Splitting up and getting lost
"Should groups split up?. I asked Robin McNeill, President of Federated Mountain Clubs, a national organisation of outdoors groups, and author of “Safety in the Mountains”, published by FMC. His comment: “Stick together, no matter what—it saves time in the long run and prevents bad decisions.” follows; intentional separation, unintentional separation, other options for improving your chances. http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/ninetonoon/audio/201754782/off-the-beaten-track-with-kennedy-warne https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-3ADbmiNBi1Q/VQKfiGQpabI/AAAAAAAABao/99sz6xKx0bU/w1406-h809-no/017_stitch.jpg 'Leaving Lake Angelus on the Mt Cedric Route. Walking into cloud.'
Always stay togeather unless someone is hurt and there is a need for another group member to leave the group to go for help. Staying togeather is good for moral if one member is feeling tired or having trouble with the terrain. Nothing more depressing for the slowest member than to see the rest disappear ahead. Very unsafe too. Remember the old tramping rule: Always travel at the speed of the slowest member.
Lately I've wondered if a larger problem is sometimes with people having conflicting ideas about whether they're actually in a group or not.
There can be an argument for splitting a group in limited conditions but all the following must be met. There must be a good valid reason to split. This might be because some members cant complete the trip or only some members want to do a short side trip etc. Everyone must know and accept the reason. There must be a competent leader in both parts of the split group that is able and equipped to lead that portion to a safe conclusion. Both parts must have a plan to rejoin each other and a backup in case that does not happen. If that cannot be achieved then the group must not split even if it means the whole party has to change its objective ie turn back.
Splitting up seems to be the norm in the non-tramping club groups I've met on the trail. 'Maybe see you for lunch, if not we'll meet at the hut at the end of the day'. Guess as a solo tramper I can't criticise - so long as they realise the extra risk they're taking and are each self-sufficient. But when I see people waiting for the guy with the stove to arrive - now that I wouldn't do.
Ive just edited my previous post to include your comment on a split party having gear in both parts Thanks By tramping solo you know and understand the risks and accept the consequences if things dont go to plan. The times Ive travelled alone Ive done the same but when in a group you do assign a portion of that risk and responsibility onto the person in charge. They have to take that and make it work. Even a group Ive seen on a trip to powell had what appeared to be a person in charge even if they were all carrying a dozen cans (half of them empty by Mountain house)and they stayed together all the way.
I've seen it happen heaps, its usually when there are 2-3 members in the group and one or two are very slow and/or have maybe 'talked up' their experience or for whatever reason have ended up out of their depth and in the deep end. IMO its usually a lack of experience and over confidence or complacence thing. Usually its fine and members re-group but sometimes bad things can happen for obvious reasons.
If a group becomes two groups by time/distance, how much time… half an hour apart, or just reuniting for scrogg/lunch times? Or at the destination? I've often wondered this myself when we've been ahead or behind the other half by a considerable time/distance.
Thrust of the article seems to be about tailenders dropping off or being left behind. Not unusual for parties to split & rendezvous. It's when 'weaker' members are left and have to cope without support. Then you end up with people disappearing down the Wilkin or missing markers and running past the turn-off. Or shooting each other in crossfire. Our Club trips, tailender is an otherwise fit person, designated to keep an eye on things. Just part of being in a diverse group ?.
@JETNZ: "how much time… half an hour apart, or just reuniting for scrogg/lunch times? Or at the destination?" I don't mind being in a group which spreads out along a route. I like moving at my own pace and hate constantly walking into the pack of someone in front. But if I haven't seen someone for half an hour, or at least spoken to someone who's seen them, I'd normally stop and wait, or go back to find them. I'd expect others to do the same for me if there's a pretence of being in a group in which people have a dependence on each other. We'd normally regroup about every hour if not before, anyway, as well as any significant river crossings or route diversions where there's a reasonable possibility that someone might accidentally go a different way. For off-track nav situations, or places where maybe there's a higher-than-normal risk, everyone just sticks together, as it can be so easy to lose people otherwise. If it's left until the intended destination and someone doesn't show up, with no indication of where they might even be, you've really cut down options for dealing with whatever the cause is.
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