Discussion in 'Located Persons Discussion' started by FrostOwl, Nov 29, 2020.
‘No trace’ of missing British hiker Esther Dingley, despite massive police search
Snipped for focus...
I agree there are some things missing... The socks struck me, too, as did the lack of any kind of first aid, matches, fuel...
Some of the other things would go in the category of "more is not more" IMO. If you take too much, you can get bogged down and put yourself in danger.
ED's pack wasn't built for all those items.
Personally, I wouldn't take several of the items on your list: they weigh too much. I'd never take a poop spade, for instance: I use an ultralight tent snow peg. For starting fires, I carry a few birthday candles of the sort that you can't blow out. I also take cotton balls dipped in vaseline. On the other hand, I would have taken a child's toothbrush and baking soda.
And I'm almost certain she didn't have appropriate maps. She'd need a paper map. A smart phone map is way too small for a trip like this because you can't see context.
More importantly, the temperature was substantially below freezing at night. Per the inventory, ED had summer mountain gear, not winter. ED's sleeping bag rating was not up to that, nor her tarp/tent. The safest place to stay would have been the Refuge: it would have kept the wind off her and kept her at a safe temperature.
Unfortunately, ED had tried a makeshift bivvy a few days before by using an unpitched tent and squeezing it between rocks. She was lucky nothing terrible happened. This may have given her a false sense of do-ability.
And if she didn't bring enough calories to keep warm...
Trails can look EZ PZ when the conditions are right. November is not "right" conditions for a traipse through the Pyrenees, especially solo. And there are places where those trails would have been frosty and slick.
On the subject of the Bindi headlamp.... The biggest problem for me with these is that they only last for 2 hours max (optimal temperature) before dying. On her standard list, ED seems to have carried a charger, and that might sound fine. But she may have forgotten to charge the Bindi before she left town. Which means, darkness was coming and no light to make it down the trail. She may have hurried to beat darkness.
I actually think ED went back down the other side, down the path to the Cabane. So far, there's only vague, uncertain, reference to almost any aspect of a trip past the lakes.
The lakes. The lakes. The lakes.....
Fb post from Dan
Thank you for the continued messages. Over the past weeks I have also received quite a few messages asking if there is any update regarding the search for Esther.
As some of you will have already seen in the media, a major search and rescue operation this past week (involving both French and Spanish personnel) still failed to find any sign of Esther. I am grateful they are doing this work in addition to the continued police investigations in each country.
For my part, I have continued to search these past months as well, zig-zagging across the mountainsides surrounding Esther's last known location and her known route. I've walked about 700 miles now and also found no sign of her. I will continue to expand my search in the weeks and months ahead.
For indicative reasons, I've included a Google Earth projection below this post showing my GPS tracks (in red), surrounding Esther's planned route (in green). Ideally I would also include photographs and scale bars, but for brevity I won't do so here. Please bear in mind, this is only my walking in the immediate area of Esther's route. It also doesn't include the extensive Search and Rescue work or the countless tourists now filling the region.
A few weeks ago I was joined for a day by a journalist who writes for the Sunday Times magazine. His piece about Esther will be published in tomorrow's magazine if you can get your hands on a copy.
In the weeks ahead I intend to share more details of my search activities to explain my continued doubts about the accident hypothesis. Not because I doubt the possibility of an accident, far from it, but because in all my miles of walking I am yet to find a place where somebody would completely vanish. This, combined with the good weather she had, Esther's habit of following paths (which are well made and easy to follow in the area) and the good mobile signal just beyond her last known location, are the reasons I remain baffled to explain a straightforward mountain accident. It is hard to convey in such a short message, but the area Esther was hiking in is simply not that remote or complex. And, while she may have been there in November, the weather was very good, with an almost full moon at night and clear skies.
Fjnally, in light of the continued absence of any sign of Esther, I want to reiterate the importance of building a clear picture of exactly who was in the area she was hiking in during the days between Esther's last contact and her failure to appear as planned (22-25 November last year). No matter how obscure or trivial it might seem, if you were in the area or know somebody who was, please, please contact LBT Global using the details below. Your information can be completely anonymous.
LBT Global Hotline: +44 (0) 800 098 8485
WhatsApp: +44 (0) 7545 826 497
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My only question about Dan's letter above is that he makes no mention of the lakes that seem to be very near the many hiking routes there and that have been discussed by experienced hikers here who think her ending up in one of them a decent possibility. Why no mention of the lakes?
Looking at those GPS tracks DC's coverage of the wooded areas to the north of the Refuge de Venasque , and also the area around Cabane de la Besurtas, is pretty extensive!
I guess that's because the lakes will be covered by the search teams, they've already stated that intention (as per post #387 above--> Spain - Esther Dingley, from UK, missing in the Pyrenees, November 2020 #5)
I agree, certainly until the lakes have been ruled out. If they are ruled out then it could start to look a bit more sinister, with the third party involvement theory gaining more plausibility.
Another data point. As ED departed last known location (Pic Sauvergarde) at approx. 4:10 pm local time on Nov 22nd 2020, the rising moon would have been in the first quarter at 17 degrees above the horizon at a heading of 130 degrees (South East). By 6pm it would have been at an attitude of 29 degrees heading 156 degrees (SSE).
Moonrise, Moonset, and Moon Phase in Col de la Glère, November 2020
The Sunday Times Magazine article (paywall)
I know, but he did refer to the search teams. He just never mentions the lakes. He seems to really lean toward "crime victim", but it seems from many here a huge possibility is accident with her ending up in a lake. I was just surprised -thought he would have mentioned it.
There seems to be very little info about the searches on the French side.
I wonder how they searched the Lacs de Boum.
The upper lake is situated at an altitude of 2248 m, has a surface area of 9.6 hectares (96000 square metres) and a depth of 46 metres. (source Wikipedia and others.) IMO an in-depth search would require divers and a boat with sonar. And/ or sniffer dogs, the ones that detect human remains. The water of the lakes is very clear at the sides, towards the deeper sections it gets darker.
IMO again, if Esther Dingley had fallen with full gear into the lake from the top of the Salvaguardia, at least the hiking poles would have been found on the way down, and maybe even the backpack.
While I would like to see Esther located the sooner the better, I am also glad that Dan has not found her. And I hope that he will not be the one to find her, please let someone else carry that burden for him.
A friend of mine did find his missing partner, the sight has stayed with him all these years, a returning nightmare that he cannot forget.
Life will be hard enough for Dan anyway.
The Sunday Times
“I can’t imagine any pleasure in a future that doesn’t involve Esther”
Seven months ago Esther Dingley vanished on a solo trek in the Pyrenees. Her partner of two decades, Dan Colegate, is trying to find her
Regarding the lakes in the region. Do they warm up enough that dead bodies will rise? (I just read that Lake Superior doesn’t.)
And, even if they do, is there the possibility of deadwood snagging someone’s clothing and preventing a rise to the surface?
I apologize for the morbidness of these questions.
I know what you mean, though I'm pretty sure in the past he has mentioned this and expressed the view that he thinks it highly unlikely that she would have fallen into one of the lakes.
I'm just hoping they can get them checked out once and for all before the weather turns wintry up there again.
Indeed, with all the searching DC is doing it's an awful thought to imagine if he was to be the one to actually find her (especially if he's out there on his own). Sorry to hear about your friend's experience.
They are quite clear lakes and were initially checked by drones overhead, plus her backpack is missing and even if the body didn’t surface (which is dubious in itself at this point), other items would have done and been noticed
It’s a lot smaller a set of lakes and the water won’t keep a body cold for long, unlike Lake Superior. The edges of the lakes appear quite shallow as well. If you fall into somewhere with no ebb or tide, it’s unlikely you would be moved enough to get tangled. I haven’t ruled out the lake theory, but I also think DC has a point.
Esther Dingley: Partner baffled by no signs of her
In an interview with The Sunday Times, Mr Colegate also said he did not believe she had vanished deliberately or taken her own life, adding: "Esther would not leave her family or myself in the dark like this."
Mr Colegate told the paper kidnap was a possibility, adding: "A horrifying prospect but it does mean there's a part of me in my gut that feels Esther could still be out there alive."
He appealed for anyone who was in the area at the time, "no matter how obscure or trivial it might seem", to report to LBT Global who are handling Ms Dingley's case.
IMO The Sun borrowed a lot from the paywalled interview in The Sunday Times. I snipped some bits. I hope they are all from the same interview, but there is no way to know.
Esther Dingley wouldn't leave us in dark if she was alive, says boyfriend
Speaking to The Times, Dan said: "Esther would not leave her family or myself in the dark like this.
"The idea that she would harm herself at a time in her life when she was happy and had so much opportunity ahead of her, and do so in a way that she would be completely vanished, doesn’t fit."
"I’ll keep going until I can look at the map and say, 'She’s not there'. I’ll keep going until there’s nowhere to look," he said.
"I can’t imagine any pleasure in a future that doesn't involve Esther.
"It’s very difficult to process something when you don’t know what’s happened. My feeling is I’m very much in limbo."
"Esther was very, very comfortable and competent in the mountains. These trails wouldn’t have troubled her," Dan said.
"It doesn’t mean she couldn’t have slipped - but if she slipped, where is she? That’s what I can’t get my head around."
He added: "Esther knew better than most how to fuel her body and how to look after herself, underlined by the many much more demanding solo trips she had safely completed."
"She may have been forced to go with someone at gunpoint," he said.
"A horrifying prospect, but it does mean there’s a part of me in my gut that feels Esther could still be out there, alive. Part of me requires a seed of hope just to get up each day."
Dan, a talented ice hockey player, described how he was the first focus of the police investigation, with detectives searching the couple’s French house-sit in a village 100 miles north of the Pyrenees.
"They searched the house, looked in all the wardrobes, pulled the cover off the swimming pool. They went through everything.
"I was glad they got it out of the way. But I never felt like a suspect. I couldn’t possibly have had anything to do with Esther’s disappearance. I was 100 miles away, with only a push bike for transport."
And Dan said: "The idea that she would precipitate a massive search and rescue operation and an international police investigation because she felt like going off-grid for a bit would be total anathema to her.
"If Esther wanted time on her own, she just had to say the words, ‘I feel like a bit of time to myself’ - that’s it. She knew that, because that’s what she was doing."
Yes, maybe the trails themselves wouldn't have troubled her, but perhaps her state of mind, lack of suitable equipment, not enough food, a non-working light and lack of shelter could trouble her.
And that's not including the possibilities of a slip or fall where she ends up hidden by rocks, trees or water.