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June 18, 2009
FLASH: The official search and Rescue efforts have been called off in the incident described below. As is so often the case, stuff can and will happen in these mountains and they are always to be taken seriously. Most recently a 70 year solo hiker has been missing for 9 days after leaving from Pinkham Notch with a general plan to summit Mt. Washington. Peter Shintani, a native of Napanee, Ontario, was believed to have started his hike on June 9. Unfortunately no one has any idea which trail he took.
Shintani did not leave a detailed plan and it was not until he started missing appointments that his sister became aware that he had not returned and notified authorities. According to reports he apparently did not sign in at the AMC in Pinkham and was not seen at the Summit or the Hermit Lake Shelter. However a diary left in his vehicle indicated that he was heading up on the mountain. Fish & Game officials aren't sure what he was wearing or what supplies he had. High temperatures on the mountain have been in the low to mid-40s and low temperatures around freezing with some rain and winds 30 to 50 MPH at times. An unprepared hiker could be in trouble in these conditions if out for only a few days, much less 9!
50 people and four dog teams began the full-scale search for Shintani on Wednesday morning. Teams halted their search Wednesday evening but were expected to restart on Thursday. The NH National Guard helicopter which had been aiding in the efforts will not continue the search, however.
The search teams covered all of the regular hiking trail, checked the snow fields in Tuckerman Ravine and even off the trail above timberline. Unfortunately if he was off the trail in most places below treeline the reality is that it is pretty unlikely he would be found, except by accident. It is somewhat unusual that he was not seen by anyone on the first couple of days when he is believed to have started his hike as there were quite a number of people on the mountain. Solo hiking is quite popular, but in the event of a problem you have no backup. While many hikers rely on their cell phones in case of an emergency, reception is very spotty in the presidential range at best.
I received the following from Chris Martin of NH Audubon. Apparently there were no nesting birds at the Painted Walls so I was not involved this year. However there were birds at Cathedral. Many folks are interested in in the status of these magnificent birds so here is Chris' report:
On Wednesday, 6/10/2009, we visited peregrine falcon nests at Cathedral Ledge in Echo Lake State Park in Bartlett, NH and at Frankenstein Cliff in Crawford Notch State Park in Harts Location, NH.
At Cathedral Ledge, three 23 to 25-day old peregrine falcon chicks were examined and banded at their nest ledge located at the northern end of the cliff between the "Repentence" and "Remission" climbing routes. Volunteer climber Paul Cormier led the rappel down to the nest ledge. Chris Martin from NH Audubon examined and banded the chicks and retrieved prey remains. The International Mountaineering Climbing School generously provided a 600 ft static rope making a single rappel from top to bottom possible. We had so much fun using the rope that we did the rappel TWICE ...actually, we were off by 50 ft on our starting point, something we only discovered when we were 200+ ft down the cliff, so we had to move it and try again! If all goes well, these young falcons should be making their first flights by the last few days of June. Should they successfully fledge, these will be the first peregrine chicks produced from Cathedral Ledge since 2004, and the most ever from the site in a single year since it was first reoccupied in 1986.
At Frankenstein Cliff, one 25-day old peregrine falcon chick was examined and banded. If all goes well, this young falcon should be making its first flight before the end of June. Volunteer climber Paul Cormier again assisted by leading the rappel down to the ledge where he and Martin retrieved prey remains and two unhatched eggs for later analysis by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Chris Costello and one other US Forest Sevice employee from the Bartlett Experimental Forest assisted by using their vehicle's directional signals to communicate to the climbing party that we were in the correct starting position before we started the decent to the nest ledge. Recovery of two more eggs from this site may have significance in the future as a recent analysis of 114 New England peregrine eggs from 1996-2006 found that two eggs recovered from this same location in 2001 had PBDE concentrations that "rival the highest PBDE burdens reported in wildlife to date," according to a study published in the scientific journal Environmental Science & Technology in September 2008.
These were the fifth and sixth NH peregrine falcon nest sites that we have visited in 2009; Martin and others banded three chicks at the Brady-Sullivan Tower in Manchester on 5/15, four chicks at Owls Head in Benton and three at Sugarloaf Mtn in Benton on 5/30, and one at Holts Ledge in Lyme on 6/8.
Peregrine falcon monitoring and management in New Hampshire is coordinated and carried out by NH Audubon with the support and/or guidance of the NH Fish & Game Department and the US Fish & Wildlife Service, the cooperation of other federal, state, and private land owners and managers, additional support from individual donors, and with the extraordinarily important help of many volunteer climbers and birders. Thanks to all who participate in this effort!
Chris Martin, Senior Biologist, Conservation Department
New Hampshire Audubon, 3 Silk Farm Road, Concord, NH 03301
Brutal is all I can say about the bugs UNLESS you hit a day and a place when there is a breeze. I was in the woods near Humphrey's on Monday and got absolutely killed, stopped at the top of Bear Notch on Tuesday and was eaten up BUT was on the Whitehorse slabs all morning on Wednesday and didn't see a single bug! Your Mileage May Vary but I think it's at least a 4 and moving rapidly toward a 5.
Up on one of the Mount Washington Valley's finest crags and want to know what that climb you're looking at is? Or maybe you're on your way up from Boston and want to check out the Ice Report for your upcoming weekend plans. Or more likely, you're at work just want to daydream about your next adventure. Well if you have a smart phone handy, you can get to NEClimbs from anywhere you have cell service. While it doesn't offer every single feature of the site and it's not an "app", in mobile form, it does do a whole lot and is very useful. Here is the live link to the mobile version of NEClimbs:
Check it out and if you have issues on your specific phone, please feel free to let me know.
Join us and LIKE us on Facebook. I'll try and post some interesting pix every Thursday and the latest Ice Report in the season, tho certainly not the whole Report. Here's where you can check it out:
Have fun and climb safe,
The White Mountain Report
North Conway, New Hampshire
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