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[at-l] Summit weather stories

You asked for a summit weather story.   You don't really want to read this,
it's not exciting, it's tragic. It's a first hand account by a hiker named
Ready Eddie on the death of Peter Busher.  The state of the victim,
incoherence, wandering in random directions etc. are classic symptoms of

"Alas, I did not truly get to meet Pete, but it was obvious from those I
talked to at Madison Hut he had made an impact on everyone he hiked with
along the trail.

I was the last hiker going north from Lakes to Madison that day, and came
across Pete on the side of the Gulfside Trail just after it heads down for
the final stretch to the hut. He was standing without a pack beside the
trail waving his poles at me. As I approached he went down to all fours.
When I reached him it was quickly obvious he was in serious trouble. I could
see the red contusion under his eye, but more importantly given the weather
conditions that day was that he was to the 5 martini stage (presumably from
exposure) and could not crawl, let alone stand up and walk, back onto the
trail. He could talk, but was no longer lucid. I dropped my pack and ran the
1/4 mile down to the hut, which would have been visible from there in clear
weather, for help.

I learned later that someone, presumable Pete, called down to Dodge Hall at
Pinkham on his cell phone and requested rescue. But the connection was not
good, and he said someone was coming down the trail, the rescue party had
arrived, and hung up. Perhaps that was why he was waving his poles at me.

Six volunteers got suited up and along with one of the hut crew went on
rescue. When they reached him they reported on the radio he was still
conscious, but they could only get him to respond with his name. At first I
had hope he was going to make it, but they radioed a while later that they
were giving him CPR.

>From what I can piece together from other hikers, I think he had gone about
1/3 of the way south toward Lake of the Clouds hut to Edmonds Col. before
deciding to give up and seek shelter. He had passed and talked to many of
the hikers heading north. One account says he related talking to and hiking
with a young woman, heading down toward a campsite for a time. Perhaps he
was heading for the Perch shelter from Edmonds Col., and noticed he was
backtracking halfway to Madison anyway, so decided to go back all the way to
the hut. Another hiker relates he changed direction a few times, undecided
as to whether going forward or back was the best strategy. The hiker in
front of me says he finally turned around for good when he passed and talked
to him, and I suspect he progressed back toward Madison walking the trail
between the two of us for a couple hours. Everyone who talked to him
indicated his progress was slow but steady, and he seemed normal and was in
good spirits.

I think that last trek back up to get back around Mt. Adams combined with
fighting the slowly worsening weather conditions just exhausted him. I have
been in a couple hurricanes and sail, and I would say the winds on that
ridge were a steady 50-60 MPH, with long gusts up to 70-80 Mph. My fingers
became numb as the temperature dropped down into the low 30's that last
hour. Ice was not a problem, but the occasional volley of sleet really
stung. He may have fallen and hit his head again, but if so it was still the
wind, rain, and cold that prevented him from recovering and continuing on.
His previous injuries and medical conditions would not have helped any
either. He was experienced and well equipped - the rescue team said that
under his rain shell his jacket was still relatively dry.

I did not truly get to meet Pete. Given what everyone told me about him and
the people he touched in his life, I will always regret that.

Peter (aka Harley) died doing what he loved in a placed he told me was the
most beautiful he had seen along the AT. May he rest in peace."

----- Original Message -----
From: "Jan Leitschuh" <janl2@mindspring.com>
To: <greyowl@rcn.com>; "AT-List" <at-l@mailman.backcountry.net>
Sent: Wednesday, October 09, 2002 3:36 PM
Subject: Re: [at-l] Katahdin Question

Thanks, Grey Owl.
In addition, I would love to hear some basic "summit weather" stories. Maybe
it's the drizzle today...
Still want to know about outerwear too.