Studying the stories of lost, injured, or missing wilderness adventurers can help us become better-prepared for survival scenarios we may face in the future. Many of these stories end on a positive note, with the individuals being rescued or making their way to safety, but there are also those that end in tragedy. These sad incidents can also offer insights that we shouldn't overlook. Last week, the Inyo County Sheriff's Office was notified that 40-year-old Alan Stringer, of Huntington Beach, CA, had gone missing after embarking on a hike near Bishop, CA. Three days later, his body was recovered by search and rescue personnel.
According to a statement by ICSO, Stringer set out alone for a day-hike on Sunday, November 3rd, into Inyo National Forest in the Eastern Sierra Nevada mountains. Concerns were raised when he did not return as planned on Monday. He reportedly did not disclose his specific plans or potential routes to anyone, but did have an InReach GPS locator/satellite communicator — unfortunately, that was “never activated” according to the statement. Stringer was said to be an experienced hiker who had participated in mountaineering training courses in the past.
If you've been reading our previous articles or studying survival skills, you'll know the first two lessons we're going to talk about. Number one: always let someone (ideally several people) know about your plans before you head into the wilderness. This might include your planned departure and return times, your route with as many specifics as possible, and what you're wearing — all information that can help rescuers find you quickly. Number two: even if you're experienced in the outdoors, it's always a good idea to bring a buddy on your adventures. That way, if something catastrophic happens to one of you, the other will hopefully be able to assist or call for help.
The third takeaway here is that even with steps taken to prepare, disasters can still happen. Stringer had cold-weather clothing, cramp-ons, and an ice ax for dealing with the frozen terrain. He took mountaineering courses to improve his skills. He carried a satellite communication device that could send an S.O.S. message with his exact location. Despite all these wise choices, things took a tragic turn — it's not yet clear exactly what happened, but it's possible that he became incapacitated and was unable to activate the device. His body was found on a glacier at the base of Mount Darwin.
Alan Stringer's wife is 37 weeks pregnant with their first baby. A GoFundMe was started on her behalf, and has already raised more than $20,000 to help with funeral and baby expenses.