Discussion in 'Located Persons Discussion' started by FrostOwl, Nov 29, 2020.
Imagine driving up or down the Salvaguardia by car....
It sounds to me like she was just existing as opposed to living and that maybe she needed in her life, the things she actively tried to escape from : structure and normality. It’s like everything in life, when it’s something that you love to eat or drink or something activity wise that you enjoy or the place that you love to go to vacation- once in a while it’s exciting and joyous and bliss but engaging in these rationed pleasures is what keeps us wanting to achieve in order to facilitate doing these things again but when it’s all of the time, day in and day out, it ceases to become a treat and becomes a normalcy and sometimes ultimately a burden. Too much of a good thing and all that…..
This is my first time posting on Websleuths even though I've been reading everyone's posts about ED since it started. I developed an unhealthy obsession with the tragedy in January when I was 'disappeared' myself for various reasons, and isolating whilst hiding from domestic abuse, unable to let anyone know my whereabouts. ED's story touched me for that reason, but I don't imply anything about DC: he's been cleared, seems a nice man, and that's that. I'm safe now, but still worried about ED.
At the time, people were being very clever about reflections in her sunglasses in the selfies. My difficulty with the social media posts is that one can create a timeline without someone being there if you have access to their phone and the photos on it. I didn't see much questioning of how beneficial it might have been for a potential assailant to post things after ED had been attacked/killed/hidden.
I noticed on looking at the map around Pic de Sauvegarde that the shortest/quickest route out of the mountains (after a short walk) is via car, and on the way is a lake. If someone has killed ED or disposed of her body after an accident, I imagine it might be there, simply because it would be difficult to travel anywhere during Lockdown with a body (even in the boot of car) during Lockdown. I don't understand why police haven't searched there (unless they have and we don't know)
Speculation about the van light being on after the investigation started is spurious (it was it the Daily Mail just this week) as police officers have already said that was them. Also, perhaps useful is that I've actually been to Benasque, not too far from Pic de Sauvegarde. I was very young (13) and found it wonderful.
When ED is in the shop, is she buying fruit and nuts? I don't know why the shop assistant is showing a big long receipt if she is only buying a couple of things? Why are four women required to help ED? Why does ED pinch the back of her leg and slap the back and front and then the knee? Is she wakening a dead leg, or does she notice the CCTV camera towards the beginning of the footage and is signalling something?
Perhaps I'm overthinking but I can't help wondering if her worried look indicates that someone is waiting for her. Is she trying to indicate it whilst being watched? Is she asking for help in order to send a message to the shop workers, but the language barrier is too much for them to understand? Perhaps I'm working overtime here.
Also, I agree with some assertions (from my experience in the region) that, especially for experienced walkers, the walking routes wouldn't be that taxing. Whilst I'm wondering all these things about an assailant, ED also seems to have made some strange nutritional decisions.
Some athletes long for 'lightness' and eat less than they should. I know when I'm feeling low or preoccupied I sometimes just forget to eat, when normally I love my food. If ED was just worried, rather in any kind of conflict with DC, she could just have got low blood sugar at high altitude and had a falling accident. At this point she has been hiking for six years -s he may have got over-confident about being on a peak in November with low resources. Is it possible someone would hide the body rather than risk accusation?
Just thoughts. And sorry if they're not as organised as they were when I had them first when I read the dossier back in January - which to me seems very partial, and not taking into account the vagaries of social media and tech, or the limited means of transport out of the area - unless one knows the area well and has a car or van. Any thoughts?
None of my ideas are intended disrespectfully to anyone in the family or her partner. I also care about ED because I don't want the mystery of her disappearance to mean she is forgotten, as I have been. I feel it's very important women are protected in the wild - otherwise most women will not experience the tremendous beauty of being in nature due to not being protected from harm through society gendering natural spaces. Women should be able to walk alone safely in nature.
Oh, and also, in relation to her Insta posts, did anyone else notice that on other summits the platforms specify which mountain she's on, but when it's Sauvegarde it just says "Pyrenees"? I realise coverage will vary, especially in the mountains, but that doesn't fit for me with the wat tourist boards are usually on top of that stuff for the sake of their social media coverage by hikers and climbers? Saying all that, I think I need omelette. God I hope she's safe - and if she isn't it was just some freak accident and she didn't suffer. I can't imagine the pain of those close to her.
Welcome to Websleuths, Poirotoupierrot (cool name)!
You gave us a lot to think about.
Sept mois sans nouvelles de la randonneuse anglaise : Esther Dingley, l'autre disparue des Pyrénées
Seven months without news of Esther Dingley
It was right behind this mountain range, on the Spanish side, that Esther gave her last sign of life, on Sunday 22 November 2020. In the centre, you can see the Venasque stream flowing.
For weeks this spring, Esther's companion clocked up hours of hiking. "I examined closely the low-lying parts of the region, paying particular attention to the woods immediately bordering her [supposed] route, the possible alternative paths, [and the whole] valley [...] up to the village of Benasque".
Contacted by Actu Toulouse, the Saint-Gaudens public prosecutor, Christophe Amunzateguy, spoke of the progress of the case:
"I have to review the situation with the investigators but the search will resume very soon. We decided to wait for the summer season, because the area where this young woman hypothetically passed, on the French side, was very difficult to access in winter. The weather conditions and the snowfall had forced us to suspend these searches. In particular, we are planning to probe the lakes and scan the whole environment, which will have changed a lot between November and today..."
A dangerous mountain range
For French justice, the hypothesis of kidnapping is clearly not favoured. "The Spanish investigators who are in charge have not told us of any known criminal trail," according to the prosecutor:
"Evidence of the ongoing investigation show that this young woman considered that the mountains were easy and that two screen copies on the Internet were enough [to go hiking], without necessarily considering the danger."
I am aware of, but do not want to participate in, the many posts surrounding possible relationship issues and possible mental issues. I won’t write them off completely, but many marriages and partnerships seem to have very similar problems, but people do struggle through and I can’t see any causality that would lead to a planned disappearance.
Here is my theory.
ED wants to get out but the French impose a covid lockdown.
ED drives to Spain which is not locked down but DC cannot accompany as he is working a house sitting job.
ED aborts one trip three days earlier due to bad weather, then there is a break on Nov21 and ED hikes to Pic de Sauvegarde to turn on her phone and make contact with DC and presumably other family/friends at the same time, then turns the phone into aeroplane mode to save batteries and heads for Cabane de la Besurtas to spend the night.
The next day, the 22nd, I believe ED sets out back up the hill toward Refuge Venasque via Portillón de Benasque but finds there is no cell phone service at the Portillón de Benasque, so again heads up to Pic de Sauvegarde to make contact which she does for 40 minutes between 3:30 and 4:10 pm.
Then ED once again turns her phone to airplane mode and sets out to make the hike from Pic de Sauvegarde to Refuge Venasque via Portillón de Benasque.
The sun would be low and the French side in dark shadow culminating in a loss of light a little earlier than the scheduled sunset at 5:23 pm that day.
ED is traversing a lightly marked trail out of season (May to October) on a cold late afternoon on a route “only recommended for very experienced adventurers.”
Alltrails review says (https://www.alltrails.com/trail/fra...sque-pic-de-sauvegarde-pas-de-l-escalette?u=i) “On the other hand, difficult to access the sauvegarde in good conditions, very slippery climb with a lot of rocks.” and ED would have been going down, not up.
There may have been some local icing conditions on the trail where a handrail was provided near slippery rocks. It would have been getting fairly dark and she was using a head torch that may not have had a terribly good light spread (review of the Petzl Bindi headtorch including night test showing light spread ()). It is OK for night time trail use but marginal when traversing a steep slope mountain especially alone and not having the benefit of other lights nearby.
At some point ED may have slipped and was incapacitated or otherwise unable to successfully control her velocity and fell down to the lake Boum de Venosque.
Pictures of the route showing steep slippery trail - imagine navigating this in the darkening evening with a 200 lumens headlight:
Pic de sauvegarde
Hi, welcome to the forum (or to posting on the forum, sounds like you've been reading on here for a while).
Are you sure it would be that dark on the French side at that time? That side of the Pic is sort of NW facing I believe so not necessarily in dark shadow at sunset, but of course that would depend on other factors like other peaks obscuring the sun. Following the sunset time there is usually around 40 minutes of "dusk time" before the sun is truly below the horizon, but again depending on terrain. That could take it up to about 6PM.
I'm sure you're right that visibility would likely be reduced at that time but I wonder if we know if enough so to warrant use of a headtorch?
Not sure this particular link has been posted already, but there are some great shots here I hadn't seen before --> Pyrenees (especially on the second page of the short thread) that give an idea of the terrain for the route down to the Refuge de Venasque (though they went the other direction to ED's proposed route).
FYI Last time she was seen, the weather was warm and Esther was wearing a T-shirt with short sleeves, and leggings. No doubt her jacket was in her backpack, dressing in layers is common during a hike.
Thanks for that information. I thought Marti Vigo del Arco had mentioned that ED was wearing shorts when they met at 3pm but now I can't find it. Anyone got a link to his full statement?
Yes the shaft of light from the Port de Venasque one caught my attention as well. I think that shot does make it appear like the slope down to the lake is very treacherous and a high risk, but much earlier in the thread this was discussed and I think more close up shots of the paths in that area made it appear much safer (wide paths) and less steep.
Thanks for the Shadowmap link, very useful.
Your link, for me, showed the shadow conditions for now (ie June) but this link shows it for the time/date ED disappeared Shadowmap
and it's quite a different picture, and supports what you said originally about the potential darkness at that time (so I see where you were coming from now ).
Yes, the trail from Port de Venasque down to the refuge does not look too ominous in good weather and lighting conditions. Here are some hikers running down part of the trail (dated 2017)
Back in thread #1 Curious-A wondered if there was a GPS / Satellite phone being carried. That led me to re-read the equipment list in the dossier (https://42cc80b7-be3b-41e3-a85b-18b...d/4addd9_d8c55b489c6f445b96d6324dd882f5a1.pdf). At first read it had sounded reasonable, well though out, light, and professional. It was ok for two or more hikers wanting to travel together fairly quickly on a route no more than a day or two walk from a supermarket.
But for a solo hiker, in the Pyrenees, a month beyond the season with winter approaching, it may have been the perfect storm. Let me explain.
A small accident that would be trivial when assisted by one or more companions, can immediately put a solo hiker in a serious survival situation.
Thinking about it, there were a few things missing from the equipment list for that latitude/geography/time of year.
1. What I would add:
Bright clothing. Flares. Space blanket. Survival rations. Extra stove fuel. Compass. Mirror. Whistle. 2 knifes, a Ka-bar and a Swiss Army penknife. Binoculars. Bubble pack of BIC lighters. Firelighters. Extra socks. Powerful torch with spare batteries. First aid kit with trauma dressings, tweezers and tourniquets. Accurate clockwork wrist watch with luminous dial. Water filter. Spare cellphone.
Luxury items - folding shovel, toilet paper, clockwork radio, duct tape, paracord lanyard, extra container for ‘dirty water’ collected that you want to filter later or just fill and leave for pickup on the way out.
2. Maps.me is OK but what about a device that shows current location, allows planning and navigating routes including all known trails, set and manage waypoints, see detailed up to date weather plus 3 day forecasts, 2-way satellite messaging and SOS facility, like the Garmin Inreach offers?
3. Expectations that a solo hiker will be dropping out of touch for a day or more when they don’t have some kind of immediate SOS ability are unacceptable, doubly so if the planned route is uncertain, since the panic line for the folks back at base to even start to ask for a search for the hiker can then stretch out to two or three days AT BEST, more like a week to get the LE/SAR on it since they too have to be convinced there is something wrong and already the hiker, presumably immobile, is getting close to the end of the likely survival time limit even as the search starts to spin up.
4. This major solo hiker vulnerability can be mitigated by either carrying a satellite device like Garmin Inreach or similar, or if connectivity is expected to be spotty, arrange definite 10 minute time bands at 4 to 8 hour intervals where a quick ‘solo hiker OK’ message can be sent, and plan the route around the available connectivity checkpoints. Two consecutive communication ‘misses’ and base gets LE/SAR right on it.
I have been told that SAR would rather go for a helicopter ride (that is the job they applied for and enjoy, by the way) to the stated time checkpoint location, spot red smoke nearby and find a happily waving trekker making broken cellphone gestures, than deal with a panicky base that is not really sure where the solo hiker is supposed to be, where they were headed, or when they would next call in, and this all days after the last known sighting.
5. So the perfect storm could have happened not only due to transitioning to a different light level - it was also the transition from a safe day hike for which she was equipped, into a potentially deadly situation with no communication and no other hikers around or likely to be around, and ED may not have spotted that change early enough to correct her route decision.
Esther Dingley: French and Spanish police carry out search
Esther Dingley: French and Spanish police carry out search
A spokeswoman for the Spanish authorities said about 20 French officers were searching the French side of the border near the mountain top while 10 Spanish officers were doing the same on the Spanish side.
A French helicopter is also being used, the spokeswoman said.
A French police source told the BBC the operation was being led by the gendarmerie's mountain specialists.
The source said they were unable to say how long the search would go on for as that was dependant on the weather.
Esther Dingley had been due to walk down the Venasque Valley (just left of the centre of the picture) from the Pic de Sauvegarde above it
I pray they find her soon. Has there been any mention of the lakes?
Sigue sin dar resultados la búsqueda de la montañera Esther Dingley
The search for hiker Esther Dingley is still without results
French Gendarmes and members of the GREIM of Benasque have carried out, this Thursday, a day's search for the woman who disappeared 7 months ago.
This Thursday, with the coordination of the Gendarmerie, on the French side, and personnel from the GREIM of Benasque and the Air Unit, on the Spanish side, a day's search was carried out for Esther Dingley, who disappeared on 25th November while she was carrying out a mountain hike on the Salvaguardia peak in the municipality of Benasque.
The rescue helicopter of the Guardia Civil, based in Benasque, has flown over the southern slope of the Salvaguardia peak and the Glera pass, and some members of the GREIM have carried out an inspection on foot on the Spanish side of the Sacroux peak and the vicinity of the Tuca de Gorgutes, but the search efforts have been unsuccessful.
The press office of the Guardia Civil command in Huesca informs that a search will continue from time to time, when the demands for the service due to summer rescues allow it.
It should be remembered that Esther Maria Dingley, a 37-year-old British-Dutch national, disappeared on 22 November while hiking in the Pyrenees. Three days later her family reported her missing and her campervan was found parked in Benasque. At the time of her disappearance she was wearing a short-sleeved T-shirt, black leggings and hiking boots.
Pictures: Guardia Civíl
"We plan to explore the lakes and scan the entire environment, which will have changed a lot between November and today," Christophe Amunzateguy, the Saint-Gaudens public prosecutor, told the local French news website.
Pyrénées : une randonneuse britannique disparue depuis plus de sept mois
Progress! And great insights from some new participants on this case. Like @stmarysmead and several others, I still believe the answer to ED's disappearance lies deep at the bottom of Boum de Vanesque or another lake nearby. So anxiously awaiting further deep water search results.