TraditionalMountaineering Logo - representing the shared 
companionship of the Climb

Home | Information | Photos | Calendar | News | Seminars | Experiences | Questions | Updates | Books | Conditions | Links | Search

  Search this site!
Read more:
Jump to our Analysis:

Missing snowmobile riders found, one dies from hypothermia

Two missing Bend snowmobilers found alive
Son conscious, alert; both have hypothermia
Searchers on skis, snowshoes, snowmobiles and sno-cats pressed search for two missing snowmobilers

Posted: 1:32 PM, Nov. 28, 2006
Last Updated: 7:49 PM, Nov. 28, 2006
By Barney Lerten,

Hours after their snowmobiles were found, along with two sets of footprints in the deep snow, word came shortly before sunset Tuesday that a Bend father and son had been found alive, two days after failing to return from a trip near Mt. Bachelor.

Radio communication was poor, so it took time to get information (about the) conditions of Roger and Brian Rouse, said Deschutes County sheriff's Cpl. Neil Mackey.

The pair were found in the Bridge Creek drainage, about two miles west of the Tumalo Falls trailhead and about 10 miles west of Bend, Mackey said.

Brian Rouse, 29, was conscious, alert and able to talk to search team members, but his father, Roger Rouse, 53, was not responsive, Mackey said. Both were suffering from hypothermia, as one would expect after two days and nights in the cold, snowy terrain. The difficult terrain was proving to be a challenge for those working to rescue the pair, with ambulances waiting at the trailhead for their arrival.

Search officials were trying to locate a helicopter that could airlift the pair from the scene, but Mackey said that might not be possible, due to the steep, wooded terrain and cold, snowy weather. More ground crews were hiking into the area to help stabilize the two patients and prepare them for likely ground transport out to the nearest road, Mackey added.

Mackey said he'd yet to see the areas involved mapped out, but that the pair probably had walked four or five miles from where they left their snowmobiles to the spot where they were found.

"I can tell you that from past experience, in limited visibility, it's very easy to get sucked down over the side, off of one of the main trails, and into the Bridge Creek drainage," the corporal said. He added that it appeared they were "following the drainage downhill toward what they felt was civilization."

He also said it appeared the airlift idea "probably isn't going to work out," which means they won't be out until late in the night, unless crews decide it's better to bivouac for the night.

"This is not country that's conducive to just riding a snowmobile or a sno-cat in and back out," Mackey said.

The big break in the search came around 1 p.m. Tuesday, when searchers found the two men's snowmobiles, and two pairs of tracks on foot.

More teams were sent to the area where the tracks were located. At that time, information on where the snowmobiles were found was being withheld to ensure no other riders went into the area, possibly covering or contaminating any clues.

Snow, blustery winds and very low visibility had again challenged more than a dozen search teams scouring the Dutchman Flat area near Mt. Bachelor, hunting for Roger Rouse, who had been riding a gray and black (with yellow accents) 2004 Polaris 700 RMK and his son, Brian, who was riding a 1988 Yamaha Enticer.

Visibility was less than 20 feet at times, and those conditions prevented use of planes to hunt for the pair, who said they'd be home from their ride around 1 p.m. Sunday.

"Visibility is minimal, temperatures cold, it (the snow) is deep," said searcher Greg Rubin. "It's as deep as I've ever seen it."

The 13 teams in Tuesday's search, coordinated from a command post at the ski resort, focused on high-priority areas identified by family members. They included skiers, snowshoers, snowmobile riders and sno-cats, deputies said.

Deschutes County Sheriff's Search and Rescue asked all recreational users to stay out of the area for the time being. "This will help reduce the number of false clues (tracks etc.) that might otherwise appear," the deputies' statement said.

The SAR unit has received numerous calls from members of the public, offering to help, they said. Due to the difficult conditions in the search area, volunteers are being told they "must meet some very exacting standards," the statement said.

Snowmobile riders must be in excellent physical condition, with excellent equipment and snowmobiling skills, deputies said. The riders should be prepared for cross-country riding, and also should be equipped and prepared to possibly spend a night on their own. So they must have and know how to use compasses, maps, GPS units and items of that sort.

Backcountry skiers and snowshoers also must meet those requirements. Deputies said search conditions probably will require skiers or snowshoers to cut cross country and go up and down drainages. They, too, mist possess skills and gear for possibly spending one night in the field on their own. Casual cross-country skiers won't meet those requirements.

Members of the public who feel they meet the standards and want to assist should page Cpl. Neil Mackey at 693-6512. Those who call will be assessed for needed skills, a list will be established and volunteers notified if their services are needed.

The deputies stressed: Please don't respond to Mt. Bachelor at this time, if you want to assist. All civilian search efforts must be coordinated through Deschutes County Search and Rescue.

About 30 snowmobilers were involved in Monday's search, which went through the night for a second night.

Searchers were called out around 7:30 p.m. Sunday, advised the pair had not returned home from a ride in the area, about 20 miles southwest of Bend, said sheriff's Sgt. Marvin Combs.

According to family members, (they) know the area well and had cell phones and multi-frequency radios with them, Combs added.

The searchers at first called area snowmobile clubs, asking for experienced riders to help in the search, hampered by very snowy conditions.

Combs said the two men most likely drove off the trails, a common thing for experienced snowmobilers. The son's father in law said the two men have been snowmobiling in the area for many years and are experienced.

"Right now, all we can do is support the search teams any way we can," Don Hanson said.
© 2006 KTVZ of Oregon, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Missing snowmobilers found; only son survives
Father dies before rescue can be made
Searchers spent two days and nights scouring Dutchman Flat area near Mt. Bachelor for missing father-and-son snowmobilers.

Posted: 7:58 AM, Nov. 29, 2006
Last Updated: 8:04 AM, Nov. 29, 2006
By Barney Lerten,

Two snowmobiles and footprints in the deep snow led searchers to a Bend father and son, missing for two days in the cold, snowy woods near Mt. Bachelor, but only the son survived, authorities said Wednesday.

Around 12:20 p.m., searchers found the snowmobiles of Roger Rouse, 53, and Brian Rouse, 29, at the top of the Bridge Creek watershed, off the "No. 6 Trail" that goes around the back side of Tumalo Mountain, said sheriff's Lt. Shane Nelson.

Search teams followed two pairs of footprints in the snow that led from the area where the snowmobiles were found, Nelson said. Other teams were sent to the other end of the Bridge Creek drainage, to also search for the pair.

Around 3:30 p.m., the two men were found in the creek's drainage, about two miles west of the Tumalo falls trailhead and about 10 miles west of Bend.

Initially, deputies said both subjects were alive, suffering from hypothermia, and the father was unresponsive. But Nelson said it was later determined that Roger Rouse was dead. His son was alert and able to talk to search team members.

The Oregon Army National Guard's 1042nd Medical Company dispatched a Blackhawk helicopter to the scene and brought Brian Rouse to St. Charles Medical Center-Bend, where they arrived around 10:20 p.m. He was listed in serious condition.

Removal of Roger Rouse continued overnight, hampered by steep, heavily wooded terrain and the cold, snowy conditions, Nelson said. The helicopter was unable to transport his body due to weather and dangerous conditions.

Mackey said Tuesday night he'd yet to see the areas involved mapped out, but that the pair probably had walked about four (miles) from where they left their snowmobiles to the spot where they were found.

"I can tell you that from past experience, in limited visibility, it's very easy to get sucked down over the side, off of one of the main trails, and into the Bridge Creek drainage," the corporal said. He added that it appeared they were "following the drainage downhill toward what they felt was civilization."

Cheers went up at the command post upon word the two men had been located, Mackey said, adding that he strongly doubted either would have survived a third cold night in the area - the coldest so far this season.

Sheriff Les Stiles said Wednesday the recovery effort was delayed a day because searchers had been working "around the clock for nearly three days" and need time to rest, rehydrate and prepare to return to the very difficult weather and terrain conditions.

"We're not going to risk people who are exhausted to go back in where we are," Stiles said. "This is some tough terrain, with some tough challenges."

Rouse and son Brian Rouse, 29, were found late Tuesday afternoon, 1 ½ to 2 miles from where they'd left their snowmobiles, which were discovered a few hours earlier.

Late Tuesday night, an Army National Guard helicopter crew airlifted Brian Rose to St. Charles Medical Center-Bend, where he remained in fair condition Thursday.

The chopper crew "felt it was too dangerous to continue night operations, in bad terrain and potentially bad weather," which prompted a delay in the recovery effort for Roger Rouse, Stiles said.

The sheriff's noted the area has "a ton of downed timber and 60 to 80 inches of loose-packed snow" that makes travel very difficult and risky, whatever the means.

A lot of details about what happened are still being pieced together, but Stiles said, "It looks like they went off the trail into very deep, loose-packed snow."

"They were going in the right direction" on foot, he added, and had reached "about 1 ½ miles from the Tumalo (Falls) warming shelter." But the sheriff said they also were struggling in "one of the deepest snow packs this early in the year" that he's seen.

And while refusing to "Monday morning quarterback," Stiles said the fact they'd survived two nights in such difficult conditions shows "they did a number of things right."

A lesson for all, Stiles said, is "any time, winter or summer, you're heading into the back country," it's very important to have the right gear, including signaling devices - "not just a cell phone - batteries can die" and a whistle. "A GPS is great, as long as you carry extra batteries." Water also is important, as it can be hard to melt snow.


Missing Snowmobile Riders Located
Bridge Creek Drainage, November 28, 2006, 10:48 p.m.

BY: Lieutenant Shane Nelson

DECEASED: Roger Rouse, 53 years old, Bend resident
EVACUATED: Brian Rouse, 29 years old, Bend resident

On November 28, 2006 at approximately 12:21 p.m. search crews located the two snowmobiles belonging to Roger and Brian Rouse at the top of the Bridge Creek Watershed, off of the #6 Trail that goes around the back side of Tumalo Mountain.

Search teams then followed two pairs of foot tracks leading from the area where the snowmobiles were located. Additional teams were sent to the opposite end of the Bridge Creek Drainage to see if Roger and Brian Rouse could be located.

At approximately 3:30 p.m. search crews located Roger and Brian Rouse. They were in an area known as the Bridge Creek Drainage, which is approximately two miles west of the Tumalo Falls Trailhead, and approximately ten miles west of Bend.

A media release was sent out by the Sheriff’s Office at about 1730 hours that stated both subjects were found and suffering from varying stages of hypothermia. It was later determined that Roger Rouse was deceased and no further lifesaving efforts could be made. Brian Rouse was found to be suffering from various stages of hypothermia but able to talk to search team members.

The Oregon National Guard dispatched a Blackhawk Helicopter to the scene and airlifted Brian Rouse to St. Charles Medical Center arriving at approximately 10:20 p.m.

Evacuation of the deceased subject, Roger Rouse, is ongoing and is being hampered by the steep, heavily forested terrain in the area, along with the snow and weather conditions. The helicopter was unable to transport the deceased subject, Roger Rouse, due to weather and the dangerous conditions.

Deschutes County Sheriff Les Stiles, (541) 388-6659

Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office
63333 Highway 20 West, Bend, Oregon 97701


Roger Rouse Recovery
Bridge Creek Drainage, November 30, at approximately 2:00 p.m.
BY: Captain Marc Mills
On November 30, 2006, Deschutes County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue, assisted by Jefferson County/Camp Sherman Hasty Team, the US Forest Service, and City of Bend Water Department recovered Roger Rouse from the Bridge Creek Drainage area at 2:00 p.m.

The recovery teams consisted of about 30 search and rescue volunteers from Deschutes and Jefferson counties, US Forest Service, City of Bend Water Department and full time Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office employees.

The search and rescue recovery teams set out from the area at the end of Skyline Rd. and the bridge that crosses Tumalo Creek at about 8:00 a.m. The teams set out on a 4 ½ mile trek from this location. This was accomplished by snowmobile and snow shoe.

The teams then returned with Mr. Rouse, completing the mission at approximately 2:00 p.m.

Because of the treacherous terrain and ground conditions, Mt. Rescue Unit (MRU) members had to use special equipment, such as rope systems, a SKED (portable toboggan) and an AMBU sled (pulled behind a snowmobile) in order to safely complete the mission.

The weather conditions cooperated throughout this recovery mission, which was to the advantage of the recovery team. No team members were injured during the recovery of Roger Rouse.

Deschutes County Sheriff Les Stiles, (541) 388-6659

Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office
63333 Highway 20 West, Bend, Oregon 97701



What can be learned from this tragic event?

The primary purpose of these TraditionalMountaineering Experience Reports (and the American Alpine Club's Fifty Eight Annual Reports of Accidents in North American Mountaineering) is to aid in the prevention of similar tragic events.

We have not had an opportunity to interview any of the individuals directly involved in this sad event. Any preliminary observations we make below are based on official reports, on news reports, on current standard text books on backcountry travel and hypothermia and on the reported experiences of others who have become stranded and lost in snow storms. Many survived by using known techniques that can be learned by others; some died of exposure and hypothermia. Some survived with the loss of feet and fingers.

An in-depth interview of Brian Rouse and the Rouse family by Reporter Cindy Powers was published on Sunday, December 10, 2006, in The Bulletin in Bend Oregon. Additional information helpful to the community was published a few days later. We were interviewed personally for an hour for this second story by Ms. Powers.



What do we know now, and what would we like to know, to better understand what happened to these outdoorsmen?
Let us frame our questions around the Four Basic Responsibilities of all Outdoorsmen offered by

1. The Responsible Person
The Rouses had left an informal "Responsible Person" with the understanding that there should be a call to 911 if the father and son did not return as expected. We understand that the men planned to return home by noon that Sunday. Time was lost looking for their truck at the trail head and deciding to call 911. The first volunteer Search and Rescue call-out was made after dark at 7:30 PM according the sheriff's media release copied above. The Rouses were then seven hours overdue in a snow storm in familiar terrain not very far from the known trail head.

The outdoor adventurer should leave standardized detailed information to be given to the Sheriff's volunteer SAR Unit.

It is important to set a specific time to alert SAR at 911. Let SAR managers make the decision on when and how to act on the missing persons report.

2. The Ten Essential Systems
The second Responsibility is to be personally properly equipped for the adventure. We note that the Rouses did not have the required Essential clothing and equipment for their adventure that Sunday. (The Deschutes County Sheriff's official statement that "They did nothing wrong" is a legal finding pertaining to illegal acts. The Sheriff's Department does not go into "should-a would-a could-a analysis" according to Sheriff Les Stiles during a recent 30 minute interview with me.)

The weather was challenging and the snow storm was forecast to get worse. (See USFS Trail Tips below.) The so called "Ten Essential Systems" are season and weather dependent. They include the necessary clothing pieces to stay warm during an unexpected night out under the forecast weather and snow conditions and are easily worn and carried in a small daypack by each snow rider.

You can not buy the Ten Essential Systems in a "kit" at an outdoor store. The systems include the clothing worn and carried, sized to the individual person and designed to prevent the loss of heat from the body called hypothermia, the reported cause of death of Roger Rouse.

Traditional "Layers" based on the forecast weather are essential protection from hypothermia. These layers include -  1. a (non-cotton) wicking layer of light polypropylene, next to the skin, - 2. light layers of (non-cotton) loose fitting weather dependent insulating clothing of modern design that can be added or removed to avoid dangerous sweating and - 3. an outer layer of water proof-breathable hard shell clothing. Extra insulating layers to be worn while inactive and extra dry insulating gloves and hats are carried in the day pack. The thin light hard shell pants and jacket can be carried in the day pack until needed. These sophisticated layers are designed to move possible quarts of perspiration through the layers to the outside.

Note: Cotton fibers can hold 40 times the water weight than polypropylene fibers. Hydrophilic cotton clothing loses about 70% of its insulating value when it becomes wet. Hydrophobic wool or man made fibers loose little insulating value when wet. Layers are: wicking - light polypropylene material next to the skin, insulating - loosely fitting layers of pile, fleece and other patented thick materials that trap insulating air and lastly, a light thin outer breathable-waterproof - hard shell layer such as Gore-Tex. -Webmeister.

Essential high carbohydrate food bars and quarts (not pints) of water, wet wood fire starting tools and ability, an "ensolite" insulating pad to prevent conduction of essential body heat, a snow shovel, shelter from rain, snow and wind or the knowledge of how to build a shelter correctly, and other important items are included in the Ten Essential Systems.

The second Responsibility of the backcountry traveler is to wear and carry the seasonal weather dependant Ten Essential Systems.

3. The Ability to Navigate
The third Responsibility is the need to have map, compass and gps and the skills to Use Your Map, Compass and GPS Together. We understand the Rouses were very familiar with the snowmobile trails detailed on the Bend Oregon based USFS Snowmobile Map, made possible and widely distributed for free by funds provided by the Moon Country Snowmobile Club. This excellent map has the UTM Coordinate Grid superimposed over the information provided by the several USGS quad topo maps for the area covered.

The Rouses reportedly did have a GPS. They did a "Go-To" of four miles to the Tumalo Falls caretakers building near Tumalo Falls to determine the direction and distance "down hill" to the Falls gravel access road. The occupied homes near the Tumalo Bridge, are about three additional miles past the caretakers building!

We believe they may not have had with them, a copy of the actual free Snowmobile Map of the area beyond Mt. Bachelor. They may not have had the skills needed to find their with their GPS, their exact position on the map using the UTM Coordinate grid in NAD 27 (printed on the free map) and then, finding the location of and bearing to, Snowmobile Trail 6 where rescuers would have traveled back and forth during their searches.

A basic $99. GPS will give the user simple UTM coordinate grid numbers with which to pin-point their location on the map and to pin point the nearest trail where help might be found. (It should be noted that all of the FREE Deschutes National Forest Winter and Summer trail maps have accurate contours and the UTM Coordinate Grid.)

Please note that an altimeter is not a useful tool in the Rouses' situation, particularly if it is not re-adjusted often at known elevations. A compass will not help you find yourself in the woods without a map or with identifiable reference points obscured by trees and blowing snow. Also, the magnetic declination in Bend is 17 degrees, a distortion not taken into account by many people. One degree of compass declination error will put you 92 feet off in a mile, 10 degrees and you are off 920 feet and 17 degrees??

If your way to self rescue is not "clear and feasible", it is always best to stay in one place, mark the location, keep exercising to maintain body heat generated from use of large muscles and seek shelter from any wind and storm. Previous lost snow machine riders have stayed with the machines, used them for shelter, have used gasoline and parts of the machine to start a large fire and used the quarts of water and simple food bars stored in the machines to keep themselves hydrated and fueled with simple carbohydrates (candy and energy bars).

Deschutes County Sheriff Les Stiles suggests staying in one place, lighting up a big snag and pile of loose wood with a road flare, or setting the oldest snowmobile afire for warmth and a strong signal to rescuers! The Rouses chose to struggle many miles through heavy wet snow and braided streams rather than to dig in with their machines.

4. The Ability to Communicate
The fourth Responsibility is the ability to communicate with Rescuers. "According to family members, (they) know the area well and had cell phones and multi-frequency radios with them, (Sgt. Marvin) Combs added." in a Media Release set forth above. Note: It is not clear that the Rouses actually had these reported communications devices with them. (See below.)

It is not known if there were attempts to contact them by cell phone. The Mount Bachelor Resort has a cell phone tower high on the mountain. As we all know, cell phones are line of site communications. Were they in the shadow of Tumalo Mountain? That would focus the search.

It is important to keep your emergency cell phone off and to protect the battery from cold under your clothing. An emergency communications schedule, "every hour on the hour for five minutes" is good to have with your Responsible Person. Handy Talky radios have a miles long range and cost less than $50 for a pair - they are useful in keeping a group together. FRS radios are not a substitute for cell phones - 911 does not monitor any of the several FRS bands.

Note: Rescue personnel communicated using cell phones, at the actual rescue location, to their Command Center at the Mount Bachelor main parking lot as well as by Ham radios which utilized the Mount Bachelor summit repeater. We listened in south east Bend on our own 2 meter Amateur Radio Service (Ham) radios to this repeater for several hours. We monitored the emergency traffic as the rescue slowly progressed through the late night helicopter extraction and the release and return of some twenty snowshoe clad rescue personnel to the snowmobile trail head at Tumalo Falls two miles distant. The following weekend, we tested the 2 meter Ham radio and cell phone coverage on our own snowshoes near the Falls and made clear contacts with both phone and radio. Reported communications problems by the Sheriff's Search and Rescue mentioned in their Media Release above may be due to their use of an older government system used by the Forest Service. -Webmeister.

What might have happened if the snowmobile riders had been able to periodically communicate with their own Cell Phones?


What caused this tragedy?
The Rouses clearly did not fully follow the traditional Basic Responsibilities of the backcountry traveler.

1. The search callout did not occur until 7:30PM on Sunday evening, seven and a half hours after the men were missing. A reasonable time for the Responsible Person to call 911 might have been established by the men in advance as 3PM, considering the storm.

2. They were not prepared with the traditional Ten Essential Systems based on the forecast weather and the gathering storm.
The men were reportedly wearing non-breathable waterproof pants and coats "layered" over heavy absorbent cotton sox, cotton "thermal" underwear and cotton canvass clothing. This heavy cotton work clothing became wet from melted snow, actual immersion in water and sweating from trying to manhandle their snow machines through deep unconsolidated powder snow and through several streams. Cotton absorbs and retains 40 times more water than man made fibers. Wet cotton loses about 70% of its insulating value.

Traditional clothing layers are "wicking" - light polypropylene material next to the skin, "insulating" - layers of pile, fleece and other patented thick materials that hold insulating air and lastly, an outer breathable-waterproof - hard shell layer such as "Gore-Tex".

The men allowed themselves to become dehydrated and exhausted. Reportedly, they did not have much more than three pint bottles of water. Quarts of water are lost in sweating and heavy breathing. The blood becomes thick as dehydration advances and essential circulation is impaired. In the intermediate stage of hypothermia, blood is forced from the extremities into the core. The body reacts by excreting copious quantities of urine which must be replaced with sugar laced water and the person must be warmed immediately.

The men attempted to obtain water from a stream. This is dangerous in the winter and the worst happened, Brian Rouse slipped into the water, filling his boots and soaking his cotton pants.

The men tried to eat high protein jerky instead of candy bars. Protein does not restore essential muscle glycogen. The failure to re-supply the bodies stores of glycogen leads to the condition common in endurance runners, bicycle racers and mountaineers called "bonking". Low blood sugar contributes to a loss of body heat by affecting mental attitude and increasing fatigue.

They did not have the essential matches or lighters and fire starter such as Vaseline soaked cotton balls. They attempted to light sticks wet with gasoline from the snowmachine tanks by applying the spark from a spark plug wire, but the fire was out in a flash in the snow storm. (Reportedly, rescuers actually found matches in their clothing.) Had they had the essential gear and the ability to start a fire in a dead tree well, they might have been able to stay in one place, out of the wind until found.

The Rouse's failure to stop and make a shelter from the wind and blowing snow when it became too difficult to travel contributed to their hypothermia. Unconsolidated powder snow can be made to consolidate by repeatedly running a snow machine over a section of snow and waiting a short time for the chemical reactions of consolidation to occur. (Read More in our essays below on snow caves and snow camping.)

3. The men may not have had the navigation knowledge with map, compass and gps together, using the UTM Coordinate System, to have found Trail Six. When they first realized they could not return the way they had come due to the powder snow conditions, Trail Six may have been only a few hundred yards away. (Trail Six was heavily traveled during the search; groomers searched all Sunday night on all of the mapped trails.) The men chose to push foreword several miles down a difficult drainage over downed trees and deep drifted snow blown off the ridges, following an "outmoded concept of following a drainage down hill until you reach civilization". The men failed to stay in one place near their machines, creating a warm properly designed snow cave shelter from the storm with their shovel and snow machines.

4. The men seem not to have had personal cell phones or multi-band citizens radios to assist communications or they failed to guard the batteries from the cold. (Reportedly, the "handie talkie" radios were found in their truck at the Trail Head.)

The final "Sheriff's Informational Report" lists the gear found with the men. The gear was frozen together in a "small bag". It included a water bottle (presumably a pint) half full of frozen water, gloves and some miscellaneous clothing (not listed), a GPS (condition not reported), a Nokia cell phone (condition not reported), parachute cord, and a lighter (condition operable). The Sheriff's Report gives few specifics such as the time frame of initial notification and deployment of SAR personnel.

At an official SAR talk to the Nordic Club, the audience was told that no initial search of the Bend Watershed area was made due to the assertion by relatives that the Rouses would never enter this Restricted Area. The Rouses were finally found there after other areas had been searched for hours.

Hypothermia causes an insidious loss of mental and physical ability. Hypothermia can be avoided by personal choices and actions using simple information, training, proper gear, and knowledge gained through the experiences of others. Read now about Hypothermia.



A suggested minimum standard news advisory for all backcountry travelers

"We would like to take this opportunity to ask our visitors to the backcountry of Deschutes County to Plan for the Unexpected. Each person should dress for the forecast weather and take minimum extra clothing protection from a drop in temperature and possible rain or snow storm or an unexpected cold wet night out, insulation from the wet ground or snow, high carbohydrate snacks, two quarts of water or Gatorade, a map and compass and optional inexpensive GPS and the skills to fully use them together, and a charged cell phone and possibly an inexpensive SPOT-2 Satellite Communicator. Carry the traditional personal "Ten Essentials" in a day-pack sized for the season and the forecast weather.

Visitors are reminded to tell a Responsible Person where they are going, where they plan to park, when they will be back and to make sure that person understands that they are relied upon to call 911 at a certain agreed time if the backcountry traveler has not returned. If you become lost or stranded, mark your location, protect yourself from wind and cold and stay in place or move around your marked location to stay warm. Do not try to find your way until you become exhausted, or worse yet - wet. Wait for rescuers.



USFS Trail Tips for weather conditions similar to those of that Sunday, November 26, 2006

Seems this winter season is a little bit of sunshine and plenty of cloudy and interesting weather. It looks like more of the interesting weather is in store for this week with a forecast of snow mostly in the higher elevations and rain or rain/snow mix in the mid to lower elevations. We may see another 2 feet (or more) of new snow at the higher elevations by the weekend. This will continue to bring us the variable trail conditions that we have experienced this winter season. Watch the weather forecast closely and pick your trail days carefully.

Here are a few winter trail safety reminders to keep in mind during these periods of unsettled weather with moderate to heavy snowfall:

1. If heavy snowfall has been or is in the forecast, avoid going out if you’re not ready to deal with it. When it’s snowing or has been snowing more than 1 inch per hour with several inches of new snow you’re likely dealing with some challenging and “ugly” road, trail and snow conditions.
Conditions that may include:
• Hazardous driving conditions – very slick or unplowed roads and snow parks, poor visibility, traffic delays due to accidents, etc.
• Unmanageable snow conditions beyond the snow parks - deep or heavy snow making skiing, snowmobiling or snowshoeing difficult to impossible. Trail grooming is often behind schedule or not being done during heavy snowfall periods.
• Trail markers or junction signing snow covered and difficult to impossible to follow resulting in losing the trail. It may be snowing blowing so hard that the tracks you set heading in have been covered within minutes of setting them. Minimal to zero visibility only complicates the situation.
• Finding yourself in a deep snow situation where you are unable to climb up moderate to steep terrain to get out and essentially becoming seriously stuck. Snowmobilers are especially susceptible to getting “caught up” in these deep snow moments and head down a slope they are unable to climb back up, only to find themselves the objects of a search and rescue mission.

• Avalanche hazards can rapidly increase during unsettled weather. Do ongoing stability assessments and/or avoid suspect avalanche terrain. Keep in mind, there are avalanche safe routes even during extreme avalanche periods; be able to recognize and use these routes when necessary.

2. Always go prepared, especially during periods of deep snow and unsettled weather. Take with you essential emergency/survival gear. Also be sure to leave your travel plans with a reliable family member or friend and what to do should you not returned as planned. Remember: LOCATION - DURATION - RETURN!
--Chris Sabo, Deschutes National Forest Trails Specialist
Read this Deschutes National Forest Winter Trails Summary 01.10.06, Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Weekend Report!

Note: These Trail Tips are sent out about weekly and are printed, edited by Jim Witty, in The Bulletin and printed and archived on this Website. Read the current Tips and past years seasonal Tips to be better informed.--Webmeister.



"To provide information and instruction about world-wide basic to advanced alpine mountain climbing safety skills and gear, on and off trail hiking, scrambling and light and fast Leave No Trace backpacking techniques based on the foundation of an appreciation for the Stewardship of the Land, all illustrated through photographs and accounts of actual shared mountaineering adventures."

TraditionalMountaineering is founded on the premise that "He who knows naught, knows not that he knows naught", that exploring the hills and summitting peaks have dangers that are hidden to the un-informed and that these inherent risks can be in part, identified and mitigated by mentoring: information, training, wonderful gear, and knowledge gained through the experiences of others.

The value of TraditionalMountaineering to our Friends and Subscribers is the selectivity of the information we provide, and its relevance to introducing folks to informed hiking on the trail, exploring off the trail, mountain travel and Leave-no-Trace light-weight bivy and backpacking, technical travel over steep snow, rock and ice, technical glacier travel and a little technical rock climbing on the way to the summit. Whatever your capabilities and interests, there is a place for everyone in traditional alpine mountaineering.




Mountain climbing has inherent dangers that can, only in part, be mitigated

Read more . . .
FREE Clinic on Real Survival Strategies and Staying Found with Map, Compass and GPS together
What essentials do I carry in my own lightweight winter day pack?
What clothing do you wear for Light and Fast winter mountaineering?
What is the best traditional alpine mountaineering summit pack?
What does Steve House wear for light and fast climbing?  
Gear and clothing used by Steve House and Vince Anderson on Nanga Parbat
Why are "snowcaves" dangerous?
Why are "Space Blankets" dangerous?
Why are "Emergency Kits" dangerous?
How can you avoid Hypothermia?
Missing climbers on Mount Hood, one dies of exposure, two believed killed in fall
OpEd: Yuppie 911 devices can take the "search" out of Search and Rescue 
OpEd, Cell phones critical in the wilderness
Missing California family found, dad dies from exposure and hypothermia
Missing man survives two weeks trapped in snow-covered car
Missing snowmobile riders found, Roger Rouse dies from hypothermia
Olympic Champion Rulon Gardner lost on snowmobile!
Lost Olympic hockey player looses feet to cold injury

Expert skier lost five days near resort in North Cascades without map, compass, gps or cell phone
Mount Hood - The Episcopal School Tragedy
Mount Hood - experienced climbers rescued from snow cave
How can you learn the skills of snow camping?   Prospectus

Lost and Found
Rescue charges in traditional alpine mountaineering
Governor establishes a Search and Rescue Task Force
Oregon Search and Rescue Statutes
Lost hiker in Oregon backcountry found with heat-sensing device in airplane
HB2509 mandates electronic locator beacons on Mt. Hood - climbers' views
Oregon HB 2509 as approved on March 28, 2007
Three stranded climbers wait out a storm on Mt. Hood
Missing California family found, dad dies from exposure and hypothermia
Missing man survives two weeks trapped in snow-covered car
Missing snowmobile riders found, Roger Rouse dies from hypothermia
Longacre Expeditions teen group rescued from the snowdrifts above Todd Lake
Lost climber hikes 6.5 miles from South Sister Trail to Elk Lake
Hiking couple lost three nights in San Jacinto Wilderness find abandoned gear
Expert skier lost five days in North Cascades without Essentials, map and compass
Climber disappears on the steep snow slopes of Mount McLaughlin
Hiker lost five days in freezing weather on Mount Hood
Professor and son elude search and rescue volunteers
Found person becomes lost and eludes rescuers for five days
Teens, lost on South Sister, use cell phone with Search and Rescue
Lost man walks 27 miles to the highway from Elk Lake Oregon
Snowboarder Found After Week in Wilderness
Searchers rescue hiker at Smith Rock, find lost climbers on North Sister
Girl Found In Lane County After Lost On Hiking Trip
Search and rescue finds young girls lost from family group
Portland athlete lost on Mt. Hood
Rescues after the recent snows
Novice couple lost in the woods
Broken Top remains confirmed as missing climber
Ollalie Trail - OSU Trip - Lost, No Map, Inadequate Clothing

 Your Essential Light Day Pack
What are the new Ten Essential Systems?
What does experience tell us about Light and Fast climbing?
What is the best traditional alpine mountaineering summit pack?
What is Light and Fast alpine climbing?
What do you carry in your day pack?      Photos?    
What do you carry in your winter day pack?       Photos?    
What should I know about "space blankets"?
Where can I get a personal and a group first aid kit?      Photos?

 Carboration and Hydration
Is running the Western States 100 part of "traditional mountaineering"?
What's wrong with GORP?    Answers to the quiz!
Why do I need to count carbohydrate calories?
What should I know about having a big freeze-dried dinner?
What about carbo-ration and fluid replacement during traditional alpine climbing?   4 pages in pdf  
What should I eat before a day of alpine climbing?

  About Alpine Mountaineering:
  The Sport of Alpine Mountaineering
  Climbing Together
  Following the Leader
  The Mountaineers' Rope
  Basic Responsibilities       Cuatro Responsabiliades Basicas de Quienes Salen al Campo
  The Ten Essentials         Los Diez Sistemas Esenciales

  Our Leader's Guidelines:
  Our Volunteer Leader Guidelines
  Sign-in Agreements, Waivers and Prospectus     This pdf form will need to be signed by you at the trail head
  Sample Prospectus    Make sure every leader tells you what the group is going to do; print a copy for your "responsible person"
  Participant Information Form    This pdf form can be printed and mailed or handed to the Leader if requested or required
  Emergency and Incident Report Form    Copy and print this form. Carry two copies with your Essentials 
  Participant and Group First Aid Kit   
Print this form. Make up your own first aid essentials (kits) 

  About our World Wide Website:

  Map, Compass and GPS
Map, compass and GPS navigation training Noodle in The Badlands
BLM guidelines for Geocaching on public lands
Geocaching on Federal Forest Lands
OpEd - Geocaching should not be banned in the Badlands
Winter hiking in The Badlands WSA just east of Bend
Searching for the perfect gift
Geocaching: What's the cache?
Geocaching into the Canyon of the Deschutes
Can you catch the geocache?
Z21 covers Geocaching
Tour The Badlands with ONDA 
The art of not getting lost
Geocaching: the thrill of the hunt!
GPS in the news
A GPS and other outdoor gadgets make prized gifts
Wanna play?  Maps show you the way
Cooking the "navigation noodle"