was pretty darn exhausting. Though one person interviewed said "Pemi loop," I'm thinking it might have been a "Pemi traverse" Chris planned, point A to point B. There have been some 24-hour feats in winter, but I usually think of them as a multi-person effort or possibly a ski traverse, the low traverse, possible before a critical bridge was removed.* The posters on the VFTT thread I linked have pointed to the effects of hypothermia on thinking ability, which can strike the most experienced, best-prepared hiker. *His mother in an interview with Boston.com said he started with 2 friends, who turned back. Boston.com *There are reports the weather degraded rapidly. *F&G report did not address the equipment he was found with. F&G reports usually end with a paragraph exhorting everyone to carry appropriate equipment. Condolences to his family, and hopes for the best for his young son.

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Pyrites
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PostTue Jan 23, 2024 8:33 pm 
It sounds as if SAR attempt was assembled and moved into the mountains quickly. Finding someone in the dark in a couple hours isn’t easy.

Keep Calm and Carry On? Heck No. Stay Excited and Get Outside!

Brucester
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RumiDude
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PostWed Jan 24, 2024 6:08 am 
No new information really, just a perspective from The Trek. Rumi

"This is my Indian summer ... I'm far more dangerous now, because I don't care at all."
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Gil
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PostWed Jan 24, 2024 11:54 pm 
I think that knowing when to turn back is just as important as any of the 10 essentials.

Friends help the miles go easier. Klahini

Anne Elk, dave allyn, gb, Mountainfisherman
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RumiDude
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PostThu Jan 25, 2024 7:01 am 
Gil wrote:
I think that knowing when to turn back is just as important as any of the 10 essentials.
There is of course a real problem with that scenario, you need to turn back before you reach the imaginary line of no return. In other words, you need to turn around while circumstances are still relatively good and manageable and before things deteriorate to the point of unacceptable risk of disaster. And that is very difficult to get one's mind in the proper space to do that. Let me give you a common example. At what point in the aging process should person stop driving? Optimally we would all have a little indicator like on a frozen turkey that pops out when we reach the exact time in our life, and wherever we are we immediately stop driving never to get behind the wheel again. Unfortunately there is no such device. Additionally there is no such point. So to be on the safe side we should stop driving while we are still able. Not easy for most people to do. Most people keep driving well beyond, resulting in some minor accidents and tragically some have major accidents resulting in severe injury and death to themselves and others. Feelings override intellectual knowledge/understanding in almost all circumstances. That's why hard turn around times are routinely ignored. The intellect knows that going beyond the turn around time puts one into a risky situation. But the climber "feels" like they can still make it. This feeling is reinforced if they have ever fudged a turn around time in the past. Feelings are why many people rush a return to activities before they are fully recovered from an injury because they feel ready. Often that only extends their recovery and sometimes causes reinjury worse than the original injury. Knowing when to turn around and being disciplined enough to turn around are two different skills. Rumi

"This is my Indian summer ... I'm far more dangerous now, because I don't care at all."
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Songs2
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PostThu Jan 25, 2024 8:59 am 
RumiDude wrote:
In other words, you need to turn around while circumstances are still relatively good and manageable and before things deteriorate to the point of unacceptable risk of disaster.
I think this is it. The catch: in some cases one needs to decide to turn around before one needs to turn around, potentially before any reason to turn around presents itself. An evolving situation could also result in the decision evolving. With regard to terrain, options for turning around once one has topped out on the ridge are poor, especially in winter. There are no lateral bailouts. From where he was found, back many miles or forward another mile (plus 8-9 miles of walkout) in unforgiving conditions on an exposed ridge with occasional deeply snow-filled cols. Another hiker, Ken Holmes, a montane park ranger and experienced winter hiker in New England, also was caught by bad conditions on the ridge in 2004 during a solo winter backpack, and turned back. He was found at the side of a trail, 3/10 mile below the ridge. A friend's post It's a bad place to be in bad weather. Very little is known publicly about Chris Roma's last day and the sort of decision-making he engaged in, either alone or with friends or F&G on a cell phone. My deepest condolences to the family.

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Gil
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PostThu Jan 25, 2024 9:55 am 
RumiDude wrote:
There is of course a real problem with that scenario, you need to turn back before you reach the imaginary line of no return.
Exactly. That is why good decision-making skills are important. If you go to the "imaginary line of no return," then you have gone too far. And you should have turned back before. You have made a bad decision. As I have gotten older, I've realized that I can't go as far or as fast as I used to, and I MUST adjust accordingly. I keep a close eye on the weather. I decide on a turn-around time AND turn-around weather AND turn-around health. I've seen friends push beyond what they are really capable of, with negative consequences. I don't want to be that burden on anybody.

Friends help the miles go easier. Klahini

gb
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neek
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PostThu Jan 25, 2024 10:33 am 
Gil wrote:
If you go to the "imaginary line of no return," then you have gone too far. And you should have turned back before. You have made a bad decision.
With a loop, the "imaginary line of no return" disappears at some point - once you are past the halfway point (in terms of endurance), you have already effectively turned around. The problem is that the "imaginary line of no return" can change, and if it changes after you crossed it, you're in trouble. Another issue with the static mindset is that you've primed yourself to be incapable of dealing with surprise. That's why I roll my eyes when people talk about "turn around times" etc.

MangyMarmot, Carbonj, zimmertr, Chief Joseph
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Eric Hansen
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PostThu Jan 25, 2024 4:53 pm 
Seems like all backcountry travel happens by the grace and permission of the weather gods. I think experienced folks know when something shifts in the formula (weather, major heel blister, sore ankle, creek rising to point ford is dangerous etc.) and adjust, trimming the sails, recalculating. Rumi, your elder stopping driving analogy hits home. How about when should an elder stop backpacking? I'm entering that zone, turned 75. And finding it not easy to give up my annual Grand Canyon trip, which I've done pretty much my whole adult life. (47x). Yeah, I can mitigate the risk. Train hard. De escalate from off trail scramble trips. And be ready to bag it, turn around, if any knee or ankle issues turn up during the first day descent. But it is an interesting conversation to have with yourself. Is this a good thing, like an annual marathon run you train for? Or is it delusion? So far so good. But the party doesn't go on forever.

Off trail rambler

RumiDude, dave allyn
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RumiDude
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PostFri Jan 26, 2024 6:28 am 
Eric Hansen wrote:
Rumi, your elder stopping driving analogy hits home. How about when should an elder stop backpacking? I'm entering that zone, turned 75.
I am just 71yo so I may not have a good answer. *bigseptuagenariangrins* Seriously things can change faster than we realize. Ten years ago I could almost dance across a small downed 5" diameter sapling across a creek, with a few pirouettes added for the shear joy of it. Now I am fording that stream. Three years ago I could sustain 20 mile days on the PCT, but not sure I could keep that up now. I have relented in that two years ago I purchased an inReach Mini so that they can at least recover my body. Additionally I have scaled back what I attempt. I gave up winter travel and backpacking across snow, though that was more due to my vision limitations. Obviously no more night hiking either. I also am less inclined to travel solo except in familiar territory. Getting back to the idea of turning around and such, I am reminded of Ed Viesturs' maxim, "Getting to the top is optional, getting back down is mandatory. A lot of people forget about that. Your instincts are telling you something. Trust them and listen to them." Many people don't hold Viesturs in high respect because they regard him as too cautious and not bold enough. But an old street maxim also applies, don't write a check with your mouth that your ass can't cash. If your plans depend on everything going as hoped with no margin for error, mishap, or the unexpected, then your plans are flawed. Give yourself plenty of wiggle room; the greater the consequences the more wiggle room you need. Again, we know too little of the circumstances of this tragedy at hand. We know nothing of his preparation or his mindset. May his friends and family be consoled and find peace. Rumi

"This is my Indian summer ... I'm far more dangerous now, because I don't care at all."

Anne Elk, Chief Joseph, dave allyn, Eric Hansen, Brucester, Waterman
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thunderhead
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PostFri Jan 26, 2024 9:19 am 
Gil wrote:
If you go to the "imaginary line of no return," then you have gone too far. And you should have turned back before. You have made a bad decision.
Indeed. Turn around at the so-called point of safe return. Beyond this point i cannot return with reasonable reserves remaining. Thats a bit of a subjective point but its a better mindset.

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PostThu Feb 01, 2024 4:13 pm 
Interesting article from the NH Union Leader with additional details. (It says it's a 9 minute read, but I did it in just under 6!)

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NightOwl
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PostThu Feb 01, 2024 5:22 pm 
catsp wrote:
Interesting article from the NH Union Leader with additional details. (It says it's a 9 minute read, but I did it in just under 6!)
So much irony here:
Quote:
Roma had recently launched his own guide business, NorthEast Trekking Co. On his website, he wrote that he wanted to serve hikers “looking for more than just a workout and a view.” “The hiker that is looking for the life lessons and experiences one gets through hiking. I experienced a lot of learning the hard way, and my goal is to educate and inform you about the dangers of the wild, the trials and tribulations, and the importance of sustainability,” he wrote. “I want to show you that if we take care of nature, nature will take care of us, mentally and physically.”
Or maybe the better word is hubris, which according to the Greeks leads to madness, then nemesis. Almost a textbook case right here, imo. Sounds like he hadn't yet learned some important life lessons himself, about humility and nature's utter indifference to us.

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