Found Deceased Spain - Esther Dingley, from UK, missing in the Pyrenees, November 2020 #5

Discussion in 'Located Persons Discussion' started by FrostOwl, Nov 29, 2020.

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  1. RedHaus

    RedHaus Well-Known Member

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    Hi @Federico_A and @Steve13. Your humor has added some welcome levity in this very sad case. And clearly you are dismissing my thoughts about whether DC's remains and/or her kit were hidden by a third party in a lake. I don't disagree, it is a long shot. But this case has so many weird facts and circumstances, it is hard to dismiss many ideas. But, I do believe if ED committed suicide by drowning in a lake with a weighted (i.e. stones) backpack, she could get fairly far into a lake by swimming until hypothermia prevented her body from proceeding and then dying from asphyxia. So my recent question may still be relevant. If in a lake, could scavengers have quickly processed any of ED's body that washed up, while her backpack may still remain submerged? Again, a long shot, but I still wonder if that is a plausible scenario.
     


  2. touch

    touch Active Member

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    Several people keep repeating this point on here and I still don't understand why? Is it a quote from one of the people she met on route or something else I've missed?
    I don't understand how there can be so much certainty (enough to accuse the dossier of lying) about what she did or didn't have with her when her belongings have not even been found yet.
     
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  3. otto

    otto Verified Expert

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    It's interesting that the President of the Pyrenean Guides Association believes that she lost her way.

    "Missing British hiker Esther Dingley is more likely to be the victim of a tragic accident than a criminal act, claims a leading mountain rescue expert.

    Esther's boyfriend Dan Colegate recently suggested – before human remains were found near where the Oxford graduate disappeared in the Pyrenees last November – that he increasingly feared foul play.

    But speaking after the discovery of what is believed to be a human skull and hair in the area last week, mountain rescue guide Patrick Lagleize said he believed it likely that Esther had lost her way and fallen to her death on treacherous scree [loose rock and gravel].

    Mr Lagleize, President of the Pyrenean Guides Association (CGdP) said: 'You can lose the way and slide on the scree. Logically, for Esther to have fallen that way, is unfortunately quite plausible.'"
    Esther Dingley more likely to have fallen from mountain in Pyrenees than been victim of criminal act | Daily Mail Online

    It sounds like he thinks she made a mistake in this area.

    upload_2021-7-29_14-41-58.png

    upload_2021-7-29_14-34-15.png

    upload_2021-7-29_14-37-31.png
     
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  4. Owlpellet

    Owlpellet Well-Known Member

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    I thought I had read that she had a paper map and compass and in addition had downloaded maps (handy for zooming in on small areas). I can’t believe she would have considered stepping on the hill without them.
     
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  5. otto

    otto Verified Expert

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    We have the President of the Pyrenean Guides Association stating that he believes that she lost her way. That comes down to maps. Regardless of what she used for maps, something seems to have gone wrong with her route.
     
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  6. NoSI

    NoSI Verified Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner/RXN

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    Thank you QFederico_A … The first article I opened started out like this “High in the Pyrenees Mountains lies a boneyard filled with half-devoured skeletons… The keepers of this unholy crypt sweep by on nine-foot-long, gunmetal wings, their red-rimmed eyes studying the lonely terrain. They rise above the eeriness, bristly beards stirring in the wind.” Skillfully written…

    The Lammgeier…

    - Lives on a steady diet of bones.

    # 80% of the bird's diet consists of bone and bone marrow. Its stomach acid has a pH of about 1, so the dense material can be digested in under 24 hours.

    - The birds are not known to be hostile toward (living) humans. (Well, that’s good….).

    - The lammergeier is a scavenger; after finding a picked-over carcass, the bird will drop it from a tremendous height to shatter it into swallow-able pieces. (This is interesting to consider since only a part of the skull was found… Sorry, no matter how I word it, it doesn’t sound right… L)

    Source: 11 Facts About the Bone-Eating Bearded Vulture | Mental Floss
     
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  7. Grouse

    Grouse Well-Known Member

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    She did have a paper map, and she also made a backup of it on her phone for good measure!

    "For navigation Esther was carrying a physical map of the area which she had also photographed with her phone as a backup." from the dossier page 6
     
  8. Owlpellet

    Owlpellet Well-Known Member

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    The art of navigation on the hill has sometimes been defined (tongue in cheek) as “keeping the area within which you are lost as small as possible”. Mistakes and accidents happen, but not necessarily negligent ones, which would be the case if she did not have a paper map and a decent compass or was insufficiently skilled at using them. In my opinion, I don’t think we have reason to believe that this was the case.
     
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  9. pentimento

    pentimento Active Member

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    Please forgive my cynicism here, and I am not trying to be contentious, but isn't this a commercial business that has services to sell you for safe mountaineering? Then of course they would want this to be a mountain accident and not the result of any criminal event. In areas where tourism is extremely important to the local economy, news of criminal activity keeps tourists away. I am not at all saying that this is what is happening in this case, but I think it is important to consider the source and motives of some of the information. I live in a totally different part of the world -- Mexico -- and I can tell you that indeed real information about local crimes is difficult to get. They want and need tourists to come and spend their money. I sometimes hear of various violent crimes only by word of mouth, although murders are a little harder to suppress unless they occur under ambiguous circumstances, such as it could've been an accident. I live in a semi-rural area where locals survive on the tourist economy and even Americans who have properties or services to sell you will suppress information about local crime. I realize this is a different scenario in a different part of the world, and I'm not saying this is actually happening in this case, but just trying to give food for thought.
     
  10. RickshawFan

    RickshawFan Verified Outdoor Recreation Specialist

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    Absolutely, yes: evaluate every statement with bias in mind. I actually think, for some reason, there have been many statements in this case that have been understood unquestioningly, when in fact several parties have “skin in the game” and there are some obvious missing pieces, contradictions, fixed conclusions. At this point, for myself, I only consider LE/SAR 100% reliable.
    That being said, I would certainly give credence to highly skilled Pyreneen outdoors folk and locals who are very familiar with this area; they will have experience with the eco-niche, nature, weather, routes, terrain, where people have accidents and why, the heartbeat of the area. The blogger we got the photos of the randonnée from the Hospice to the Pic de Sauvegarde is an example. He knows how that world is. And I hope in the course of time folks like that weigh in on their perspective.
     
  11. otto

    otto Verified Expert

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    This is the man who believes that Esther lost her way and had an accident on the scree. The gendarmerie is a "military force with law enforcement duties among the civilian population."

    I realize that some countries obscure murder for tourism reasons, but that does not happen in all countries. In Canada, for example, murders are not hidden to trick tourists into thinking that Canada is a safe country.

    I'm inclined to believe that this Frenchman is more interested in fact than tourism.

    upload_2021-7-29_16-6-33.png

    La Compagnie
     
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  12. Kike76

    Kike76 Active Member

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    I doubt that is a motivation here. This is a part of the Pyrenees with probably near zero violent crime by any standards. If someone goes missing in Winter in the Pyrenees at >2000 m then the likely cause is in order is (1) accident +/- getting lost +/- hypothermia (2) sudden death/illness and unable to descend to safety(3) avalanche (not likely here) (4) suicide and then much further down the list violent crime.
     
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  13. RedHaus

    RedHaus Well-Known Member

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    Wow, @otto, I know you've graphed several images of this area since the skull piece was discovered. And you and others (e.g. @RickshawFan) have analyzed the severity of the steep as well as the geology of the surface. But for some reason, this set of three pictures really struck me. First, because if someone fell anywhere on that ridge line, with that grade of descent, and that kind of surface, they would tumble like a rag doll for a very long distance and likely perish.

    And second, that 'path' to the Port de la Glere looks barely passible by your average alpine hiker or walker. It appears to have at one point in the past, maybe decades ago, been a trail like others we've seen in this area. But from my little geology knowledge, it appears like it has severely eroded over the years and lost its stable surface. So much so, I wonder why this trail is still even open to the public - although I guess the entire Pyrenees is open to the public. It seems like the Pyrenean Guides Association organization you cited should start to publicize this steep as extremely difficult.
     
  14. Kike76

    Kike76 Active Member

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    Interesting that hiking accidents occur in descents in three quarter of cases, and are usually on marked paths (especially in females) and more likely on rocky terrain. See this interesting paper below.
    Not entirely surprising but it is quite dramatic how much more common accidents are on descent. It is also striking that she was up the mountain quite late in the afternoon.

    Fall-related accidents among hikers in the Austrian Alps: a 9-year retrospective study | BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine

    Another point is that there was some snow in around the Pic Sauvegarde at the time and as per this video of some of the search, some of the slopes look treacherous and it might have been icy late in the day. If she had fallen she might have by bad luck landed in some snow which might have covered her particularly in a crevasse where it might have accumulated.

    Spanish police continue their search for missing Brit Esther Dingley | Metro Video

    This video at around 07:54 shows what Pic de Sauvegarde is like at the summit in mid Summer. Despite DC's dossier which essentially says the route is fairly easy, it looks far from it and risk of a fall in that area would be fairly high especially if there was some ice on the rocks. It doesn't look like they were able to search all of the area by foot due to the steepness of the slopes.

    Pic de Sauvegarde (2738m) - video Dailymotion
     
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  15. RickshawFan

    RickshawFan Verified Outdoor Recreation Specialist

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    This is the kind of mountain-rugged-outdoor-old-timer that I really trust. Their commitment to the ways of the mountains leaves zero room for tourist considerations. Tourists are safest with this kind of guy.

    FWIW I learned my outdoors fundamentals from old timers like this. They handed down their know-how from generation to generation before there were books on this stuff.
     
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  16. RickshawFan

    RickshawFan Verified Outdoor Recreation Specialist

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    A phone version would have been useless in the area of P de la G for the reasons mentioned above, starting with the screen being too small. You need to look at a whole big area to see how the gullies, contours, ridges, water elements, go. The giveaway at the P de la G is the tight contours indicating an almost impossibly steep slope.
     
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  17. 10ofRods

    10ofRods Verified Anthropologist

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    I'm afraid that she could. have. used her phone and seen the trail as a flat loop. I mean, I know she could see the area - but if she thought there was a "trail," she might not have noticed that section that heads up so steeply (I figure it's 30 degrees at least - just below 5.0, a tough scramble).

    I've done stuff like this myself, but turned back. If I were committed, though (had to stay outdoors somewhere due to mileage), I can see myself making similar decisions. I didn't learn how to read topo until I took a class, I was probably 20, and became obsessed with figuring it out - but most of my classmates were less interested. And I find it very difficult to teach undergrads how to read such a map (a big, paper map...a phone would be...impossible for them to decipher).

    QUOTE="RickshawFan, post: 16968671, member: 102093"]This is the kind of mountain-rugged-outdoor-old-timer that I really trust. Their commitment to the ways of the mountains leaves zero room for tourist considerations. Tourists are safest with this kind of guy.

    FWIW I learned my outdoors fundamentals from old timers like this. They handed down their know-how from generation to generation before there were books on this stuff.[/QUOTE]

    Me too. My dad was my teacher. And he allowed things when I was 5-6 years old if he could, sort of, supervise. Nevertheless, I made mistakes and, well, he corrected them sternly. Because he wanted me to survive.

    Not only that, but I had uncles (and one aunt) who were also experienced and good guides.

    My dad was the best, though, having to negotiate very difficult terrain in the Alps during WW2, and no, there were no phones or even any paper maps.

    We also lived next to some mountains, and we visited Dad's homeland in the Rockies every summer - so lots of childhood instruction (I've still done stuff that was super questionable).
     
  18. Grouse

    Grouse Well-Known Member

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    You are so right, good job it was only the backup to her paper map.
     
  19. RickshawFan

    RickshawFan Verified Outdoor Recreation Specialist

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    This is such a great post.
    Once I knew the remains were below P de la G, I assumed they were from someone who had an accident on the descent. I have also assumed that ED was going down that steep slope and not up. I can make a guess that she ascended to the P de la G from the Cabane.

    Imagine this:
    A. You’re going up a very steep slope. You go up it, step by step, not looking that far ahead. Your feet suddenly slide out from under you. You will almost certainly land sprawled out with your face and body hugging the ground upslope, or perhaps nose slamming the trail. You might have “road rash” on your face, but you’ll be okay.
    B. Now, you’re going DOWN a very steep slope. You are facing air, the whole universe in front of you. For starters, this can be scary as heck.
    You banana peel. Your legs zoom out from under you. You either give yourself a concussion or worse by slamming the back of your head on the trail, or you are going to head feet first downslope VERY fast. On scree your speed will accelerate exponentially. Same with snow. If you fly off the trail or keep going at the apex of a zig zag because you can’t steer, there’s nothing that will stop you unless you smash into rocks. Of course, this is no help at all.
    Upthread, I included some quotes about how this happens on snow. It’s very difficult to self-arrest, even with an ice-axe or facilitated by roped-up climbing partners. This happens on slopes that are way shallower than the P de la G.
    Plus, if you’ve burned up a lot of energy summiting, you will be very tired on the way down, and not entirely with your wits about you. Most accidents on Everest happen descending.
    Anyway, I’m really glad to see an article that quantifies these points.
    And then, if you recall, ED was wearing walking shoes (i.e. not lugged boots) that she had worn all summer. This shoe design goes bald very quickly. IMO she was headed to the Refugio de la G for the night, and this is the place she was hoping there was a winter warming room.
    ***
    Case in point on home turf as far as descent vs ascent, if you can’t imagine a steep mountain slope. You teach toddlers to go down stairs backwards; later you teach them forwards. If you have a major accident on stairs, it’s on the descent, not the ascent. Think: ascent, you land facing the stairs, descent you’re tumbling out of control, flying through the air or slamming your way to the bottom, bouncing on every step.
    ***
    Please, this knowledge may save your life. If you’re ever on a trail, and you get intimidated by how much of a drop there is, or the steps are cut in for the generally longer stride of male climbers, or your heel could miss a step, turn around and clamber down backwards. There are a lot of places like this on trails in the White Mountains and Maine.
     
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  20. 10ofRods

    10ofRods Verified Anthropologist

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    Not to mention that the descent uses muscles that are already exhausted - and not usually used.

    Your last paragraph is gold - I hope all the WS hikers read it. Grand Canyon comes to mind (fortunately, I was warned carefully by various people and trained on downhill - downhill is exceptionally hard on the knees, no matter what your age is).
     
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