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Box Death Hollow SAR

Discussion in 'Accidents and Near Misses' started by hank moon, May 27, 2019.

  1. Scott Patterson

    Scott Patterson

    One of the women rescued confirmed that it was Death Hollow. The parked one car at the top at Hells Backbone and one car at the Boulder Mail Trailhead. The plan was to do Upper Death Hollow and exit the Boulder Mail Trail.
    Last edited: May 30, 2019
    EvergreenDean and ratagonia like this.
  2. MeiDayMeiDay


    Bay Area CA
    I'm curious if anyone has any answers for this? If they did have wet suits, what would have prevented this?
  3. ratagonia


    Mount Carmel, Utah
    With some perspective but not a complete picture, I can offer the following analysis, using guesswork and applying my usual pet theories:

    (note: please add a "maybe" to every sentence below)

    1. Lack of accurate information: the geographic labeling in this area is confusing, and the trio may not have been aware of this. There are indications that they asked about the route at the Visitor Center (in Escalante?) and received information about the lower section, rather than the upper section. (Maybe). The canyon they were in did not match their information...

    1A. Unknown unknowns: a lack of experience with the area would have left them unaware that there was a nomenclature problem.

    1B. Ineffective qualification of beta sources: when you receive beta, it helps to have knowledge about the source of the beta. Some sources are better than others. One source they used was a person in uniform at the Visitor Center. I have noticed that some people think people in uniforms in Visitor Centers are omniscient. This is rarely the case. And in this case, it sounds like the uniformed person made an incorrect assumption about what route they were doing.

    1C. Did not apply local conditions adjustment: beta is generally written for 'normal conditions'. In this case, the normal conditions for this route might be in summer or fall. My sketchy memory is that this event occurred after an extended period of rain, and in early spring. Not surprisingly, the water and temperature conditions were considerably different than the same canyon in summer or fall.

    I think that is sufficient. While they were 'prepared', they were not prepared for the conditions they found. This reminds me of an adage that has been floating around recently: "It gets dark every night. It is not an emergency." It gets cold and wet most springs, and after most extended periods of rain. It is not an emergency (unless you don't account for it, then it becomes an emergency).

    All that said, I am glad they escaped successfully. Tragedies often result when people who have already made several mistakes (as above), then "push through" and make more mistakes.

    Last edited: Sep 5, 2019
    MeiDayMeiDay likes this.
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