Police search for missing Blue Mountains bushwalkers

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Police search for missing Blue Mountains bushwalkers

Postby Overlandman » Sun 09 Nov, 2014 9:09 pm

From ABC News
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-11-09/p ... rs/5878168

Police are searching for two senior executives of a private insurer who are missing in the Blue Mountains.

Chris Dalton from Chatswood and Paul Bates from Mosman left their homes at 6:30am (AEDT) on Saturday for a day bushwalk at Mount Wilson in the Blue Mountains.

The men in their late 50s were reported missing after failing to return home that night.

Police today found their car parked next to the Mount Wilson fire shed.

Angela Corbetts from NSW Police said Blue Mountains Police, POLAIR, Police Rescue and NSW Ambulance Special Operations had been searching the nearby bushland.

"They will probably cease searching on darkness because it is apparently quite a rough terrain out there," she said.

The search will continue on Monday morning after a briefing at the Mount Wilson fire shed.
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Re: Police search for missing Blue Mountains bushwalkers

Postby icefest » Sun 09 Nov, 2014 10:40 pm

:'(

This is turning into an awful couple of weeks.
Men wanted for hazardous journey. Low wages, bitter cold, long hours of complete darkness. Safe return doubtful.
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Re: Police search for missing Blue Mountains bushwalkers

Postby FootTrack » Sun 09 Nov, 2014 10:49 pm

Just out of interest - why do so many people get lost/go missing in the Blue Mountains? Is it just a probability things based on how many people visit the park? Or is it because of the genuinely difficult terrain and navigation? Or is it because the park is relatively accessible from Sydney, so many people both experienced and non-experienced can access it? Or is it a mix of the above?

It just strikes me as bizarre how so many people can get lost there - even after numerous rescues are reported in the news (I would have thought that all of this coverage would raise people's awareness to the risks of visiting the place and prompt them to be more prepared, if this was a "preparedness" issue). :?

I haven't done much walking in the Blue Mountains myself so I don't have many ideas as to why this might be the case. The area just seems to be a rescue hot-spot. Admittedly, I might be suffering from a bit of tunnel vision here though, and focusing on events and not taking notice of a lot of other rescues across the country. Can anyone shed any light/correct me?
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Re: Police search for missing Blue Mountains bushwalkers

Postby Lindsay » Sun 09 Nov, 2014 11:40 pm

I think you've said it yourself. It's a combination of all the things you mentioned. It certainly has easy access from Sydney and it is popular with tourists, many of whom would have little to no bushwalking experience. It's easy to go from a well developed 'tourist' track with fencing and properly made steps to a rough, poorly marked track within a fairly short distance. Get just a little way off the beaten track and the terrain is rough and difficult, even in close proximity to roads and buildings.
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Re: Police search for missing Blue Mountains bushwalkers

Postby Grabeach » Mon 10 Nov, 2014 9:23 am

"...... discovered in a canyon ...... They have no serious injuries."

Lilo trip missed exit???
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Re: Police search for missing Blue Mountains bushwalkers

Postby GPSGuided » Mon 10 Nov, 2014 9:42 am

Good outcome!
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Re: Police search for missing Blue Mountains bushwalkers

Postby South_Aussie_Hiker » Mon 10 Nov, 2014 9:58 am

Glad they are okay. Shows that even with a LOT of brain power between the two, they managed to do something pretty silly and end up risking their own lives.

http://mobile.abc.net.au/news/2014-11-1 ... on/5878548
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Re: Police search for missing Blue Mountains bushwalkers

Postby Rob Gosford » Mon 10 Nov, 2014 10:50 am



QUOTE: "they did not log the walk with National Parks NSW."

and were they carrying a PLB ?
IMHO carrying a PLB into those areas should be mandatory, no matter how experienced a bushwalker you are. I hear you can hire them up there for a few dollars a day.........

great news to hear that they were found

8)
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Re: Police search for missing Blue Mountains bushwalkers

Postby tom_brennan » Mon 10 Nov, 2014 11:41 am

Rob Gosford wrote:QUOTE: "they did not log the walk with National Parks NSW."


Seriously, who logs their walk with "National Parks NSW" (sic, aka NPWS)?!

According to the police Facebook page, they "left details if (sic) their intended trip with family members"

South_Aussie_Hiker wrote:Shows that even with a LOT of brain power between the two, they managed to do something pretty silly and end up risking their own lives.


I think you're jumping to conclusions. The country north of Bells Line of Road is difficult. People get lost in there pretty frequently. There are probably a lot more that don't, but only through luck. There are many cliffs, few passes, and tracks are rough and often hard to follow and easy to lose for those not experienced with that sort of thing.

FootTrack wrote:Just out of interest - why do so many people get lost/go missing in the Blue Mountains? Is it just a probability things based on how many people visit the park? Or is it because of the genuinely difficult terrain and navigation? Or is it because the park is relatively accessible from Sydney, so many people both experienced and non-experienced can access it? Or is it a mix of the above?


I agree with Lindsay, it's a bit of everything. You also need to remember that the fires late last year burnt out many of the tracks. They will in general be much harder to follow than before.
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Re: Police search for missing Blue Mountains bushwalkers

Postby GPSGuided » Mon 10 Nov, 2014 12:19 pm

Latest report from SMH/Fairfax.
http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/missing-bushw ... 1jl80.html

Interesting situation in terms of the appropriate safety precautions.

- For day walkers, I'm interested in knowing the proportion of walkers who actually register their walks with the police/NPWS. I suspect the percentage is quite low.
- If they had a PLB, would they necessarily activate it if they were lost and stuck for 1-2 nights, especially if they thought they were still in control and their lives weren't in danger. As such, I am not sure that a lack of PLB is a significant point of criticism.

Given that it was their families that raised the alarm on the first night, I think it would be worth finding out whether they appropriately communicated their plan with the family and a plan of action should they fail to return. Still, I think there's still a good lesson and reminder for most.
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Re: Police search for missing Blue Mountains bushwalkers

Postby johnw » Mon 10 Nov, 2014 1:19 pm

Great news that they have been found safe.

From the SMH report:
"Both men are believed to be fit and active, and have some experience in bushwalking.
Police said the men had only planned to go for a day trip, and were not believed to be carrying supplies to spend several nights in the bush.
They did not log their walk with the National Parks and Wildlife Service, and were not carrying an emergency beacon."


I don't see a problem with any of that. Borrowing PLBs and logging trip intentions are fairly recent innovations. I agree that these measures are a great idea but they are not mandatory. I do carry a PLB these days, partly because many of my walks are solo. Before the common use of PLBs the usual advice was to leave intentions with family, friends or other reliable/trusted persons. I don't think that advice has become redundant. It sounds to me that the instructions given in this case may well have been followed correctly by family members. However we don't know the specifics of what happened.

GPSGuided wrote:- For day walkers, I'm interested in knowing the proportion of walkers who actually register their walks with the police/NPWS. I suspect the percentage is quite low.

Yes I'd also reckon it would very low judging by the large number of people I encounter on popular tracks. My views are similar to Tom's. I've never registered a walk and I suspect that both organisations would struggle to cope if every party walking in the Blue Mountains started doing so. I also doubt there would be enough free PLBs to go around. That said, I hope less experienced parties are taking advantage of that scheme.
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Re: Police search for missing Blue Mountains bushwalkers

Postby GPSGuided » Mon 10 Nov, 2014 2:21 pm

Noted that quote too earlier, especially "were not believed to be carrying supplies to spend several nights in the bush". Seemed to suggest that they did have some supplies and could have coped with at least 1-2 nights.
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Re: Police search for missing Blue Mountains bushwalkers

Postby tom_brennan » Mon 10 Nov, 2014 3:24 pm

GPSGuided wrote:- For day walkers, I'm interested in knowing the proportion of walkers who actually register their walks with the police/NPWS. I suspect the percentage is quite low.

Almost zero I imagine. I think it was a fairly silly quote from the media, implying that that's what responsible people should do. That said, the police do have an intentions form that you can use. From the police web site:
"Leave full details of your planned walk with a relative or a responsible person. Include details about where you will be going, who is with you, what equipment you have, and when you expect to return. You can download a trip intention form to register your walk with the police or National Parks and Wildlife Services."

But I agree with John that they neither want nor expect everyone to register their walk, otherwise they would be swamped. They also will not initiate a search on the back of a trip intentions form - you still need to have someone else raise the alarm. So an intentions form with the police is no more use than leaving details with friends/family.

GPSGuided wrote:- If they had a PLB, would they necessarily activate it if they were lost and stuck for 1-2 nights, especially if they thought they were still in control and their lives weren't in danger. As such, I am not sure that a lack of PLB is a significant point of criticism.

This one is a tricky one these days.

My view is now that if you know (or think it's likely) that a search has been initiated, you should set off your PLB, particularly if it's GPS-enabled. Now I know that it is only supposed to be used in life threatening situations. However, once a search has started, the aim is then to find the missing party as soon as possible, with as few resources deployed as possible. Being able to zero in on a location is a big help.

It would be worthwhile asking the police for their view on this.

Having been involved in the recent search at Kanangra, I have seen the sheer amount of resources that can get deployed in a full scale search. It is massive. As a result, I can see why the police are usually quite happy when people set off their PLB (responsibly) since it usually means the seach/rescue is limited to a small number of rescue personnel and one or two chopper flights.
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Re: Police search for missing Blue Mountains bushwalkers

Postby GPSGuided » Mon 10 Nov, 2014 4:09 pm

tom_brennan wrote:My view is now that if you know (or think it's likely) that a search has been initiated, you should set off your PLB, particularly if it's GPS-enabled. Now I know that it is only supposed to be used in life threatening situations. However, once a search has started, the aim is then to find the missing party as soon as possible, with as few resources deployed as possible. Being able to zero in on a location is a big help.

It would be worthwhile asking the police for their view on this.

Acknowledging the qualifier, this seemed to be a departure from the common view out of past discussions. And for what's it worth, how would one know or think a search has been initiated if one doesn't feel threatened. If one sees and hears chopper overhead, could it be for another party? What would be the impact of setting off the PLB under such a circumstance?
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Re: Police search for missing Blue Mountains bushwalkers

Postby tom_brennan » Mon 10 Nov, 2014 4:24 pm

General guidelines for calling authorities are around midday on the following day for a day walk, and 24 hours for an overnight walk. It usually takes a few more hours to start the search. After that, you can probably assume that you're being searched for.
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Re: Police search for missing Blue Mountains bushwalkers

Postby DarrenM » Mon 10 Nov, 2014 4:57 pm

South_Aussie_Hiker wrote:Glad they are okay. Shows that even with a LOT of brain power between the two, they managed to do something pretty silly and end up risking their own lives.

http://mobile.abc.net.au/news/2014-11-1 ... on/5878548

Some would say train surfing whilst stoned would be "silly risk taking".

Let's not add fuel for the Wowsers.
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Re: Police search for missing Blue Mountains bushwalkers

Postby kjbeath » Mon 10 Nov, 2014 5:14 pm

A reasonable assumption is that if you are lost, have decided that it is best to remain where you are in case of becoming even more lost and someone doesn't find you, it will eventually become life threatening. So perfectly reasonable to set off the PLB.
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Re: Police search for missing Blue Mountains bushwalkers

Postby skibug » Fri 28 Nov, 2014 1:45 pm

Dear all,

So far as regsitering walks with NPWS (or Police), would people really be expected to register doing all or part of the Coastal track in Royal National Park, or walking Cowan to Brooklyn, or the Grand Canyon at Blackheath? I truly doubt that anyone (Parks or Police) would have the resources to do so, let alone the interest.

I am reminded of the time my partner and I spent three days/two night walking and camping on Freycinet Peninsula in the late nineties. At the trailhead, there was a book for campers to write in their intended journey, which we dutifully filled in, along with a few dozen other people. Upon our return, I tried to sign out but found that it had already been done for me, as well as everyone else - all with the same illegible scrawl!

The failsafe way to declare your journey is with a trusted friend or family member, with as much detail as possible to facilitate searches if things go wrong.

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Re: Police search for missing Blue Mountains bushwalkers

Postby GPSGuided » Fri 28 Nov, 2014 4:20 pm

Get a PLB and register one's latest trip plan and other info with AMSA. Problem solved.
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Re: Police search for missing Blue Mountains bushwalkers

Postby Allchin09 » Fri 28 Nov, 2014 10:12 pm

GPSGuided wrote:Get a PLB and register one's latest trip plan and other info with AMSA. Problem solved.


What if you get into trouble but can't activate the PLB - Problem not solved?
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Re: Police search for missing Blue Mountains bushwalkers

Postby perfectlydark » Fri 28 Nov, 2014 10:46 pm

Common sense. If you are doing a journey that you suspect carries some.sort of.risk that may be mitigted by alerting.the authorities then register. Else dont bother wasting their time by logging your well plannned relativly safe daywalk
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Re: Police search for missing Blue Mountains bushwalkers

Postby GPSGuided » Fri 28 Nov, 2014 11:24 pm

Allchin09 wrote:What if you get into trouble but can't activate the PLB - Problem not solved?

Earth may open up suddenly underneath and close up again. Why bother then wasting everyone's time? Seriously though, you are right but there isn't a perfect world.
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Re: Police search for missing Blue Mountains bushwalkers

Postby Allchin09 » Sat 29 Nov, 2014 7:33 am

What I'm trying to get at is this:

skibug wrote:The failsafe way to declare your journey is with a trusted friend or family member, with as much detail as possible to facilitate searches if things go wrong.
Skibug


Regardless of whether you have registered with the police, npws or AMSA, you still need to leave trip details with family or friends along with a strict "panic date" so they can raise the alarm when appropriate.

GPSGuided wrote:Earth may open up suddenly underneath and close up again.


No, but you could definitely become separated from your pack, preventing you from activating your PLB.
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Re: Police search for missing Blue Mountains bushwalkers

Postby GPSGuided » Sat 29 Nov, 2014 8:42 am

Allchin09 wrote:No, but you could definitely become separated from your pack, preventing you from activating your PLB.

True. But the recommendation is to keep one's PLB (note: P for personal) on oneself at all times. Irrespective, I think that having a full set of plans with AMSA for common reference is a good idea, irrespective of whether one has also left instructions with the police or family and friends. At the end of the day, there are certain risks with travelling solo.
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Re: Police search for missing Blue Mountains bushwalkers

Postby kjbeath » Sun 30 Nov, 2014 8:24 pm

There was a report of a solo bushwalker in Kosciusko who severely hurt his leg while collecting water, but fortunately had his PLB with him.
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Re: Police search for missing Blue Mountains bushwalkers

Postby Chris Dalton » Tue 16 Apr, 2024 4:44 pm

Recent events have caused me to reflect on this episode. I would like to explain what happened in a forum where people will understand better than most.

We were on a canyoning trip to Bell Creek on the Saturday, which I had led three times previously without incident. On this occasion, through laziness and stupidity, I didn't check the compass at the top of the hill after climbing out of Du Faur Creek and we went the wrong direction into a side creek which probably led back into Du Faur Creek. It took us a long time to climb back out of this creek once I realised were in the wrong place and it was dark by the time we were back on the ridge. The next day we went back into Du Faur canyon via another gully and by the time we got back to Joe's canyon, it was dark again. The rescue party met us near the exit track from Joe's canyon on the Monday morning.

This seems to be a common mistake in this area, for example see here https://www.david-noble.net/canyoning/2 ... ellCk.html and here https://huckanddyno.wordpress.com/2012/ ... mpt-24212/. There are other mentions of similar problems on various websites.

Up to this time, I had always used just a map and compass, ski touring, bushwalking and canyoning without a problem so getting a PLB or GPS had never occured to me. However, obviously a PLB would have been very useful here so that the rescue services did not have to waste so much time looking for us. I always carry one now, and a Garmin GPS with InReach/SOS capability.

I don't think registering your trip with the Police or NPWS would make a difference. While you can do this on line now and it is a requirement when buying a lift pass at Thredbo if you are going backcountry, I don't think these trip registrations are monitored unless someone notifies them there is a problem. Hence, telling someone where you are going is a good idea, but the InReach facility also takes care of this as long as you are conscious or with someone else. I guess this is all pretty obvious these days.

While this episode was a valuable lesson for me, mainly to check your bearings (d-uh!), the worst thing about it was the ritual humiliation the media were only too pleased to heap upon me and my friend Paul (who it must be said never once complained or panicked during the whole time we were out, despite not being as experienced as me).

The recent events I mentioned above are that, after nearly ten years of fear of further embarassment preventing me from revisiting the canyons around Mt. Wilson, I have finally decided to get back on the horse and start doing them again. I completed Bell Creek yesterday and it's still tricky to find the start, with all the overgrowth on the hill once you've climbed out of Du Faur Creek.

Hopefully things will continue to go well. I think it's time for seppuku if I had to be rescued again!
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Re: Police search for missing Blue Mountains bushwalkers

Postby sandym » Wed 17 Apr, 2024 6:06 pm

Thanks for posting. *&%$#! happens to everyone and the media, and sometimes even the bushwalking community, loves to make a big deal about these relatively infrequent episodes. If you spend your time sitting on the couch eating Krispy Kreme donuts until you turn diabetic and get your legs chopped off, the media will laud you as a hapless victim. If I wasn't worried that this comment would get censored, I'd say f888k 'em.
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Re: Police search for missing Blue Mountains bushwalkers

Postby Tortoise » Thu 18 Apr, 2024 6:29 pm

Hi Chris. Really glad you were able to get back on that horse, and congrats on completing Bell Creek. It sure looks stunning. Thanks for taking the time and being willing to post the inside story. I often reflect that even the most experienced folk can make mistakes for all sorts of reasons.
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Re: Police search for missing Blue Mountains bushwalkers

Postby puredingo » Fri 19 Apr, 2024 9:56 am

Ha! F888’em indeed Sandy,

I’m always getting turned around, no shame in that just keep an extra night up your sleeve and always pack more tucker than expected and barring injury with a bit of luck, and a cool mind, it’ll probably work out?

I was lost on one walk and had the panic starting to well up inside but eventually I tumbled out onto the fire trail I was expecting ages ago and although I was relieved I was also somehow disappointed….that was a weird one!!??
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