Friday, December 08, 2006

Lost in Oregon

Pretty moved by
the story of James Kim who died trying to rescue his family in back country Oregon.

He set out courageously to find help after a week stranded with his family in freezing temps and dwindling supplies.

But from the standpoint of folks with more experience in the wilderness, he didn’t have a strong chance to survive when he left his family to go it alone.

I’ve spent a lot of time in the back country and had some personal experience with hypothermia.

One time after coming down off Longs Peak here in Colorado I was so disoriented from mid-stage hypothermia that I couldn’t find my Jeep in the trailhead parking lot.

When your core temperature drops too low you lose it.

I stumbled around for a while and then finally ended up in a ranger’s cabin complaining that my car had been towed :^) The rangers covered me with blankets and gave me tea and coffee with big sugar until I warmed up and got enough glucose to get a grip. Turned out my Jeep was sitting in the middle of the parking lot.

Kim was wearing cotton clothing which absorbs moisture and gives no protection against the cold when wet. Instead of staying on the road he tried to bushwhack through extreme terrain. Doesn’t look like he attempted to build shelter for himself. Bad situation and poor choices. I'd guess halfway through his trek he was losing touch.

Yet in spite of a lack of wilderness survival training he made it ten miles through remote terrain before he succumbed. Remarkable. Love for your family can give you strength you didn't know you had.

Unfortunately, in the wilderness love isn't enough. Every time I head out into the back country alone I remind myself of the old climbers adage: the mountains don't care.


Blogger Samer Farhat said...

I get sick with sadness every time I read a news story about James Kim. I don't know what I would do in that situation.

5:55 PM  
Blogger Wordcat said...

Yeah, I know exactly what you're saying Samer. The whole thing made me sadder than anything I've seen for a while. It's one thing to attempt to make smart decisions and survive on your own, but it's another thing when your kids and wife are suffering. The stress of all that, terrible weather conditions, and no survival experience--really an impossible situation for him.

6:02 PM  
Blogger 3wishes said...

Newest addition to the car: Ziploc baggie with large candle, matches and a lighter. I hear its in every Canadians glove box. I dont know if it would last for 10 days, hope I dont get to find out. I hope to find info on a Christmas fund for those kids. Peace.

12:08 PM  

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