Lunchbox's Disaster Roundup, 12-18 - Backpacker

Lunchbox's Disaster Roundup, 12-18

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

Lunchbox here: Getting ready to head back to the doghouse for the Holidays, but search-and-rescue operations keep distracting me. The Pulse's Steve Howe has already dropped major knowledge on the most recent Mt. Hood climbing disaster, but we've got an update, plus some lessons from the ski world:

Helmet saves 6-year-old girl who skied into a tree. First-grader Julia Griggs raced ahead of her father while downhill skiing at Minnesota's Afton Alps ski resort, slamming into a tree head-on. She broke bones in her face and broke her left leg, but doctors released her from the hospital early, saying that the helmet literally saved her life. According to the doc, "it protected her brain, and that's something that we can't really fix, unfortunately. The helmet kept her in perfect condition, so she is fine other than a few things that will heal up now with a little extra care."

Lunchbox's lesson: Little Julia's experience is a potent reminder not to forget the headgear while schussing or otherwise traveling at speed this holiday season. Common sense, but easy to forget until it's too late.

Chairlift malfunctions in Wisconsin, injuring 13. It's every resort skier's most potent nightmare: The chairlift malfunctions, gets a mind of its own and sends you careening toward disaster. This bizarre fever dream actually happened at Devil's Head Resort in Baraboo, Wisc.: For unknown reasons, a chairlift stopped suddenly and began moving in reverse at high speeds. Panicking boarders and skiers on the lift injured themselves by being thrown, jumping ship, or getting slammed into the wooden ceiling at the base of the lift. The chairlift operator attempted to stop the lift to no avail, and witnesses report seeing sparks flying from the machinery at the lift base.

Lunchbox's lesson: What we've got here is a genuine freak accident, folks. Some people bettered their chances of avoiding injury by jumping off the lift, but that's a risky proposition at best. First responders acted in quick fashion, though, possibly preventing deaths.

Mt. Hood climbing search now a recovery mission. Sadly, the window for rescuing two of the missing climbers on Hood has officially been turned into a recovery mission. Anthony Vietti, 24; Luke Gullberg, 26; and Katie Nolan, 29, all set out on a technical hike in an attempt to Summit Mt. Hood. Gullberg's body was found, but horrible weather has hampered search efforts for the other two, and rescue personnel put the other two's survival chances at less than 1 percent.

Lunchbox's lesson: It's been said many times before, but Hood can become an evil mountain—arguably the most dangerous popular mountain in the Lower 48. Even prepared, experienced hikers (as these three appear to be) can find themselves in a real pickle. Climbing Hood requires ultimate care, and even sometimes that's not enough if the weather turns. Condolences to the families involved.