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Backpacker Magazine – October 2006

Lost: True Tales of Wilderness Treks Gone Desperately Wrong

From snowblindness to wrong turns, everyday wilderness adventures can turn ugly if you're not prepared for everything.

by: Jim Gorman


EXPERT ADVICE

1. Get real
"They overestimated their abilities and underestimated how long things really take," says Davis. "That's a common mistake." You should also know what specialized gear your route requires, such as rope and an ice axe.

2. Do your homework
"They made a critical error by failing to study maps," says Speik. "A call to the ranger might have revealed Pole Creek Trail as the best approach and pinpointed the climber's route that leads to the summit."

3. Use trails
"Bushwhacking is always a bad call when there's an approach trail going to your objective," says Davis. "There is no such thing as a shortcut in the backcountry." If you do need to go off-trail, be smart.

4. Practice at home
"Their GPS unit didn't malfunction," says Speik. "The users did." Learning to use a GPS is best done near home, where there's no penalty for mistakes. Also, pack extra batteries and a backup compass.

5. Leave word
"Cone and Zimmerman even botched the 'travel-itinerary-given-to-friends' part," says Hill. Tell someone you trust your license plate number, where you'll park, your route, when you'll call to say you're safe, and who to call if you don't.



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