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Outward Bound - 1971, hypothermia claims two

"I just wanted to live."
The Geneva Times
September 23, 1971

"I just wanted to live. I kept thinking of home and my parents and all the people I love. I wouldn't allow myself to die."

But despite her efforts, two of Pamela Sullivan's companions perished while on a survival training exercise in the, rugged Three Sisters Wilderness of Central Oregon early this month.

Pamela, 18, gave a written statement on her ordeal shortly after being rescued, to officials of Outward Bound, sponsor of the exercise.

The statement, released Wednesday, told of a harrowing struggle during the first week of September and of how Joyce Howden, 21, Fall Creek, Ore., and Lorene LaRhette, 17, of Sudbury, Mass., died of
hypothermia—lowering of the body temperature—in the snow-covered Three Sisters Mountains.

"Halfway up the ridge, Joyce could no longer make it," Pamela's statement said. "We headed back for the shelter. Then couldn't find it. We dropped our packs, took our sleeping bags and headed for trees. Joyce just
couldn't make it. I pulled and pushed, but she couldn't get to the trees. Also, she was losing her sight and hearing and kept asking us where we were when we were only a few feet away."

"At this time Lorene went for help. "I wrapped Joyce in all three wet sleeping bags and liners. Then I layed over her with my poncho. Shortly after this she began breathing hard, lost total awareness, went delirious and
in about 10 minutes stopped breathing". "I tried mouth to mouth resuscitation, but no good".

After this I stayed around camp maybe five minutes, then I went after Lorene, following her tracks in the snow. I finally caught up with her about 6 pm. She had sacked out near a lake with her poncho on".

"We packed into some trees. Then I found out she had lost the map and compass. We huddled together trying to create warmth ... Lorene kept saying she just couldn't move. As we talked more, her speech kept
getting slurred. I put my wool cap on her, layed myself on her and tried to keep her coherent".

"Her breath kept getting more labored. I kept yelling her name in her ear but she didn't answer. Her eyes were wide open. After about two hours her breathing stopped altogether. I tried artificial resuscitation and chest
massage. It did no good."

"I used her body warmth and stayed there 'til Friday mornng."

On Friday morning Pamela left Lorene's body in the snow and followed their tracks back to the original camp, arriving that afternoon.

"Now the weather was beautiful and clear," she said. 'I was very tired and cold so I took my clothes off and layed in the sun.

The next day was Saturday (Sept. 4). I got some honey and ate it... I layed down to sleep ... When I woke up Vern (Vern Bush, an Outward Bound instructor) found me and we hiked out.

Evaluating her companions' efforts, Pamela said: "Joyce stayed pretty together. She never got too depressed, but she never fully realized the situation."

"Lorene was really scared and kept yelling: 'This-weather!'. By Wednesday she was pretty depressed and stopped eating. By Thursday she was pretty much giving up.

"Me—I just wanted to live."

The three girls were a subgroup of young women enrolled in Northwest Outward Bound, a Eugene-based school which trains young people in outdoor skills.

For two weeks in August they were trained in the wilderness by eight instructors. Then they divided into small teams.

Without instructors, the teams were to cross the snow-covered mountains and rendezvous on August 26, 1971, near Chambers Lakes east of Eugene.

It was to have been their graduation exercise.
Transcribed from original documents that preceded the digital age by Robert Speik, in 2013



What can be learned from this tragic event?

Times have changed!

Ordinary cell phone coverage has improved, year by year, to the time of this writing in 2012 - see below for "The Rest of the Story". Check your own cell coverage in your favorite backcountry areas. Much of the high desert and the Three Sisters Wilderness is covered by Verizon using CDMA code. The cell phones from other (urban) providers are not able to "see" CDMA towers and will not connect.

Cell communication equipment used by many Providers is located on the top of Mt. Bachelor. If you can see the summit, you should have good cell phone communications. If you are in a hollow or behind a ridge, just move a few feet! However, without contact with other towers, a geographic location can not be triangulated for 911 use and an accurate location can not be fixed.

The one personal cell phone carried by the three men was almost too low on battery power to support talk or text. Although not covered in the SAR report, we assume that this phone was able to ping only the tower array at the top of Mt. Bachelor and no other towers to enable the required triangulation from two or more towers to provide the FCC required geographic Coordinants to find him on a topo map. We believe that a second Verizon tower covers the Green Lakes area. A good cell phone signal with the right Provider can take the Search out of Search and Rescue.

Each person in a group should carry their own simple personal cell phone.

The rest of the story

Deschutes County Sheriffs Search and Rescue Volunteer Coordinator Al Hornish, a 12 year veteran of DCSAR, stated the following in an interview published on January 26, 2012 in the Bend Oregon Source Weekly: "We have grown a lot over the past decade. The nature of missions has changed as well." "There are more Rescues and less Searches, mostly because of the better technology available." Read More. --Robert Speik, January 26, 2012.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010, or nearly four months since my fall off Mount Temple. After so much time, there is much to dwell on. The negatives: the pain of so many fractures, the sleeplessness, the drugs and the messed up things they do to you. It’s easy to get stuck in the negative; yet some part of me is drawn there by some morbid fascination.

How big am I then? Not very. I made a mistake, a pretty small mistake. Or more honestly, I made a series of pretty small mistakes. I almost died for these transgressions. I would have died if it had not been for a cell phone and the chain of events it was able to put into motion. (I’ve owned a cell phone for barely six years.) I might not have died that very day, March 25, 2010, but from where we were, we were a long, long way from the medical care my injuries demanded: a trained trauma surgeon in an Emergency Room. Perhaps I would have lasted one night. Maybe not. It changes my perspective about what a day means. Carpe diem no longer seems some frat-boy cry to party. Today, means everything. --Steve House


Map, compass and GPS together

Back country travelers should carry a base plate declination adjustable compass costing $25.00 a $7.00 topo map annotated with the UTM Geographic Coordinant Grid and simple current model Garmin GPS costing as little as $100.00.. A stranded person can take the search out of SAR by simply reading the UTM Geographic Coordinants to the Incident Commander over the cell phone. Consider a $100.00  SPOT-2 Satellite Messenger if cell phone towers may not cover the area you plan to explore.

Read below for some basic suggestions about how to Be Prepared in 2012. Basic Responsibilities and the Ten Essential Systems.

Google each one of these three search phrases:    Best Compass for backcountry     Best topo maps for backcountry     Best GPS for backcountry use    Best cell phone for backcountry use

Millions of ordinary people world wide, use a common $100.00 hand held Garmin eTrex GPS with a topomap and color screen, for geocaching, hiking, hunting, cross country skiing, etc. Most GPS receivers have at least 14 hours of continuous life on two new batteries. Two extra AA batteries can be carried in a warm pants pocket to change out batteries weakened by cold. Lithium batteries withstand the cold much better than "regular" AA batteries.

Here are some Basic suggestions for all backcountry travelers

1. Practice the Four Basic Responsibilities of the Backcountry Traveler. They work!  Basic Responsibilities

2. Carry the new Ten Essential Systems, sized for the forecast weather and the adventure in a light day pack. This includes a map, compass and GPS and the skills to use them. In the winter, this includes enough extra insulation and waterproof clothing to keep you dry and warm if you become stranded. In snow, you must have a shovel and insulating pad and the skills to make a shelter in the snow to avoid hypothermia and frost bite damage. It works!  Ten Essential Systems

3. Carry your fully charged digital cell phone and periodically check where it can communicate with any cell towers to assist authorities to triangulate your position from cell tower pings. (Most cell providers do not use internal cell phone GPS radio signals to locate customers under FCC E911 regulations - they use triangulation). Cold disables batteries. If the weather is cold, carry the cell phone in a pants pocket near the femoral artery. Report your UTM NAD27 coordinates, your condition, the conditions where you are and discuss your plans with SAR.  Ordinary Cell Phones   If you are adventurous and often may be out of cell tower range, carry a $100.00 SPOT.  SPOT-2 Satellite Messenger

4. Always stay found on your topo map and be aware of major land features. If visibility starts to wane, reconfirm your bearings with your map, compass and GPS and quickly return to a known location. A GPS is the only practical way for a trained individual to navigate in a whiteout or blowing snow.  Lost Mt Hood Climbers

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 Oregon to Plan for the unexpected. Each person should dress for the forecast weather and take minimum extra clothing to provide protection from a drop in temperature and possible rain or snow storm or an unexpected cold wet night out. Each person should carry high carbohydrate snacks, two quarts of water or Gatorade, a topo map and declination adjusted base plate compass and an optional inexpensive GPS (and the skills to use them together). Each person who has a cell phone should carry their ordinary charged cell phone (from a service provider that has the best local backcountry coverage). An inexpensive SPOT-2 GPS Satellite Communicator is a good additional option for some. Each person should carry their selected items from the new 'Ten Essentials Systems' in a day pack sized for the individual, the trip, 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 time if the backcountry traveler has not returned. Call 911 as soon as you become lost or stranded. You will not be charged. Do not try to find your way until you are benighted, exhausted, or worse yet - wet. Your ordinary cell phone call to 911 can take the 'Search' out of Search and Rescue."


"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 . . .
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Lost hiker rescued near Horse Lake by SAR
Lost Mt. Bachelor skier rescued at Nordic shelter
FCC requirements for providing mobile phone geographic locations
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Climber dies in forecast storm on Mt. Rainier
The Episcopal School Tragedy
SPOT Satellite Messenger "PLB" reviewed and recommended
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Why is the GSM digital cell phone best for backcountry travel and mountaineering?
How do GSM mobile phones assist mountaineering and backcountry rescues?
FREE Clinic on Real Survival Strategies and Staying Found with Map, Compass and GPS together
Two climbers become lost descending Mt. Hood's standard South Side Route
What do you carry in your winter day and summit pack?
Why are "snowcaves" dangerous?
Why are "Space Blankets" dangerous?
Why are "Emergency Kits" dangerous?
How can you avoid Hypothermia?
Final Report to the American Alpine Club on the loss of three climbers on Mount Hood in December 2006
Missing climbers on Mount Hood, one dies of exposure, two believed killed in fall
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
Lost hiker rescued near Horse Lake by SAR
How can I prevent, recognize and treat Hypothermia?
Op-Ed: Prepare for the worst before setting out in the winter
Prineville hunter lost 4 winter days and 3 nights in the Ochoco National Forest
Several hikers lost near Sisters, rescued by SAR
Snowshoer, "lost" near Wanoga snowpark, rescued by SAR
"Be Prepared" to be stranded on winter forest roads in Oregon
Several drivers become stranded on Oregon winter forest roads, led their new GPS' "fastest way" setting
Gear grist, an article written for The Mountaineer, the monthly newsletter of The Mountaineers
Robert Speik writes: "Use your digital cell in the backcountry" for The Mountaineer
Teen girls become lost overnight returning from hike to Moraine Lake
Snowboarder lost overnight near Mount Bachelor, rescued by SAR 
Woman leaves car stuck in snow near Klamath Falls, dies from exposure
Man rescued from crevasse just off South Sister climber's trail
Climbing South Sister: A Prospectus and a Labor Day near disaster
Trail runner survives fall on ice with cell phone call
Once again, hypothermia kills stranded Oregon driver
Lessons learned from the latest lost Mt. Hood climbers
Lessons learned from the latest lost Christmas tree hunters
New rescue services for all American Alpine Club Members
OpEd: Oregon requires electronic communications in the backcountry
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
Three hikers and a dog rescued on Mt. Hood
Motorist stuck in snow on backcountry Road 18, phones 911 for rescue
Snow stranded Utah couple leave car and die from hypothermia
Death on Mt. Hood - What happened to the three North Face climbers? 
Two climbers become lost descending 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
Lost snowmobile riders found, one deceased from hypothermia
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 becoming 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
Search called off for missing climber Corwin Osborn
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"