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RMNP Ranger dies in fall Jeff Christensen

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
As we close out this years ski season and begin to look forward to our summer activities I would like to mention something my family and I experienced last summer at ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK.

Jeff Christensen was a ranger in the summer who also worked as a ski patroller at winter park in the winter. I never met him but envy the life he lead.

Jeff fell during a solo back country patrol in the mummy range of rmnp. He sustained a head injury in the fall the cost him his life. He fell on Friday afternoon. They began searching for him on Saturday morning and did not find him until the following Saturday. It is estimated that he passed away sometime in the early evening the day he fell. I believe it is estimated that he did not fall from a great height but struck his head when he did.

We were guest at the park the whole week they were searching for him. The effort expended to try and find this missing ranger was very intense. Both on the ground, and multiple aircraft constantly overhead.
There were reports of clicks heard on the park radio frequency, and possible gunshots in the area of the missing ranger. All which gave us hope that he was still alive. At one point the whole north end of the park was shut down to motor traffic so they could use some high tech listening devices to try and locate Jeff. but to no avail.

Its a rangers duty to hike alone. A risk they all take that may have cost Jeff his life.

As we get ready for our summer activities lets not take risk that could cost us our lives. A simple fall in the wilderness can have dire consequences. Never hike alone. And let someone know where you are headed and when you plan on being back.

Here is a link to Jeff's memorial.


http://www.nationalparksgallery.com/park_news/906

Here is a link to some of the parks reports on the accident.

http://www.nps.gov/romo/pphtml/news.html
post #2 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by kcmcleary
Never hike alone.
I hike alone almost every day in the summer.
post #3 of 16
i know some mountaineers who habitually hike alone and have no problem, but on the off chance that something does happen... well these old timers lived to tell the tale and occasionaly admit that it would have been better had they had someone with them (crawling off a mountain with a broken leg, some extreme slicing on a snakebite that was inconeviently positioned for cut&suck etc).
personally i'm inclined to remain the eternal amateur.. 3 people minimum (1 to stay with whoever's hurt, 1 to go for help).. ideally, 4 people.

jinx
post #4 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by breckview
I hike alone almost every day in the summer.
I agree, "never hike alone" is the wrong lesson to take from the loss of Jeff Christensen. I would say, live your life and do what you're passionate about, and don't worry about unlikely bad scenarios. Solo hiking has great rewards, and it's not at all clear that Jeff's fall wouldn't have been fatal anyway if he'd had a companion.
post #5 of 16
Thread Starter 
Traveling alone in the back country is a personal risk that some would find very rewarding. Its too bad so many have not returned to tell us about it!
The point about Jeff was here was a experienced professional on an out back patrol. With a cell phone, two way radio and a hand gun. Who became disabled and unable to call for help for what reason no one is sure. A search ensued both on the ground and in the air. And he was not located for 1 week. His only major injury was to his head so he probable did not fall very far.

The question you need to ask yourself is the risk worth the reward. And if you do pay the ultimate price how will it effect the ones you love.
post #6 of 16
ahh.. cell phones... gotta love them
i have hiked alone on occasion in ontario/quebec. easy terrain, no mountains and the trusty cell phone with great coverage along... truthfully i never really though of it as hiking (much) and took comfort in the fact that a call would bring the choppers in if a rattler got me (though our canadian rattlers on the east coast are pretty unimpressive : ).

hiking in the mountains is a different matter. i haven't hiked in the rockies, but i've seen quite a bit of the carpathians (eastern europe): no cell phone coverage (you want help you have to go get it), 'interesting' terrain, and some nasty nasty nightmare inducing vipers (bite to the leg, you got about 2 hours. if they jump to the neck - if you catch then curled up on a rock that's their preferred target - you're *&!%#^).

does my phobia of snakes show?

jinx
post #7 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by jinx
ahh.. cell phones... gotta love them
i have hiked alone on occasion in ontario/quebec. easy terrain, no mountains and the trusty cell phone with great coverage along... truthfully i never really though of it as hiking (much) and took comfort in the fact that a call would bring the choppers in if a rattler got me (though our canadian rattlers on the east coast are pretty unimpressive : ).

hiking in the mountains is a different matter. i haven't hiked in the rockies, but i've seen quite a bit of the carpathians (eastern europe): no cell phone coverage (you want help you have to go get it), 'interesting' terrain, and some nasty nasty nightmare inducing vipers (bite to the leg, you got about 2 hours. if they jump to the neck - if you catch then curled up on a rock that's their preferred target - you're *&!%#^).

does my phobia of snakes show?

jinx
Holy snake-o-phobia, Batman!

I thought *I* was afraid of snakes. You've got me beat up one side of the street and down the other. :

The snake reference makes for a nice mini-hijack, but to get back to the main topic, I really don't think of hiking alone in the mountains as an especially dangerous, risk-taking sort of thing. I do quite a lot of it and I know a bunch of people who make my own wanderings seem like child's play.

I guess it comes down to a question of what's important to you. I really enjoy being out in the mountains alone and I'm not willing to give that up. I take reasonable precautions and don't put myself in "dangerous" situations when I'm alone, but I also don't intend on changing my preferences to the point that I would *only* go hiking when I had someone along.

I feel far more at risk driving on a freeway in any major city than I do scrambling on a mountain in Grand Teton National Park.
post #8 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by kcmcleary
Never hike alone.
That comment alone reflects my view that we, as Americans are really falling prisoner of this utopist zero risk factor mentality. Like every incident, every bump in the road can be avoided through technology, stifling cautionary measures or regulations. That observation becomes very striking every time I travel to Europe after living here for ten years. In the end are we so much safer or just more stuck up? I don't feel like it's worth living a long life if you've never experienced it. I'm not advocating reckless endangerment or mindless behaviors, just some common sense which doesn’t sacrifice every ounce of fun and satisfaction that are brought on by the uncertainties of life and our daily hobbies.
post #9 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by kelly001
That comment alone reflects my view that we, as Americans are really falling prisoner of this utopist zero risk factor mentality. Like every incident, every bump in the road can be avoided through technology, stifling cautionary measures or regulations. That observation becomes very striking every time I travel to Europe after living here for ten years. In the end are we so much safer or just more stuck up? I don't feel like it's worth living a long life if you've never experienced it. I'm not advocating reckless endangerment or mindless behaviors, just some common sense which doesn’t sacrifice every ounce of fun and satisfaction that are brought on by the uncertainties of life and our daily hobbies.
Depends on how you look at it. Respect for the mountains has nothing to do with the 'utopist zero risk factor mentality', it's common sense. They're safer then the freeway, but you have no way of getting help if you're alone and hurt (unless cell phones work... do they? : ). Now, if you really hate the company, it's a calculated risk.

As for the 'utopist zero factor mentality', i'm in total agreement. Especially when it's enforced on unwilling people ( maybe i don't want to wear a helmet, it's MY head! : )

jinx
post #10 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by kcmcleary
Traveling alone in the back country is a personal risk that some would find very rewarding. Its too bad so many have not returned to tell us about it!
When you consider how many people travel alone in the backcountry, the percentage that don't return is miniscule.

Quote:
The point about Jeff was here was a experienced professional
Apparently not too professional if he didn't leave detailed plans, and all possible deviations with someone containing a specific time on which to call for rescue. Backcountry 101.
post #11 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by jinx
Depends on how you look at it. Respect for the mountains has nothing to do with the 'utopist zero risk factor mentality', it's common sense. They're safer then the freeway, but you have no way of getting help if you're alone and hurt (unless cell phones work... do they? : ). Now, if you really hate the company, it's a calculated risk.
I was really making a broader statement not trying to pinpoint this particular tragic incident to illustrate my observation. I'm sure this ranger had plenty of common sense and experience hiking in the backcountry. Shit happens as the saying goes. You can stress all you want, take all the precautions you want in life, that's still will never equate to a guarantee on life. This nation seems to be losing sight of that detail as we push forward.
post #12 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by breckview
Apparently not too professional if he didn't leave detailed plans, and all possible deviations with someone containing a specific time on which to call for rescue. Back country 101.
From what I read they had a pretty good Idea of were he was going even thou the whole area he was hiking in was a free hiking area with no set trails, and that he was over due when he didn't call for a pickup during the night shift.

I personally have heard of 3 fatalities in the last couple of years of people that were hiking alone. Two were tragic falls that even if they were hiking with someone else they probably would still be dead unless they were roped up or the friend helped them exercise some restraint or take a better look at something.

A better way to put it is try and never hike in unfamiliar territory alone! but always respect the wilderness or you could find your self in over your head.
post #13 of 16
Thread Starter 
As a side note recently we lost 2 professional rescue personnel and 1 of the best off piste skiers, they gave there lives trying to help some one else that had gotten themselves into trouble.

I know their situations do not parallel this topic I would just like to illustrate that there are a lot of professional rescue people out there that would gladly risk there lives to help anyone lost or injured in the back country. More times than not the people that need rescuing have had some lapse of judgment or were just plain stupid.

My new catch phrase for this year is "Everyone has the right to be stupid"

like the women I have seen heading down bright angel trail in a dress and high heels.

or people heading out into the mountains for a 10 or 12 mile hike carrying just a water bottle.

conditions can change in the back country very quickly be prepared incase of injury to make an overnite while waiting for rescue. (warm clothing and sometype or rain gear)
post #14 of 16
It's ok to hike alone as long as you avoid risks. Avoid hiking alone at night.

I'd rather hike alone than ski a closed trail by myself.
post #15 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by kcmcleary
The question you need to ask yourself is the risk worth the reward.
OK, I asked myself. Self says yes, it's worth it. Your answer would obviously be different, but that's OK, don't hike alone if you're worried about it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Jones
It's ok to hike alone as long as you avoid risks.
It's impossible to avoid all risks, no matter what you're doing. If you stay at home on the couch you'll probably die sooner than if you're out hiking alone every day.
post #16 of 16
Thread Starter 
We live in a country that endorses personal freedoms. Do what ever it takes to make yourself happy. But if you screw up and end up needing rescue be sure and thank the people that come and risk their lives to save your sorry but.

The people that work search and rescue stop and interrupt their lives to try and preserve the precious life that you have taken for granted. And will always be there when you need them. No matter what is going on in their life when that call comes in they respond and give all they have and then some. Because they care. They leave their families and loved ones and go do what needs to be done.

Hopefully if you do get pinned under a rock or whatever you will have a swiss army knife available so you can cut your own arm off and walk out to save your own life.

Sh^t happens to the best prepared out door adventurer and sometimes you won't get a second chance.

I just love the way some people here hang on every typed word like its gospel. And try and justify things to their ideals. This post was meant to make people think a little bit before going into the wilderness and maybe pause a little before doing something that might be over their head for their experience. Not crucify anyone that likes to hike alone. Hiking alone has its risk and its rewards. Its done every day! But if someone reads this post and takes a little extra precaution before they set out it just could save their life. This post was mostly directed at the casual hikers that venture out 2 to 4 weekends a year.

So do what is right for you, its your choice!

The lesson here is what if .........if you are prepared you can handle most of the bad situations out there.
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