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Wed Apr 7, 2021, 02:40 PM

Pandemic Wilderness Explorers Are Straining Search & Rescue, Inexperienced flooding remote areas

Pandemic Wilderness Explorers Are Straining Search and Rescue
Inexperienced adventurers have flooded remote areas like Wyoming’s Sublette County during the pandemic. When they call for help, the task is left to an overwhelmed network of volunteers.


PINEDALE, Wyo. — Kenna Tanner and her team can list the cases from memory: There was the woman who got tired and did not feel like finishing her hike; the campers, in shorts during a blizzard; the base jumper, misjudging his leap from a treacherous granite cliff face; the ill-equipped snowmobiler, buried up to his neck in an avalanche.

All of them were pulled by Ms. Tanner and the Tip Top Search and Rescue crew from the rugged Wind River mountain range in the last year, in this sprawling, remote pocket of western Wyoming. And all of them, their rescuers said, were wildly unprepared for the brutal backcountry in which they were traveling.

“It is super frustrating,” said Ms. Tanner, Tip Top’s director. “We just wish that people respected the risk.”


In the throes of a pandemic that has made the indoors inherently dangerous, tens of thousands more Americans than usual have flocked outdoors, fleeing crowded cities for national parks and the public lands around them. But as these hordes of inexperienced adventurers explore the treacherous terrain of the backcountry, many inevitably call for help. It has strained the patchwork, volunteer-based search-and-rescue system in America’s West.


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“They come here and they’re like, ‘It’s beautiful, it’s a big open space.’ And it is,” Lesta Erickson, a Tip Top volunteer, said. “But it’s also dangerous.”

“They come here and they’re like, ‘It’s beautiful, it’s a big open space.’ And it is,” Lesta Erickson, a search-and-rescue volunteer, said. “But it’s also dangerous.”Credit...Max Whittaker for The New York Times



The 2020 ‘Blowdown’
It was 11:47 p.m. on Labor Day last year when the calls started coming in to Tip Top, first a trickle, then dozens. The holiday weekend had sent throngs of newcomers into the Winds to camp — and around midnight, a spectacular wind storm swept across the range, downing a staggering number of trees and sending temperatures plummeting.

Over the course of the week, Tip Top went on eight separate missions to help 23 people, Ms. Tanner said. The calls came in one after another: lost hikers, injured hikers, hikers unsure how to find the trail, hikers without cold weather gear. It would be the busiest week in the group’s history.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/07/us/coronavirus-wilderness-search-rescue.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage

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Reply Pandemic Wilderness Explorers Are Straining Search & Rescue, Inexperienced flooding remote areas (Original post)
Demovictory9 Apr 7 OP
2naSalit Apr 7 #1
FirstLight Apr 7 #2
jobendorfer Apr 7 #3
dv421 Apr 7 #4
Demovictory9 Apr 7 #5

Response to Demovictory9 (Original post)

Wed Apr 7, 2021, 02:50 PM

1. Now add the impact to resources for that one community...

To thousands of other National Forests and Parks. That's a thing in the western states, it just multiplied due to people thinking they knew what they were doing without checking it out first.

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Response to Demovictory9 (Original post)

Wed Apr 7, 2021, 03:13 PM

2. Tahoe has been inundated the whole year :(

Overtourism was already getting bad but the pandemic just made everyone come up here. I guess cuz they are outside people think it's safer (even when they are packed at the beach or scenic overlooks) and not a lot of masks at all...

What's worse is that most of the USFS land is closed for the season, but they still come up and park on the road and walk in and then pile their trash up at the cans/dumpsters...but there's no staff there to take it away! it's been a real problem.

The winter and snow brough more idjits, this time parking on the narrow lanes of Hwy 50 and running across to sled in random places on the side of the road...we've had several accidents with people getting hit, and kids getting severley injured by sledding INTO the road, or taking on a dangerous hill and breaking bones, etc.

People are so stupid, it burns

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Response to Demovictory9 (Original post)

Wed Apr 7, 2021, 03:59 PM

3. people amaze me

I like to photograph wildlife, so over the years I have spent a lot of time in Yellowstone. It's a great place to see large mammals, including elk, moose, bison, deer, bears, and wolves, among many others.

Most of the park is above 6,000ft in elevation, and so it can rain or snow at any time of year. So I always have a tent and a couple of sleeping bags in the car, along with extra water and food, and what I carry out on the trail in my pack is a fair approximation of what I used to mountaineer with, minus the anchors and tools, and plus some bear spray.

But here are things I have heard other visitors say/ask while at the park:
- "Do they turn off the geysers at night to save energy?" (No.)
- "Do they put the animals in a barn at night?" (No.)
- "Arthur, go stand next to that bison." (Unwise.)
- "Can I pet that elk?" (It's your life.)
- From a guy wearing shorts, a tanktop, and combat boots: "Is this the minimum amount of gear I need to bivvy in the outback?"
- "Do moose bite?" (Probably, but that will be the least of your worries if you get too close to one.)

That is, little if any conception that they are in a place where the weather can change suddenly, situational monitoring and analysis is a constant, and you need to have some gear on hand that will save your life when it goes from sunny and 80 degrees to cold/wet/freezing. And also that the nearest ER is 90 miles north of the park.

A friend of mine, who year-rounds in Gardiner (north edge of the Park), thinks the problem is the name "Park". In Nance's view, "park" connotes something like Central Park to urbanites. She thinks it should be renamed "Yellowstone Reserve for Extremely Dangerous Hot Pools, Geysers, and Animals."

All that said, Yellowstone can be enjoyed safely, if you properly prepare and use your brains. But it is a testament to the park staff that the injury and fatality rate is as low as it is, given how the vast majority of visitors think and behave.

J.

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Response to jobendorfer (Reply #3)

Wed Apr 7, 2021, 04:11 PM

4. You can never be too prepared in the mountians

Way back when, a buddy and I were hiking the highline trail in Glacier from Logan pass into Canada. It was early July and we saw the weather coming in. Set up our tent on the lee side of a rock. We ended up with 7 people in a 2 person tent, 3 of them in shorts and t-shirts and no other warm clothing. 4 inches of snow and probably 60 mph winds. They would have been in a world of hurt if they had not come across us.

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Response to jobendorfer (Reply #3)

Wed Apr 7, 2021, 04:49 PM

5. "Do they turn off the geysers at night to save energy?" well urban areas have the big fountains

that replicate geysers

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