High Altitude Navigation

Discussion in 'General Fitness' started by Andyp, Mar 10, 2004.

  1. Andyp

    Andyp Guest

    Just been reading a book about the events of May1996 when
    several people died in a storm on Everest and the way in
    which returning people were wandering around trying to find
    their tents on the South Col after coming to the bottom of
    the fixed ropes down from the summit ridge and also a
    potential rescuer unable to find the bottom of the ropes
    from the tents. Can anyone shed any light as to why basic
    navigation techniques like compass and GPS wouldn't get
    used? All they needed was a bearing to walk on for a few
    hundred metres.
     
    Tags:


  2. Given that there are a lot of "commercial" trips to the mountains nowadays,
    would many - or any - of the "clients" know how to use them?!
    "AndyP" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > Just been reading a book about the events of May1996 when
    > several people died in a storm on Everest and the way in
    > which returning people were wandering around trying to
    > find their tents on the South Col after coming
    to
    > the bottom of the fixed ropes down from the summit ridge
    > and also a potential rescuer unable to find the bottom of
    > the ropes from the tents. Can anyone shed any light as to
    > why basic navigation techniques like
    compass
    > and GPS wouldn't get used? All they needed was a bearing
    > to walk on for a few hundred metres.
     
  3. Richard Webb

    Richard Webb Guest

    "AndyP" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:<[email protected]>...
    > Just been reading a book about the events of May1996 when
    > several people died in a storm on Everest and the way in
    > which returning people were wandering around trying to
    > find their tents on the South Col after coming to the
    > bottom of the fixed ropes down from the summit ridge and
    > also a potential rescuer unable to find the bottom of the
    > ropes from the tents. Can anyone shed any light as to why
    > basic navigation techniques like compass and GPS wouldn't
    > get used? All they needed was a bearing to walk on for a
    > few hundred metres.

    Perhaps their brains were not working properly. They tend to
    go a bit wonky if you spend too long >8000m or less!

    I would imagine the navigation in a South Col hooly would
    be testing, thick gloves, cold etc. Add the altitude and
    big trouble.

    Of course, having never been >5100m in great weather, I
    cannot possibly begine to imagine a raging
    gale/blizzard at 8000m.

    Richard Webb
     
  4. Fran

    Fran Guest

    [email protected] said...
    > Just been reading a book about the events of May1996 when
    > several people died in a storm on Everest and the way in
    > which returning people were wandering around trying to
    > find their tents on the South Col after coming to the
    > bottom of the fixed ropes down from the summit ridge and
    > also a potential rescuer unable to find the bottom of the
    > ropes from the tents. Can anyone shed any light as to why
    > basic navigation techniques like compass and GPS wouldn't
    > get used? All they needed was a bearing to walk on for a
    > few hundred metres.

    Was GPS technology readily available to climbers in 1996?
    --
    Fran If you need my email address please ask.
     
  5. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    In article <[email protected]>,
    Fran <[email protected]> writes
    >[email protected] said...
    >> Just been reading a book about the events of May1996 when
    >> several people died in a storm on Everest and the way in
    >> which returning people were wandering around trying to
    >> find their tents on the South Col after coming to the
    >> bottom of the fixed ropes down from the summit ridge and
    >> also a potential rescuer unable to find the bottom of the
    >> ropes from the tents. Can anyone shed any light as to why
    >> basic navigation techniques like compass and GPS wouldn't
    >> get used? All they needed was a bearing to walk on for a
    >> few hundred metres.
    >
    >Was GPS technology readily available to climbers in 1996?

    Yes. Garmin was producing consumer receivers that were
    approaching £200 at the end of 1995. I bought my first
    Garmin (GPS38 same form as the common GPS12/XL but not as
    good) at the beginning of 1996.

    Prior to that I had used a couple of models of Trimble
    Ensign at work from 1993 onwards. They were still portable
    enough though about twice the size of the Garmin and they
    only had a text/numeric display - no map.

    The first receiver I used was in a Magellan Nav 1000 in
    1990. That cost several thousand pounds, was the size of a
    brick and consumed 8AA batteries rather rapidly IIRC. That
    would not have been very well suited to consumer use in
    the wilds.

    Now would the people concerned have wanted the extra weight
    of a GPS receiver when they were already planning to be out
    near the limits of their ability. And would they have had
    the mental / physical ability to use one later when they
    needed to get back to shelter in extreme conditions at the
    end of a long day...

    --

    http://www.dscs.demon.co.uk/
     
  6. Phil Cook

    Phil Cook Guest

    On 10 Mar 2004 03:15:37 -0800, Richard Webb wrote:

    >"AndyP" <[email protected]> wrote in
    >message news:<[email protected]>...
    >> Just been reading a book about the events of May1996 when
    >> several people died in a storm on Everest and the way in
    >> which returning people were wandering around trying to
    >> find their tents on the South Col after coming to the
    >> bottom of the fixed ropes down from the summit ridge and
    >> also a potential rescuer unable to find the bottom of the
    >> ropes from the tents. Can anyone shed any light as to why
    >> basic navigation techniques like compass and GPS wouldn't
    >> get used? All they needed was a bearing to walk on for a
    >> few hundred metres.
    >
    >Perhaps their brains were not working properly. They tend
    >to go a bit wonky if you spend too long >8000m or less!
    >
    >I would imagine the navigation in a South Col hooly would
    >be testing, thick gloves, cold etc. Add the altitude and
    >big trouble.

    Yes the difficulties of walking on a bearing in a storm need
    to be taken into account. Night, snow very high wind speed
    and I reckon it would be hard to walk in a straight line
    even with a compass to guide.
    >
    >Of course, having never been >5100m in great weather, I
    >cannot possibly begine to imagine a raging gale/blizzard
    >at 8000m.

    As for GPS, 1996 was four years before SA was switched off
    so GPS would have been useless.
    --
    Phil Cook looking north over the park to the
    "Westminster Gasworks"
     
  7. Steve

    Steve Guest

    On Wed, 10 Mar 2004 15:18:58 +0000, Phil Cook
    <[email protected]> wrote:

    >On 10 Mar 2004 03:15:37 -0800, Richard Webb wrote:

    >>> Can anyone shed any light as to why basic navigation
    >>> techniques like compass and GPS wouldn't get used? All
    >>> they needed was a bearing to walk on for a few hundred
    >>> metres.
    >>
    >
    >Yes the difficulties of walking on a bearing in a storm
    >need to be taken into account. Night, snow very high wind
    >speed and I reckon it would be hard to walk in a straight
    >line even with a compass to guide.

    Plus you'd have to know exactly where you were before you
    set off on your bearing; triangulating your position from
    the South Col, in a white out, blowing a hoolie; nah, I
    don't think so!

    >As for GPS, 1996 was four years before SA was switched off
    >so GPS would have been useless.

    Actually, and perhaps perversely a GPS in this situation,
    even one who's accuracy had been degraded by SA might have
    been [much] better use; that is until you throw in the
    precise environment, debiltating effects of altitude, load
    carrying capacities because of same, people involved and the
    conditions.

    I think the original poster can answer his own question by
    re-reading the book (assuming its Krakauer's, or similar)
    and thereiin lies the reason why nav-ing wasn't possible.
    Not dissing the original post, more that the answers mooted
    around here simply recognising that attention is drawn back
    to the original text(s).


    SteveO

    NE Climbers & walkers chat forum;
    http://www.thenmc.org.uk/phpBB2/index.php

    NMC website: http://www.thenmc.org.uk
     
  8. Mark South

    Mark South Guest

    <Steve Orrell> wrote

    > I think the original poster can answer his own question by
    > re-reading the book (assuming its Krakauer's, or similar)

    Off the top of my fragile little brain I can think of 4
    books written by people who were in that party
    (Krakauer, Wethers, Gammelgaard, Boukreev) and there
    might easily be more.

    The ones that I have read are hardly similar. They all blame
    others. Boukreev basically implies that Krakauer saved his
    own skin at the expense of everyone else for example.

    And if you go by the descriptions given by Krakauer, most of
    the party were babes in the wood who would have had
    difficulties surviving getting up and down Mam Tor on a
    sunny day in July from the upper car park....

    --
    Mark South: Citizen of the World, Denizen of the Net
    <<Tiens! Ce poulet a une grenade!
     
  9. Steve Orrell writes:

    >On Wed, 10 Mar 2004 15:18:58 +0000, Phil Cook <[email protected]
    >cook.RfErMeOeVsEeCrAvPeS.co.uk> wrote:

    >>On 10 Mar 2004 03:15:37 -0800, Richard Webb wrote:

    >>>> Can anyone shed any light as to why basic navigation
    >>>> techniques like compass and GPS wouldn't get used? All
    >>>> they needed was a bearing to walk on for a few hundred
    >>>> metres.

    >>Yes the difficulties of walking on a bearing in a storm
    >>need to be taken into account. Night, snow very high wind
    >>speed and I reckon it would be hard to walk in a straight
    >>line even with a compass to guide.

    >Plus you'd have to know exactly where you were before you
    >set off on your bearing; triangulating your position from
    >the South Col, in a white out, blowing a hoolie; nah, I
    >don't think so!

    >>As for GPS, 1996 was four years before SA was switched off
    >>so GPS would have been useless.

    >Actually, and perhaps perversely a GPS in this situation,
    >even one who's accuracy had been degraded by SA might have
    >been [much] better use; that is until you throw in the
    >precise environment, debiltating effects of altitude, load
    >carrying capacities because of same, people involved and
    >the conditions.

    Plus the difficulties of getting batteries to deliver
    enough voltage at those temperatures, plus the difficulties
    of getting LCD displays to display at those temperatures.
    You need to be well-organised and practised to use a GPSR
    in seriously adverse conditions when it's probably as
    difficult to think straight as it is to walk straight. You
    can't just switch it on, and then describe the display to
    Mountain Rescue on your mobile phone so they can tell you
    where to go :)
    --
    Chris Malcolm [email protected] +44 (0)131 651 3445 DoD #205
    IPAB, Informatics, JCMB, King's Buildings, Edinburgh, EH9 3JZ, UK
    [http://www.dai.ed.ac.uk/homes/cam/]
     
  10. Andyp

    Andyp Guest

    <Steve Orrell> wrote

    > Plus you'd have to know exactly where you were before you
    > set off on your bearing; triangulating your position from
    > the South Col, in a white out, blowing a hoolie; nah, I
    > don't think so!

    I'd have thought making sure you knew where the tents were
    in relation to the bottom of the ropes would have been an
    obvious thing to do before you set off incase of visibility
    problems on your return.

    > I think the original poster can answer his own question by
    > re-reading the book (assuming its Krakauer's, or similar)
    > and thereiin lies the reason why nav-ing wasn't possible.
    > Not dissing the original post, more that the answers
    > mooted around here simply recognising that attention is
    > drawn back to the original text(s).

    It just suddenly struck me whilst I was reading that I don't
    think compasses have ever been mentioned in any other
    similar books I've read when people at high altitude have
    been overtaken by bad weather.

    I can certainly see why walking on a predetermined compass
    bearing would have been extremely difficult in such
    conditions but I don't see why it wasn't even attempted or
    why compasses don't appear to be standard things to take.
    Surely a better option than walking around blindly trusting
    your intuition? If people can change oxygen cylinders, tie
    ropes, use headtorches etc. at altitude then why can't they
    use a compass? White out blizzard conditions on Ben Nevis at
    night wouldn't be any different as far as visibility goes
    and anyone getting into trouble up there without a compass
    would be universally criticised.
     
  11. Andyp

    Andyp Guest

    "Mark South" <[email protected]> wrote

    > And if you go by the descriptions given by Krakauer, most
    > of the party were babes in the wood who would have had
    > difficulties surviving getting up and down Mam Tor on a
    > sunny day in July from the upper car park....

    Most of the members of Scott Fischer's team were pretty
    experienced mountaineers.
     
  12. Andy Howell

    Andy Howell Guest

    On 10/3/04 5:21 pm, in article [email protected], "Mark South"
    <[email protected]> wrote:

    > And if you go by the descriptions given by Krakauer, most
    > of the party were babes in the wood who would have had
    > difficulties surviving getting up and down Mam Tor on a
    > sunny day in July from the upper car park....

    Kraujauer's book was spooky. Who on earth would turn up to
    Everest base camp either never having worn their boots
    before or never having used crampon? !!!
     
  13. Steve

    Steve Guest

    On Wed, 10 Mar 2004 18:21:11 +0100, "Mark South"
    <[email protected]> wrote:

    ><Steve Orrell> wrote
    >
    >> I think the original poster can answer his own question
    >> by re-reading the book (assuming its Krakauer's, or
    >> similar)
    >
    >Off the top of my fragile little brain I can think of 4
    >books written by people who were in that party
    >(Krakauer, Wethers, Gammelgaard, Boukreev) and there
    >might easily be more.
    >
    >The ones that I have read are hardly similar. They
    >all blame others. Boukreev basically implies that
    >Krakauer saved his own skin at the expense of
    >everyone else for example.

    This is immaterial and supposition.

    Mark, you've taken my quote out of context. To reiterate,
    but perhaps state differently, the purpose I saw in "re-
    reading the book" was to reassess the descriptive passages
    in whichever book the original poster had been reading in
    the context of the, broadly speaking, similar comments
    made in here.

    I was not commenting on any particular recollection of
    events or the people involved, rather what might be read of
    the _conditions_ (should I put that in capitals?) that were
    experienced.

    SteveO

    NE Climbers & walkers chat forum;
    http://www.thenmc.org.uk/phpBB2/index.php

    NMC website: http://www.thenmc.org.uk
     
  14. Mark South

    Mark South Guest

    "AndyP" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > "Mark South" <[email protected]> wrote
    >
    > > And if you go by the descriptions given by Krakauer,
    > > most of the
    party
    > > were babes in the wood who would have had difficulties
    > > surviving
    getting
    > > up and down Mam Tor on a sunny day in July from the
    > > upper car
    park....
    >
    > Most of the members of Scott Fischer's team were pretty
    > experienced mountaineers.

    <quote> And if you go by _the_
    descriptions_given_by_Krakauer_ .... </quote>

    Should I have typed in capitals?
    --
    Mark South: Citizen of the World, Denizen of the Net
    <<Tiens! Ce poulet a une grenade!
     
  15. Mark South

    Mark South Guest

    <Steve Orrell> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > On Wed, 10 Mar 2004 18:21:11 +0100, "Mark South"
    > <[email protected]> wrote:
    >
    > ><Steve Orrell> wrote
    > >
    > >> I think the original poster can answer his own
    > >> question by
    re-reading
    > >> the book (assuming its Krakauer's, or similar)
    > >
    > >Off the top of my fragile little brain I can think of 4
    > >books written
    by
    > >people who were in that party (Krakauer, Wethers,
    > >Gammelgaard,
    Boukreev)
    > >and there might easily be more.
    > >
    > >The ones that I have read are hardly similar. They all
    > >blame others. Boukreev basically implies that Krakauer
    > >saved his own skin at the expense of everyone else for
    > >example.
    >
    > This is immaterial and supposition.

    That's the neatest, sharpest, and most breathtaking
    dismissal I've had all week. I'm very, very impressed. Do
    you mind if I file it for future use?

    > Mark, you've taken my quote out of context.

    It is nice to receive recognition for one's skills :)

    > To reiterate, but perhaps state differently, the purpose I
    > saw in "re-reading the book" was to reassess the
    > descriptive passages in whichever book the original poster
    > had been reading in the context of the, broadly speaking,
    > similar comments made in here.

    Absolutely.

    > I was not commenting on any particular recollection of
    > events or the people involved, rather what might be read
    > of the _conditions_ (should I put that in capitals?) that
    > were experienced.

    Let me try: CONDITIONS ... hmm, doesn't help.

    The conditions experienced and described by the participants
    (who were in widely ranging physical conditions) were very
    different, and the weather was changing moment by moment.

    The books only combine to create a consensus on on fact:
    that everyone has an interest in maintaining their version
    of the events, and that subjective factors dominate the
    overwhelming majority of statements made by all.

    But if you can extract a universal agreed description of the
    conditions, please do.
    --
    Mark South: Citizen of the World, Denizen of the Net
    <<Tiens! Ce poulet a une grenade!
     
  16. Kro

    Kro Guest

    "Andy Howell" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:BC753BA2.2B77B%[email protected]...
    > Kraujauer's book was spooky. Who on earth would turn up to
    > Everest base camp either never having worn their boots
    > before or never having used crampon? !!!
    >
    I haven't read this book, I have assumed that your question
    relates to an incident in it. I'm just going to tut, shake
    my head and say it's no wonder the mountain rescue get
    p*ssed off rescuing such ill-prepared idiots :)

    KRO
     
  17. Andyp

    Andyp Guest

    "Mark South" <[email protected]> wrote

    > > Most of the members of Scott Fischer's team were pretty
    > > experienced mountaineers.

    > <quote> And if you go by _the_
    > descriptions_given_by_Krakauer_ .... </quote>
    >
    > Should I have typed in capitals?

    Just trying to offer a bit of helpful info. By writing..."I
    can think of 4 books written by people who were in that
    party (Krakauer, Wethers, Gammelgaard, Boukreev)" I assumed
    you were a bit sketchy on the details because Gammelgard and
    Boukreev were in one party (Scott Fischer's) and Krakauer
    and Wethers another (Rob Hall's).

    And surely it was more Krakauer's book blaming Boukreev
    rather than Boukreev/DeWalt's book blaming Krakauer.
    Boukreev tells it more just as a statement of events without
    any blame. Krakauer on the other hand was pretty critical of
    Boukreev's actions as a guide.
     
  18. Mark South

    Mark South Guest

    "AndyP" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > "Mark South" <[email protected]> wrote
    >
    > > > Most of the members of Scott Fischer's team were
    > > > pretty
    experienced
    > > > mountaineers.
    >
    > > <quote> And if you go by _the_
    > > descriptions_given_by_Krakauer_ .... </quote>
    > >
    > > Should I have typed in capitals?
    >
    > Just trying to offer a bit of helpful info. By
    > writing..."I can think
    of 4
    > books written by people who were in that party (Krakauer,
    > Wethers, Gammelgaard, Boukreev)" I assumed you were a bit
    > sketchy on the
    details

    Sketchiness on the details is something that is clearly
    characteristic of everyone still alive. Us included.

    > because Gammelgard and Boukreev were in one party (Scott
    > Fischer's)
    and
    > Krakauer and Wethers another (Rob Hall's).

    The party on the mountain. They were mixed up as hell.

    > And surely it was more Krakauer's book blaming Boukreev
    > rather than Boukreev/DeWalt's book blaming Krakauer.
    > Boukreev tells it more just
    as a
    > statement of events without any blame. Krakauer on the
    > other hand was pretty critical of Boukreev's actions as
    > a guide.

    Last sentence, agree. Direct criticism. First 2 sentences,
    reread Boukreev. Criticism by implication is rife.

    Even assuming someone out there knows the truth (doubtful),
    no-one has an interest in telling it. Expect the saga to run
    and run, especially after the movie comes out.
    --
    Mark South: Citizen of the World, Denizen of the Net
    <<Tiens! Ce poulet a une grenade!
     
  19. Gordon

    Gordon Guest

    Andy Howell <[email protected]> wrote
    >On 10/3/04 5:21 pm, in article
    >[email protected], "Mark South"
    ><[email protected]> wrote:
    >
    >> And if you go by the descriptions given by Krakauer, most
    >> of the party were babes in the wood who would have had
    >> difficulties surviving getting up and down Mam Tor on a
    >> sunny day in July from the upper car park....
    >
    >Kraujauer's book was spooky. Who on earth would turn up to
    >Everest base camp either never having worn their boots
    >before or never having used crampon? !!!
    >

    My first day's hill walking was over the Langdale Pikes,
    with a group from work, one of who wore a lounge suit, and
    ordinary shoes, and (sensibly!) a smart raincoat. He made
    the full trip. Another guy had brought along his
    girlfriend, forgetting to mention that she had an
    artificial foot. She made it as far as the tarn,
    (Stickle?), before letting the leader know she was
    struggling, bless her heart, and they had to be escorted
    down to the valley before we continued around the tops,
    although we had to abandon the planned walk.
    --
    Gordon
     
  20. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    In article <[email protected]>, AndyP <[email protected]
    spam.co.uk> writes

    >
    >> Now would the people concerned have wanted the extra
    >> weight of a GPS receiver when they were already planning
    >> to be out near the limits of their ability. And would
    >> they have had the mental / physical ability to use one
    >> later when they needed to get back to shelter in extreme
    >> conditions at the end of a long day...
    >
    >Cameras are commonly taken and used.

    I don't think one would need to be Paul Saunders to find it
    a necessity to take a camera on a walk like that!

    --

    http://www.dscs.demon.co.uk/
     
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