Originally Posted by oisin
One of the recurrent themes of such episodes seems to be that the individual pushes himself beyond the point of return into a situation in which he has no option left except to act in pure survival mode.
Agreed. And agreed on the route issues too. I still haven't figured out exactly where he bailed and where he bivied, although a SAR rpt says he met up with searchers about a mile from the summit, but unclear exactly where, as well as the implications of that for where he was earlier.
The trail conditions down low were horrible that weekend, but the weather on Saturday was absolutely beautiful even late into the evening.
Here's a picture of skiing back from the summit of Adams to Gray Knob:http://picasaweb.google.com/jshefftz/20090425CastleRavineJeffersonRavine#5332426168145737906
(This was after two laps in the Sisters and two laps in Jefferson Ravine -- the snow was staying really soft, even after the sun went down.)
With hindsight, I suspect a case could be made that once he decided to bail on his loop, if he was relatively south then he should have bailed to the summit of Mt Washington, and if he was relatively north, then he should have bailed to Gray Knob. But as you noted, he probably didn't even know that Gray Knob exists and/or is open the entire year (unlike the AMC huts).
Then again, even without the benefit of hindsight, he never should have attempted such a route in those conditions anyway...