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. RickshawFan

    RickshawFan Verified Outdoor Recreation Specialist

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    It was impressive. I had everything, too: my kitchen, winter sleeping bag (!!!!!), shelter, water filter, rain jacket and bottoms, insulated jacket..... my whole kit. I had been hiking already for 5 months, though, so I knew how to cut corners and what risks I could balance. (Thru hikers often carry long underwear tops and bottoms, but no 2nd set of clothes.) 35L is the same I would take for a day hike, and it was my day hike pack, but the only one I had lying around when my overnight pack broke. I was shocked it would all fit in.
    It gouged permanent dents on my hips, so I could never put it on again, and had to give it away to the charity store.
    That pack was actually more robust than ED's. With the same amount of weight, ED's would have sagged more. But it's clear from photos it doesn't.
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2021
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  2. RickshawFan

    RickshawFan Verified Outdoor Recreation Specialist

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    This is a nightmarish photo IMO. Everything about it reflects inexperience and made me worry for ED's safety from the get-go. Simple, basic, things are not thought-through. The conditions ED was hiking through on that trip were intermittent snow, but she's not taking advantage of the tent (I wonder if she could have lost her trekking poles? These are used to hold up that kind of tent.), and she's in the most exposed location possible. It takes planning not to end up in a location like that at dusk.
     
  3. RickshawFan

    RickshawFan Verified Outdoor Recreation Specialist

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    Though nice and compact, the uninsulated inflatable mattress of ED's is a killer mattress in the cold conditions she was in. It puts an icy layer of air right under you. The odds of hypothermia in that set-up are extremely high, ever mind the exposure.

    Safe would have been much bulkier and heavier, much higher R-rating. Experienced folks would always have closed-cell foam in the conditions she was in, even if just a piece of it.

    Clear conditions can get unbelievably frigid at night.

    At least the Cabanes and Refuges seem to have had real mattresses and they're never more than an easy day's hike away. The combination of their insulating properties and ED's model of sleeping bag should have kept her safe in one of those (though this would be uncertain, too, in November).

    I can't even imagine setting up for a night like that, even in my greenest days in times of yore. I would have been so desperately spooked, I would have hiked out of there in the dark to get a safer spot, and she has the moon to light her way. Why didn't ED at least use the tent? She could have rigged it somehow to fit there.
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2021
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  4. RickshawFan

    RickshawFan Verified Outdoor Recreation Specialist

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    Snipped for focus.

    I've been wondering about the implications of this. I settled on thinking ED didn't tell DC exactly where she was. Those peaks would all look the same up top, perhaps even if you'd been there!
     
  5. jenpil

    jenpil Former Member

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    On this photo she posted from a previous hike, Esther set up her sleeping place on uneven small boulders in the most exposed place. I just can't see why anyone would sleep here, yet Esther seemed just fine with it.

    As much as she liked being in the mountains, I don't think she had the skill set to do anything other than simple one-day hikes on the main trails. She didn't even have enough food and had to ask other hikers.

    And yes, what happened to the tent poles? You wouldn't take a tent up a mountain without them!
    Surely she could set her own tent up properly? Or was she really struggling without Dan?

    I think she was winging it without Dan and just about coping. She had been lucky so far, and think with her naïvety and unpreparedness, combined with a late afternoon ascent up the pic (meaning being up there in the dark) I think she may have gone off trail, succumbed to the cold, gone down a ravine (any or all of those) and just hasn't been discovered in the SAR.

    MOO.
     

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  6. BoraBora

    BoraBora Active Member

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    Really interesting observations by everyone, and thank you for all of this.

    This takes me back to my own time travelling - I travelled for a year when I was in my early 20s, about 20 years ago now. Backpacked. I was terrified of my mother at the time, and even though I was living independently in the UK at the time, and she was in the US, I was still scared to tell her of my full plan for the year out. So I told her on a "need to know" basis. All I said was I was initially going on a 3 week "holiday" to Singapore to stay at my sister's place. That's all she knew. Little did she know I had a full year round trip booked to about 7 different countries. Sadly she died while I was in Singapore so I never had to tell her any more information, but had I had further conversations with her I was going to say that I decided "on the spur of the moment" to hop over to Thailand, then another similar decision to move to Indonesia etc etc. Bit by bit I was going to tell her the story. Looking back it seems completely silly that I was this scared and didn't just tell her the full truth, but such was her hold over me that I didn't feel able.

    I'm now wondering if that's exactly what Esther was doing with Dan? Not telling him the full story - more interested in the company than the hiking, but didn't want to let on to him? Interestingly my mother was also called Esther.

    ETA: I spent a full year moving from place to place, with a few overnight hiking stays. I honed my gear right down to only the necessities and I had far more stuff than ED. I had a full large backpack and also a large lightweight carrier bag that I carried all my cooking utensils, food etc in. At one stage I had a tent, which I later got rid of, and that was strapped (on the outside) to the bottom of my backpack.
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2021
  7. jenpil

    jenpil Former Member

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    Yes, I think so. If she was posting repeated photos onto facebook and instagram, photos that were the same mountains but of different angles, then it's likely she would be doing this with Dan too. I doubt he asked for too many details. She didn't provide them.

    Interestingly, her last contact with Dan was a videocall actually up at the pic, so he could see for himself, in real time, that this time she was actually where she said she was and not in Sundsvall or wherever.
     
  8. IrisElizabeth

    IrisElizabeth Well-Known Member

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    I agree she really does seem to be winging it without Dan - she even writes on facebook about Dan giving her confidence over the years, and again in one of the text messages she writes 'thank you for encouraging me and giving me this confidence'. I wonder why as a 37 year old woman she felt unconfident without his encouragement - in the dossier the same message thanks him for all his messages to get her on her way that morning, almost if she was reluctant to be doing whatever she was doing. I wonder if Dan had realised in the course of the text messages from the peak that something was seriously amiss with either Esther's state of mind or in her preparations and that's why they suddenly switched to a video call - do we know which one of them instigated that switch to video?
     
  9. Tortoise

    Tortoise Well-Known Member

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    My guess would be he instigated the call. Esther seemed to have signed off, going by her last text of "Keep you posted when can xx” “Love you xxx”

    Evidently in that 1.5 minute call he learned where she had stayed the previous night, and that she had been there alone. IMO
     
  10. stmarysmead

    stmarysmead Well-Known Member

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    All the things that we see...by digging thru the details...Dan saw in real time. IMO, he was watching very closely.
     
  11. BoraBora

    BoraBora Active Member

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    Do you agree with Dan's theory about the third party? He seems so sure she can't have had an accident.
     
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  12. stmarysmead

    stmarysmead Well-Known Member

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    I am increasingly believing his theory that she won’t be found on the mountain.
     
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  13. jenpil

    jenpil Former Member

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    I can't see how else it can be anything other than an accident. I think she wasn't in the right place mentally, she wasn't fully prepared for the hike, she was up there in the dark, made a few mistakes, got panicked and/or lost and had some sort of a fall or succumbed to the cold somewhere.
     
  14. RickshawFan

    RickshawFan Verified Outdoor Recreation Specialist

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    Just a snippet of info.... The kind of tent ED and DC owned is a "tarp-tent". You rig it with trekking poles. They don't usually come with tent poles, although that particular model might have, like one. I dunno. Anyway, this begs the question: why isn't she using trekking poles to hold up the tent? Was it super windy? She didn't figure to bury the guys in piles of scree?

    This whole set up with the "bivvy" tells me the couple hadn't learned skills from others, just maybe they winged it themselves.

    The thing is.......the way you learn how to do all this is to learn from people who are super-experienced who have had close calls! A few things changed over the years (e.g. we now have synthetic baselayers, packs sit higher on the body, and equipment is a lot lighter), but the basic thought process about how you manage in the wilderness is handed down. I actually learned most of my backcountry know-how from people my grandparents' age in the 1980's. The principles have never changed: do not put your tent out in the open like that. Do not put it where the fog can roll in and blanket your sleeping bag with wet. Do not put it where a snow storm could soon bury you. Do not use an air mattress. Do not put it on a slope with scree that can roll down onto you. Your tent is much the safest place to be (except maybe in high wind, but even on Everest they use tents); use it! Do not expose your sleeping bag to the elements: it's your last-ditch safety equipment. These are life and death issues.
    So, if you ever get a chance, go out with old timers for hikes and overnighters. Invite a SAR member over to dinner (they've seen it all). Let them be opinionated and tell you stories. Listen to how they think. Be humble (alot of that). Soak it up.
    There will always be mistakes, even if you've learned from the greatest, but not a mistake like what I see in that photo.

    ******
    Importantly, there are conditions you would use a bivy, but not at all in the situation ED was in. The bivvies are also purpose-built; they're kind of like rain-gear shaped like a sleeping bag, and are waterproof or waterproof-breathable (sometimes just wind resistant). Some examples: in very windy conditions (but you'd also put it behind a wind-breaking outcropping or something); if you use a tarp for shelter, to keep spindrift from getting on your sleeping bag (this is my setup); if you are climbing the face of El Capitan; if you have a medical emergency and use one to crawl into...

    ******
    And ya know, all ED would have had to have taken is a big 'ol garbage bag or two and she'd have been 100% safer. You can hop in it, cut holes and put it on.... many many things.
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2021
  15. RickshawFan

    RickshawFan Verified Outdoor Recreation Specialist

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    Yep, he could have seen she was on a Pic. But...... which one?
     
  16. RickshawFan

    RickshawFan Verified Outdoor Recreation Specialist

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    Everything about this trip convinces me she had an accident. It was pretty much an "accident waiting to happen".
     
  17. IrisElizabeth

    IrisElizabeth Well-Known Member

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    I'm still thinking all signs point towards probable suicide and she made sure she wouldn't be found. Very sad situation.
     
  18. RickshawFan

    RickshawFan Verified Outdoor Recreation Specialist

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    Snipped for focus.

    I'm guessing they were both winging it when in the backcountry. That's not just an ED thing. An experienced person would call ED "inexperienced". An inexperienced person would call her "experienced". So, I'm guessing neither was.
    IMO A big part of becoming experienced is hanging out with people who have had ALOT of experience. It's not possible to come by all that experience on your own, otherwise you end up doing a makeshift bivvy on an exposed scree slope with snow storms pending, because, yes, why not bivvy?

    I have a photo of a bivvy set up made by experienced folks on a Pic in the Pyrenees. I hope it's okay to post. The location is HERE, but I will refrain from commenting, since this is not MSM. Photo only.
     

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  19. Puzzles

    Puzzles Well-Known Member

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    Our dedicated sleuths have provided compelling reasons to believe hypothermia or an accident befell Esther, but searches for her appear to have been extensive and intense, and I just can't understand why she wouldn't have been found, unless that was her paramount wish.

    @BoraBora, I continue to ponder the statement in the LBT dossier,
    "...As an active police investigation is ongoing, it is not the purpose of this document to comment on activities already undertaken or being undertaken by the police forces investigating Esther’s disappearance..."

    From this, I consider LE, and Dan, have information about Esther's disappearance – not in the public domain – that supports Dan's assertion she is not on the mountain, and that a third party was involved in her disappearance.

    We can't be certain if he means someone harmed her, abducted her, or simply encouraged her to leave with him/her/them.

    @IrisElizabeth, I too think "all signs point towards probable suicide and she made sure she wouldn't be found."

    If Esther is no longer alive, if and when her remains are found, we still may never know what caused her death.
     
  20. stmarysmead

    stmarysmead Well-Known Member

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    All good points.

    ‘No question that she was inadequately prepared and certainly in practice, took foolish risks. So an accident should be at the top of my list.

    I guess it’s all the odd things she was doing...that make me believe there was a game afoot...at least on her part. She’s not really hiking much, she’s posting the same pictures over and over, she’s waiting around supposedly to be with these same friends, she’s “out of pocket” the whole day before she disappears, she’s heading up the mountain late in the afternoon, she disappears on the day of their media triumph...and the weird location service of Sundsvall, Sweden that shows up twice.

    Of course, she may have been planning to leave him and had an accident first. Or she may have been evasive as she planned her suicide. Or.....
     
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