Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Missing hiker found (sad) and climbing stats

There is sad news in the park this week. The lost hiker, Jeff Graves, wasn't found alive after three days of intensive searching. A helicopter crew located him (TNT 6/21) at the base of a cliffband north (climbers left) of the main Eagle Peak trail (TNT 6/20). This comes as a setback to the NPS staff, as Jeff's mother was (and remains) a dedicated volunteer with the park.

It seems that Jeff probably lost his way while descending (TNT 6/21) the trail on Saturday and ended up falling off a cliff during cold, wet and cloudy conditions. Getting lost in such conditions (i.e. lost on the snow in the forest) isn't that uncommon either. It's very easy to lose the foot path when there is still snow covering the trail and that snow is old and dirty. This generally occurs when there is a tree canopy with lots of debris, dirt, moss and other things to cover up footprints and make things hard to follow while descending...

As for climbing specific information, the 2007 climbing season has an interesting start. There were 2,017 climbers between Jan 1 and June 20th in 2006. This year, we've had 2,033 climbers during the same period AND a higher success rate. Both facts are worth noting, because the park was virtually closed for four months.

The solstice is around the corner and summer is near. I want to thank everyone who has taken the time to contribute to my cell phone question. I would definitely welcome more comments, as I know there is a lot of interest, as there are in your summit trip reports. Send them along if you've got 'em.