Rescued! - Now Pay For It!

His name was Albert Dow and I knew him, albeit not very well. He was one of the sweetest people you’d ever want to meet and he certainly didn’t deserve to die because of someone else’s incredibly poor choices. Albert was part of the tightly-knit climbing community in the North Conway area and his death devastated a lot of people.

Yes, Herr has done amazing things and helped a lot of people, but he will never be able to bring Albert back. I have an odd mix of emotions about Herr; I despise his stupidity that cost Albert his life, but admire what he’s done since. Life is weird that way…

I’ve recorded “Augmented” and plan to watch it tonight.

Sing, I am 100% with you on charging for rescues. NH has a sensible policy that only targets the negligent and irresponsible, not those suffer unforeseeable accidents, injuries or illnesses. From what I’ve seen, it works as intended and should serve as a model for similar policies elsewhere. Individual freedom requires individual responsibility and that sometimes comes in the form of paying for your mistakes.

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Coming from someone who knew Albert just a bit… Can’t imagine what his family felt/feels…


Your number one goal when you go out is to not need rescue.
It is now very common for people to abuse SAR resources.
I agree that many people think if anything goes wrong they will just call for help.

I have had one backcountry emergency in my life after meeting up with a mountain lion and getting bucked off a mule. I broke my femur a long way from help in remote eastern Oregon. It was hard to get a phone signal. There were no helicopters available. I was hauled out of the woods and driven 90 miles on dirt roads to a ranch air strip and loaded into a fixed wing airplane.
EMTs administered morphine which was a gift from God. The plane ride cost $15,000 and my insurance paid only $5k.

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Considering that you’re alive to talk about it, I’d say that was $10K well-invested.

I really don’t buy the idea that people won’t call for help because they’re worried about the cost. If you’re in a life-or-death situation, I imagine that’s the last thing that would cross your mind. If you’re really that stupid…'nuff said.

The reality is we live in an echo chamber of non professionals giving advice and other non professionals validating that advice. I believe in logic the fallacy is named “Testimonial from an unqualified source”

You can’t fault people for wanting to try.

Now we can pass the fault to all the you tubers and bloggers making “Bush craft” videos from their back yards in San Diego. Because said they would give them 3% affiliates links if they drive traffic to there website via social media.

The ignorant have no Idea it’s total BS. The outdoor industry has become a lot like the fitness industry and the biggest irony to that was when Chad Hoover starting giving fitness advice from his Fishing channel because that what YouTube was pushing during the plandemic.

Do you have any sources with numbers to cite? Or is this just a whatever moment.

Should I have to pay my local fire and ambulance squads because I was stupid and reckless?

Well, I was riding my motorcycle and a person left turned in front of me. I was properly licensed, insured, going the speed limit, wearing safety gear, lights on.

I destroyed his left rear quarter panel with my right humerus. It was snapped Bugs Bunny broke. I paid 1200.00 for a 2 mile ambulance ride.

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Ouch ouch ouch ouch. You must be a tough person.

So, a couple of my friends have started to have vid cams attached to their bikes as well as for cars, because of situations as you discribed. It involves the matter of auto insurance and liability coverage. In one friend’s case, the cam video sided with her and the other driver was deemed liable.


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I shattered my tibia in four places in a downhill skiing accident when I was a teen. Yes, morhpine was “my friend”. My parents didn’t have health insurance and spent years to pay off the hospital bill and related costs. I was told never to ski again (I didn’t appreciate and wasn’t told then the financial burden I placed on them.) In college, I started downhill skiing again. I had to. I couldn’t accept going through life being afraid of something. I was self insured then through my college tuition payments (which actually my older working sister also helped in paying).



Hi sing,
Sounds familiar. I did a spiral tibia/fibula in a skiing accident in 1963. 4 breaks in the tib and 1 in the fib. I became a telemark skier soon after that. We have skied nearly all of the hills in Colorado with 3 pins and leather boots.

Nice! I started to try telemarking with my backcountry 3 pin x-country. I really liked it and wanted to do/learn more. But, I blew out ACL and half of my meniscus in the gym. My vision of telemarking down a deep powderly glade… Well, it remains a dream. A fading one at that. LOL!

I keep to snowshoes or xcountry on flat terrain these days.


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I was on a bicycle in a bike lane in SF passing cars stopped in the motor vehicle lane. Right in front of a FedEx truck was a gap that I didn’t see, and the car making the left into an alley through that gap didn’t see me either. I shoulder checked his rear quarter panel and folded over my front wheel.

SF has a law saying that if a commercial ambulance company is called (no mater who calls), there will be a $450-500 charge billed to someone just to go out. If it is the SF ambulances as part of the fire department, then no charge unless transport.

After the hit, I didn’t feel any major pain, but I sat for a minute to check and make sure adrenaline wasn’t hiding anything. Came up fine, but in that time an ambulance was called and it was the private company ambulance. They were sent away, but I knew to make sure to have insurance cover it.

In the end, the driver’s insurance paid for the wheel and the ambulance (about $800 total). $3k in damage to the car. Guess my shoulder is harder than I think it is.

As has been mentioned already, its easy with 20/20 hindsight to say someone should have done this or that, to call someone else a fool for making a mistake even a serious one. Its easy to lay blame on those who wound up needing rescue for the injuries, even the deaths of those who attempt the rescue. Its easy to bemoan the costs of those rescues.
But injuries can happen whether there is a mistake made or not. Many activities (and livelihoods) carry inherent risks that those who partake of those activities must accept and try to minimize. Paddling is such an activity, but I’d be disappointed in anyone who gave up paddling because there is the possibility of injury. Same with climbers, motorcyclists, bicyclists, rescue workers, the list is endless - Roofers, high steel workers, electricians, even farming, and heavy equipment operators… there’s risk involved in almost everything - including driving to those activities.
So we try to minimize. We accept that there is an element of chance that can be minimized but not eliminated. Albert Dow was killed by an avalanche during the search. Had he passed that spot ten minutes earlier or later we’d never know of it and he and his wife would be carrying on with their life today.
This is some professional discussion, from professional rescuers, excerpted from an Outside magazine article (Mechanical boy comes back by John Roberts) about the incident:

"David Warren, manager of the AMC hut system and a principal organizer of the search says, “It was an error in judgment to continue without their bivouac gear. But this has been blown all out of proportion by people who have never been in Huntington Ravine.” Adds Joe Lentini, director of the Eastern Mountain Sports climbing school in North Conway and a close friend of Dow’s, “I don’t have bitter feelings toward Jeff and Hugh. You can’t second-guess about errors in judgment. My bitterness is just that Albert was killed.” Rick Wilcox, a veteran mountaineer who is president of the Mountain Rescue Service of New England, says, “If you go climbing, you take chances. Jeff and Hugh did something you or I would do. We got away with it, they didn’t. We lost Albert. But that goes with the territory, too.”

To Ppine and others here: I have to say, in a way I have to envy you guys. I’ve broken my knee, shattered my fibula and broken my tibia, had a hip replaced, like most old guys I’ve taken a few hits - but in my case none of it involved doing anything as enjoyable as motorcycling, mule packing, climbing, or skiing. With me it was always at work. Just trying to make a damned buck… sigh

I agree with you that we should do the best to minimize the risks but stuff can and does happen. I think NH’s pay for rescue policy is targeted towards those who were deemed “unprepared” or “negligent”. My own stand is that one should pay for a rescue, regardless if one is prepared or not.

A related tidbit to what you posted, my brother-in-law’s best friend was one two young men who died in seperate incidents while ice climbing Tuckerman’s Ravine in 1983. The young man (kid) was an avid outdoorsman, a budding ice climber and a member of the AMC. He slipped on the ice sheet, tried to self-arrest with his ice-axe and failed. His was a case of recovery from the start. The deceased was a close friend of my brother-in-law from grade school through high school. They shared a mutual passion for fishing. I heard of his passing but didn’t know him personally.

A year or two after the incident, I was headed out to backpack, camp and flyfish out of Crawford Notch area, beginning at Ethan Pond. My wife (then girlfriend) agree to go out with me. I extended the invitation to her brother who accepted since I thought he would enjoy the trout fishing. Anyway, way up the Notch and into the backcountry, her brother started getting morose. Finally, he had an emotional fit and breakdown at the campsite. We aborted the backpacking trip and got him back out. Later, he admitted to be emotionally traumatized looking across the notch and seeing Mt. Washington. He remembered and still could not fully accept his best friend’s death. (To me, his friend died doing what he loved. It happens. Period.) My brother-in-law never attempted backpacking again.

The weird thing is that I have one of the deceased friend’s Orvis flyreel. He was an avid flyfisherman. My brother-in-law was/is a spin fisherman. The parents of the deceased passed on all his outdoor equipment to the friends of the deceased. My brother-in-law got the fishing equipment. My brother-in-law did/do not flyfish and so passed the Orvis reel to me. That reel (and accompanying flyrod) is up at my camp in western ME. There I have used to ply the Androscoggin, Magalloway and the remote but mighty Rapid River. I have had two incidents of nearly drowning in the Rapid and the Androscoggin. I managed to survive and learn from those incidents. I still love flyfishing and still using that fly reel almost 40 years after being the beneficiary of it as a result of someone’s death. I share a passion that was held by that deceased friend.



dumb question, do the rescue party HAVE to go out? many many years ago I went hiking with some friend of the AT in Vermont, hiked 10 miles stopped at a tent stop and we were just messing around , in less than 10 minutes I was lost, darkness just dropped on me, I yelled and yelled ( all my gear was at the tent stop, after about 15 minutes I just stopped , I wa son my own, no back pack, cell phones were just a Star Trek idea in 89, no food , no water, no tent, just me, started pouring rain , found some shelter under a brush , slept maybe 2 hours, hike out at sunrise, hiked all day by my self and pretty much ended right back where we made camp the night before, my friends left me a package of pop tarts and a note, they took my backpack, I meet them a few hours later following the trail. I was lucky to find my way back to the ranger station but at no time was I really thinking I was screwed. sometimes Sh*t happens, some times you get lucky sometimes you need help. I was young and dumb that day but sometimes that is how you learn.

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In the words of Eleanor Roosevelt and others who have been quoted saying similar things, “Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.”


A life well lived involves some risk.

On the other hand, bad experiences a long way from help can leave some trauma.

I agree in principal. But I’m not sure it should be hard and fast regulation. I have an example from my own experience of what might be such a possible exception. I’ll try to be brief…

A long long time ago I did a weekend canoe trip, the first with my future ex-wife. She had a van for transport, I had the canoe. We planned to do two nights out ending our trip at Starved Rock State Park in Illinois. The grand finale of the trip was locking through the 30’ dam at the park and taking out at the boat landing just below the dam. It was a trip I’d done many times in my high school and jr high years. At the last minute a friend, housemate, a wood worker, asked to use the van for the weekend to pick up a load of beautiful curly maple that he found for next to nothing but he had to salvage it in a Chicago factory and transport it that weekend. So we arranged for him to drop us off, use the van, and pick us up on Sunday mid-afternoon at the Starved Rock landing.

The trip went without a hitch, island camping and paddling through beautiful weather. We got to the dam ahead of schedule but -surprise - the lock at the dam was closed for reconstruction. In all the years paddling there I’d never seen or heard of such a thing - there’s a lot of barge traffic that relies on that lock and a great deal of commercial loss would result from closing it, but there it was before us: closed.

The park, on river right, is a several hundred foot high sandstone cliff and the cliffs ran for miles upstream and without landings. River left was rip rapped about 20’ over the water and topped with chain link fence. No take out there… but there was a marina about a mile upstream on river left that would do in a pinch, but Charlie (the wood worker) wouldn’t know to look for us there and this was long before cell phones.

No problem… there was a little beach, barely longer than the canoe at the base of a cliff near the dam and maybe 10’ over it a big ledge where we could hang out in relative comfort . Over that ledge was another narrower one that could be walked to round the cliff face and which led to a gully that could be climbed up to a trail that could be taken to the park proper and the boat landing. I’d just climb up there, hike out, meet Charlie at the landing, tell him to meet us at the marina, go back and paddle upstream and across the river and take out there. I’d brought enough cash to take him out for a burger or something to end the trip.

So I got to the landing on time. And waited. And waited. It was crowded with tourists and kids. They were buying hot dogs and parents were drinking beer from stands. Quite a change from quiet river tripping. Mid afternoon turned to early evening and no Charlie. I made a few phone calls from a pay phone to the house we shared but there was no answer - and this was before answering machines, too. (Guess they don’t use tubes) . Finally there was nothing left to do but dig into my after trip burger fund, buy a hot dog for Anita (future ex-wife) and go back. We set camp and spent a frosty extra night out, but we had some food, coffee, and water left - it was no dire situation. Quite a nice night out actually. The river was beautiful in the moonlight with lights from the dam twinkling across the ripples.

Next morning we decided to switch off taking four hour shifts at the boat landing, making calls to our house and mutual friends who might know if he’d been in an accident or what happened. Nobody was answering calls - what the heck was up? And sitting on that ledge watching the dam and the humming birds who enjoyed the flowers that we were camped near. Every hour or so there was a guy who came and walked the dam - checking gauges and flows, we supposed. There must be things to tend to on a hydro plant that large, we figured, even if the locks were shut down. So every hour or so whoever was on the ledge waved to the guy, and he waved back. Friendly folks on the river.

Late on the next day, when we were wondering if we’d have to pitch the tent again for another night Anita waved to the guy, he slapped his forehead, and a half hour later a DNR jon boat came over to the beach.

Turns out Charlie was looking for a boat at the landing, not a person. When he didn’t find it he reported us “lost at sea” and went home to tell everyone we were probably dead. They went to the bar to drink to our beloved memories. We were more beloved than either of us knew and they drank a lot. No one we knew stayed home by the phone, there was mourning to attend to. The guy on the dam was Coast Guard and he was looking for our bodies or our canoe to be caught up in the turbine grates. (Who knew there was Coast Guard on a mid western river?)

And thus we were “rescued”. If someone had tried to charge me a fee for that though, I assure you I would have contested it.


Two different approaches to Columbus Day weekend in the Adirondacks.

It is a lovely mild and sunny Saturday, sunny, so a few people start up one of the trails that they probably would have avoided in worse weather. Make it to the top of a moderate mound, not Marcy, and realize that the platform sneakers they went up in will not safely get them down thru the more wintry situation at the top. And they are cold because the rest of their prep was along the lines of the platform sneakers. Inadequate clothing, gear, knowledge etc.
But there is cell phone service. So they call for rescue to get down.

Second approach. A group goes up properly clothed with the right equipment, ability to stay on the trail and overall fitness. They are ready for one of the somewhat rougher trails but shit happens and one of them loses their footing. Suffers a severe sprain or something broken. They wrap and splint the situation as best they can but they are not walking out.
There is cell phone service, so they call for rescue.

Both of these have happened.

I don’t see charging the second group anything - this was one of those things that can go wring when you have done everything right.
But the first group needlessly tied up resources that might have been needed for the second. And is due for a lesson.

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