[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Dr John Lowder, Was [pct-l] Re: ice axe

I remember reading about John's misfortune on this list a few years 
ago.  If I remember correctly, that year was an exceptionally light 
snow year, which would have made it completely possible to cross the 
Sierras in Mid-June with no axe.  

I also remember someone posting a newspaper article about his 
accident which mentioned all of his injuries.  The only injuries I 
remember reading about were broken bones and usual falling-type 
injuries.  There was no mention of his hands being shredded (which is 
typical of one slipping on snow/ice with no axe).  The article also 
mentioned nothing about poor judgement or ice axes.  

In fact, the article indicated that John was quite the outdoors bad-
ass and must have been tough as hell to have fallen as far as he did, 
sustain broken bones (an arm, a leg, and ribs, i think) and still 
have the sense of presence and determination to locate and unpack his 
sleeping bag and get inside of it before nightfall.

It is my opinion that John probably fell just because he took a 
misstep and that it had nothing to do with snow or ice axes.  I 
actually remember the article talking of the possibility that he 
tripped over a rock or root.

I have been in the sierras in late august and needed an ice axe.  I 
was unable to cross Dick's Pass near Tahoe in 1998.  Other who were 
traveling in the opposite direction were able to make it over without 
an axe, but I was not.  I tried to walk on the steep snow and use 
make-shift tools, but I felt exposed and unsafe so I turned back 
countless times.  This just goes to show that those who have posted 
about the ice axe being an individual choice are correct.  It all 
depends on a lot of different factors, including:
- amount of snowfall during the winter
- personal experience with:
   a. traveling in snow
   b. orienteering and trail-finding
   c. traveling on the PCT
- other equipment (ie: boots vs shoes, hiking poles, etc)
- time of year/pace/schedule (ie: fast hikers will arrive b4 snowmelt)
- traveling alone or with others
- etc 
- etc

bottom line for me: if you don't know what you are getting into(ie: 
never hiked in the sierras), then be on the safe side. 


> At 11:22 PM 2/22/02, Reynolds, WT wrote:
> >I find it incredible that an experienced backpacker like John 
Lowder didn't
> >have an axe. My understanding is that only a fool would attempt 
the Sierra
> >in mid-June without an axe. Everybody has said that John was no 
fool. Isn't
> >it likely that it as ripped from his hand during the fall and not 
> I wasn't there, so I can't say for sure.
> I recall he was with a group, and many of the hikers were in 
> I don't recall anyone correcting the report that he didn't have an 
axe. (I 
> searched the list archives also.....)
> It was 3 years ago and my memory is not perfect, but I recall a 
> conversation with a thru hiker who was with him on the attempt over 
> Forrester pass  and recall being told that he had hiking poles 
instead of 
> an ice axe.
> In short, no I don't think it is likely.
> --
> Brick Robbins                       mailto:brick@fastpack.com
> _______________________________________________
> PCT-L mailing list
> PCT-L@mailman.backcountry.net
> http://mailman.backcountry.net/mailman/listinfo/pct-l
> <br>

This E-Mail was sent with Webmail from http://www.echostation.com.
However, Echo Station, NovaTech Web Services, or any other affiliated
company take no responsibility for the content or appropriateness of
any email sent utilizing this service.