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HikeUp

2017-02-04 Fatality near Islip Saddle - wtf happened?

http://www.dailynews.com/general-...saddle-in-angeles-national-forest

Quote:
By Brian Day, San Gabriel Valley Tribune

Posted: 02/04/17, 3:51 PM PST | Updated: 2 hrs ago
0 Comments
Officials rescued four hikers, and recovered the body of a fifth, after they fell down an ice chute while hiking near Islip Saddle in the Angeles National Forest on Saturday.

ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST >> A weekend excursion turned tragic Saturday when five people hiking in the Angeles National Forest north of the San Gabriel Valley fell down an ice chute, killing one and injuring four, authorities said.

The incident was first reported about 11:10 a.m. Saturday near Islip Saddle, along Angeles Crest Highway, just west of San Gabriel Canyon Road, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Thomas Reid said.

Ventura County search and rescue officials, who happened to be training nearby, were the first to respond to help. They were soon joined by their counterparts from Los Angeles County sheriff’s and fire departments in the rescue effort.

The response was hindered by a landslide on San Gabriel Canyon Road, requiring officials to circumvent it and access the scene via Angeles Crest Highway.

One of the hikers was pronounced dead at the scene, Reid said.

Three of the hikers were flown to hospitals for treatment in unknown condition, while anther suffered minor or no injuries, Reid said.

The four surviving victims were described as three men and a woman in their 60s, Reid said. A description of the victim who died was not immediately available.
Huff and Puff

A bit more information from KTLA 5:

http://ktla.com/2017/02/04/at-lea...own-ice-chute-near-angeles-crest/

Quote:
A group of 10 hikers in their 50s and 60s were traversing a path called the Little Jimmy Trail at an elevation of about 7,000 feet when cold, snowy conditions caused half the party to fall down a 70-degree slope, according to Michael Granek, a helicopter pilot with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
HikeUp

I think this event occurred on the PCT between Islip Saddle and Little Jimmy Campground. The trail traverses a steep slope on the north side of Mt. Islip.

Back in May of 2010, I started off hiking up the PCT from Islip Saddle eastward towards Little Jimmy. It's May, but I had my microspikes.  As soon as I was in the shade on the north side of Mt. Islip I ran into to this...


I put these on...


I made it about 5 steps further when I decided to go back to the car and climb Mt. Williamson instead.
Huff and Puff

HikeUp wrote:

I made it about 5 steps further when I decided to go back to the car and climb Mt. Williamson instead.


"The better part of valor is discretion" from Shakespeare's Henry IV

also

He who hikes and turns away, lives to hike another day.

RV

You guys are SOOOOO right.  I had a bad accident in this very spot back in May, 2003.  HikeUp, the slope looked exactly like it looks in your picture.  Even though I did not have micro spikes, crampons, an ice axe or any other means of self arrest, I continued on. Just STUPID. When the inevitable slip happened, I bounced and somersaulted down the slope with no chance at all of stopping the fall.  I ended up at the bottom of the canyon right next to the Angeles Crest Highway.  Somehow I survived (although severely injured); most times you would not.

If anyone reading this forum lacks the knowledge/training to hike on snow and ice, please turn around when you encounter it.  Hiking is fun.  So is getting home.
Tom Kenney

Also, be aware of the potential for conditions to quickly change.  I once had an incident on East Twin where daytime temps were mid 70s F, snow moderately soft and perfect for climbing.  I overstayed on the summit, and by the time I began to descend the snow had a boilerplate crust.  I slipped twice and grabbed a tree each time, then spent 3 hrs 'front-pointing' sans crampons to get back to the saddle, where I spent the night next to a nice toasty fire.  Not long after this, I added snow/ice techniques to my climbing repertoire.

EDIT::  Here's the TR:  http://www.summitpost.org/alpine-slide/170460
Slowest_Hiker

We've turned back from a PCT trip to Little Jimmy due to snow, too.  The fire road works great for non-adrenaline junkies.  Nice and wide.
Hikin_Jim

So, I kind of get one person slipping and falling, but multiple people?  What the heck?  Maybe they were trying their own rescue mission after the first slip?

Microspikes are great on a mostly level trail where you just need additional traction.  They can however pull off if you're side hilling in steep terrain.

HJ
mattmaxon

Hikin_Jim wrote:
 They can however pull off if you're side hilling in steep terrain.HJ


I agree with Jim on this. The take away from this and the plethora of incidents is the san gabriels can be dangerous in winter.

Snow - melt - freeze - melt - freeze - melt on and on covered with snow makes for very dangerous ice conditions prone to avalanches

This is no joke people  Shocked
HikeUp

I find the big limit to microspikes is that the pointy bits just don't sink in very far no matter how overweight I am. There is just too much give in the system (flexible boots, spikes rotate, rubber band system flexes, etc.). This is the main reason they are terrible for sidehilling. If I've had to cross snow/ice fields on a sidehill, I will spend all my time carving steps so that each footstep is on a flat spot. 24 hours later I am across the field!
Tom Kenney

mattmaxon wrote:

Snow - melt - freeze - melt - freeze - melt on and on covered with snow makes for very dangerous ice conditions prone to avalanches

This is no joke people  Shocked


My brother and I did Baden-Powell in Feb of 2004.  We wanted to climb one of the gullies southeast of the PCT.  Had crampons and axes, etc.  We got a couple hundred feet above the Big Horn Mine road and discovered conditions like Ellen described...crappy, crusty ice over boilerplate snow.  We bailed and took the trail instead.

The images below are from a bike ride my brother and I took 31-MAY-2005, up Big Rock Creek and down Manzanita Trail.  Area is basically the north side base of Baden-Powell.  Shown is the 'leftovers' of a big avalanche.  First image shows the snow remaining in the creekbed next to the road.  Second image shows where the Manzanita Trail crosses the gully above the road but below CA-2.  In the second image, that's a 'conglomerate' of snow, scree, dirt, trees and bushes, etc.  Also note the dead lodgepole pine foreground.  Lodgepoles don't grow here at 6000 ft, the approx elev of this site.



mattmaxon

Kahtoola doesn't recommend Microspike for anything but good trails. My guess from the chart Baldy Bowl would require K•10 crampons

Ed

This is one of the best discussions of snow conditions, accidents and  traction in Southern California mountains I've seen.  Nobody pointing fingers, people sharing experiences, thoughtful discussion.

My personal opinion is that crampons today tend to be over-engineered for ordinary snow climbing.  After I lost my old 1970's Salewa and SMC crampons in the 2003 Cedar Fire, I bought a pair of Black Diamond Contact Strap On's, which everybody seems to have.  They are advertised as being general-purpose mountaineering crampons, but have aggressive front points which are more likely to cause an accident than be of much use in ordinary snow climbing.  On the other hand, they don't have side points on the front piece, which can have considerable value on traverses, or side-stepping up and down steep slopes.  I bought a pair of Kahtoola K10's recently, but have not yet used them.
whatmeworry

Interesting to read people's comments. A thoughtful discussion  Shocked

Re: Equipment and its proper use.  I think there are several key items for consideration once you get beyond the microspike type traction devices.  Most of the more aggressive 10-point hiking crampons still demand the user employ proper crampon techniques for the conditions and terrain. Side hill traverses can be dicey on any crampons without proper technique.

Non-technical mountaineering is still mountaineering and regularly demands good French/flat-footed crampon skills - particularly if someone is using boots without rigid soles.  Many times people get away with sloppy technique, but sometimes it really matters. Steel vs. aluminum is certainly debatable for Baldy or similar SoCal use.

IMHO safe travel also requires the user to move "in balance" and with proper ice axe technique.  Again, my opinion only, but if conditions warrant 10-point (or simliar) crampons, an ice axe is your other "must have" equipment, not trekking poles.
Hayduke

HikeUp wrote:
I think this event occurred on the PCT between Islip Saddle and Little Jimmy Campground. The trail traverses a steep slope on the north side of Mt. Islip.

Back in May of 2010, I started off hiking up the PCT from Islip Saddle eastward towards Little Jimmy. It's May, but I had my microspikes.  As soon as I was in the shade on the north side of Mt. Islip I ran into to this...


I put these on...


I made it about 5 steps further when I decided to go back to the car and climb Mt. Williamson instead.

I've found several of the chutes on the west side of Williamson to be pretty nasty, is it safer going up from Islip Saddle?
HikeUp

Quote:
I've found several of the chutes on the west side of Williamson to be pretty nasty, is it safer going up from Islip Saddle?

Hayduke, I went up from Islip Saddle and at the time there were a few patches of easy to cross snow until the trail starts switchbacking up towards the main ridge. Whenever this part of the trail crossed a N-NE facing slope there were big patches of snow that I didn't want to cross so I went straight up the hill where there wasn't snow.

So it was much safer than what you describe on the other side.

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