Author Topic: Disaster in the Alps  (Read 1424 times)

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Offline daftandbarmy

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Disaster in the Alps
« on: September 15, 2018, 11:14:03 »
Disaster in the Alps

Beware ‘The expert halo’…. Good one:

The group also seems to have fallen into a trap known as the expert halo. On their own, the eight skiers were all experienced enough to check weather, research the route, and question the decision to set out in the first place. But because they’d hired an expert guide, they surrendered their decision-making to his. “We just did the trip, not planning. He was supposed to plan,” Piccioli said. “And this probably was a weakness from us. When you self-organize, you really care about things like maps and weather. But once you have a guide…,” his voice trailed off, and he sighed. “Nobody said anything because, probably, they all trusted him. Including me. They all trusted him and said, ‘OK, we’re just following him.’”

That is perhaps the biggest takeaway from the tragedy. “If I have something wrong and go to the doctor, I don’t just blindly trust that they’re making all the right decisions,” Remsberg said. “And I think people should approach the mountains that way, even if they’re hiring a guide to take them out. I would encourage people not to blindly hand over all responsibility to the guide, but to be a team member in the setting and approach it that way.”

https://www.outsideonline.com/2329041/chamonix-zermatt-alps-haute-route-disaster

"The most important qualification of a soldier is fortitude under fatigue and privation. Courage is only second; hardship, poverty and want are the best school for a soldier." Napoleon

Online Remius

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Re: Disaster in the Alps
« Reply #1 on: September 15, 2018, 13:30:54 »
Thanks for the article.

I have a morbid fascination with these types of disasters. 

Of note with the halo effect is the over reliance on tech.  Cellphones to navigate? Cool but not once was a compass mentioned.   

Planning seems to be the key though.
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Offline Colin P

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Re: Disaster in the Alps
« Reply #2 on: September 15, 2018, 14:52:01 »
In my experience the people that get hurt/killed are the beginners and the experts, one because they are unaware and the other because they feel their expert knowledge will protect them. we heavily discussed this issue as part of our dive team and we would all read coroner reports about diving deaths and discuss the chain of events that led to the accident. There is almost always a chain of events, being able to recognize that the chain is forming and interrupting it, is what will save you. I talk to people about their "psychological reserve", if something goes wrong such as a mask failure underwater, you use your training to deal with it and you feel that you have dealt with it and can carry on. However ever you have used up part of that psychological reserve and if there is another incident shortly thereafter your stress level is higher and your ability to rationally function is lessened. Generally the rescuers will elect to push on, regardless. This is where the Divemaster/On scene Commander needs to step in and determine if the rescuer is still competent to finish the task or needs to be pulled and replaced.

For a rescue scenario you generally have the luxury of such decision making and we also stop after the "possible rescue" time is finished and evaluate the risks as we are now in body recovery mode. In a combat situation you may not have the ability to pull out of the line and give your people the rest they need to think clearly, that's where all your training is needed to keep them functioning as safely as can be.     

Offline daftandbarmy

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Re: Disaster in the Alps
« Reply #3 on: September 15, 2018, 16:20:02 »
Thanks for the article.

I have a morbid fascination with these types of disasters. 

Of note with the halo effect is the over reliance on tech.  Cellphones to navigate? Cool but not once was a compass mentioned.   

Planning seems to be the key though.

I have been on several mountaineering trips with people who are suing the Gaia app, and it's excellent. But as always, you need backups, and a good map and compass is a must IMHO.
"The most important qualification of a soldier is fortitude under fatigue and privation. Courage is only second; hardship, poverty and want are the best school for a soldier." Napoleon

Offline Hamish Seggie

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Re: Disaster in the Alps
« Reply #4 on: September 15, 2018, 18:59:28 »
I’m not an adventurous person but contingency plans maybe? The what if.....
Freedom Isn't Free   "Never Shall I Fail My Brothers"

“Do everything that is necessary and nothing that is not".

Offline Furniture

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Re: Disaster in the Alps
« Reply #5 on: September 17, 2018, 13:51:55 »
Like Remius, I also have a morbid fascination with these types of disasters.

I found it interesting that the team pushed on into worsening conditions, following a guide that clearly had lost the track. I would have thought experienced people would have turned back and at least descended to a safer/more sheltered altitude.

Another thing I find interesting is that they were complacent about the weather, to the point they didn't even call the other hut to see what conditions on the ground there were. It's a trend I've noticed in many Canadians too. We take for granted that we will have a warm, dry place in winter, so we go out unprepared to spend time outside in the cold. People die every winter in North America because they go off the road, break down, or get stuck on a highway and have nothing appropriate to put on.

Online Remius

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Re: Disaster in the Alps
« Reply #6 on: September 17, 2018, 14:24:26 »

I think for me as an NCO having been in a position where I always questioned the plan, acting as second sober thought, verifying the map and where we were going and stopping the platoon commander when I thought we were lost or going in the wrong direction.  We take it for granted that experienced NCOs will do this. 

I have zero experience in the kind of mountaineering these folks were doing but one would think with that much experience between them that they would be checking and re-checking everything.  Questioning the guide etc.  Maybe the Halo effect is really what played into it.  Everyone has so much experience that they all think it will be fine.

Accurate Met reps would, to me, be high on the checklist of things to verify and confirm...   
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