Lunchbox's Disaster Round-Up, 01-18

The beloved star of our in-book feature "The Predicament," Lunchbox the Cadaver Sniffing Dog, brings you a round-up of this week's outdoor predicaments, disasters, and near-misses

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Hey kids, Lunchbox here: I’m back at my new home on Mondays, which suits me just fine because on Fridays I was just as itching to get outside and play as you all are. It also means I’ve had time to run off all my energy before digesting a full week’s worth of predicaments.

With that in mind, let’s get to it:

Haiti still in crisis. With perhaps tens of thousands already dead, hundreds of thousands of Haitian earthquake victims still face dire and life-threatening circumstances. This is a survival situation on a massive scale, with no apparent end in sight. As survival blogger Steve Howe already mentioned, it’s going to take a world’s worth of help to keep things from getting worse.

Lunchbox’s lesson: Here’s where you come in: Plenty of charitable organizations are taking donations, but if you’ve got SAR experience, extra vacation time, or medical expertise, consider lending your time to volunteer. You can get started with Doctors Without Borders,Medicine for Peace,Unicef, or Hospital Albert Schweitzer.

Colorado’s first avalanche death. Last week, Vail ski patrol recovered the body of a Minnesota man missing since Jan. 6 in a backcountry area accessed from a gate by the resort’s popular Blue Sky Basin. Skiers had spotted the snowboarder, whose official cause of death was listed as hypoxia. The victim had worked at Vail last season. He was found buried on a 32-degree slope facing north, considered prime avalanche terrain.

Lunchbox’s lesson: In “slackcountry” terrain just beyond a ski area, it’s very possible to feel safer than you are—in fact, just a few days before, Vail closed Blue Sky Basin after an in-bounds slide, so warning signs were plenty. It’s easy to ignore basic safety if you’ve been lucky in the past, but slackcountry skiing demands proper avvy knowledge, including being able to properly assess avalanche terrain, having a beacon and knowing how to use it, and knowing how to dig someone out of an avalanche. Even then, this snowboarder’s chances weren’t good; he appeared to be riding alone, which means there was no around one to dig him out.

Maine man survives winter night on New Hamphshire’s Mt. Moosilauke. A 64-year-old man caught got caught by whiteout conditions in an attempted summit bid on New Hampshire’s Mt. Moosilauke last Friday. Knowing he couldn’t make it down, the man built a snow cave to try and last through the night. When searchers prepared to head out again the next day, they received word that he made it out safe on his own and without injury.

Lunchbox’s lesson: This successful survivor did just about everything right (except perhaps check the weather or turn back when things got dicey). He left an itinerary with friends, so searchers were looking in the right area, and SAR crews reported that he was well prepared with winter gear and skills. Finally, rather than stumble about trying to find his way in a snowstorm, he avoided hypothermia and panic by hunkering down to wait out the night. Well done, sir.