[pct-l] Death on the PCT / John Joseph Donovan

Brian McLaughlin brianmclaugh at comcast.net
Wed Jan 27 12:53:20 CST 2010


I endorse your conclusion and would like to make a few observations.

Fatal situations like this rarely result from a single circumstance or one
bad decision; they tend to be a series of circumstances that compound
the original error until it becomes overwhelming, in the same way that
a single pebble dislodging can start a landslide.

The person making the poor decision has no way of knowing that
they are initiating a fatal sequence. To that person, it only appears
that they are taking an extra risk, but it is one they are willing to
accept. They think they can handle it and be OK. It turns out
they are wrong.

If anything can be done about this, it is preparation. That would
include leaving yourself a safety margin between what your gear
can handle and what you expect to encounter. But more importantly,
it would include the need to reassess risk actively, on an _ongoing_
basis, as your situation becomes clearer, and include having a Plan B
ready whenever you know you are entering a zone of risk.

Lastly, and I would underline this for every PCT hiker:

Never take the attitude that your current goal is so important
and your current plan so sacred that you can't bail out on it.
Everything should be open to change. At every step. Including
turning around and losing miles or altitude you just worked
hard to gain. Don't put yourself into something you can't back
out of.

Happy hiking to all.

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "dsaufley" <dsaufley at sprynet.com>
To: "'Don Billings'" <dbillings803 at yahoo.com>; <pct-l at backcountry.net>
Sent: Tuesday, January 26, 2010 5:26 PM
Subject: Re: [pct-l] Death on the PCT / John Joseph Donovan

> ... It is my personal conclusion (not that it matters) that the entire
> tragedy was preventable, and that the series of really bad choices up 
> front,
> combined with bad weather and challenging conditions on the trail, led to
> John Donovan's untimely death. ...

> L-Rod 

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