Found Deceased Spain - Esther Dingley, from UK, missing in the Pyrenees, November 2020 #6

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

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  1. otto

    otto Verified Expert

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    Yes. According to the news, one couple saw her ascending while they were descending. She asked them for fruit. They said her pack seemed heavy.

    That could mean that she didn't want to leave her equipment at the empty Cabane Basurta.
     


  2. Tortoise

    Tortoise Well-Known Member

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    I wondered if she also had it with her up there on the Saturday. A difference between the two trips up could indicate a different plan for the night.
     
  3. Kike76

    Kike76 Active Member

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    Good question but I think unlikely. To take the shortcut she would have had to descend from Pic Sauvegarde via Port de Venasque and from then down to the lakes at the Refuge de Venasque. She would have literally passed the refuge and seen it from above on the way down. Of course, she might have willfully opted to take the shortcut. She may have come down very quickly indeed with her fitness from Pic de Sauvegarde to the Refuge de Venasque and perhaps felt she had enough daylight to go on further. She might have felt she had enough daylight to cross to the Port de la Glere side before nightfall but in doing so would likely have found herself in very steep terrain in near darkness.

    Getting lost is a strong possibility. She didn't have much daylight left. She does not appear to have had any compass. GPS signal may have been poor if she was next to a mountain. To get your position on your phone you need signal from three GPS satellites for trilateration. Having said that, from my experience GPS in mountains is good generally. However, she may have not been thinking clearly if lost. It is quite easy if lost to double down on your mistakes (eg. travelling onwards because you think you are going in the right direction) plus when dark falls your situational awareness can be very compromised indeed especially if suddenly confronted with rapidly dropping temperatures as the sun falls below the horizon.

    One of the most striking things to me of the case is how late in the day she was up the mountain (everyone else descending). This would point to her plan being staying at Refuge de Venasque.
     
  4. RickshawFan

    RickshawFan Verified Outdoor Recreation Specialist

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    Not unless she didn't have a topo map. The shortcut goes only in France, between lakes and down a canyon. The Port de la G more or less straddles France and Spain along the spine of a mountain chain. Very soon after walking the shortcut, you'd figure out it was taking you AWAY from the spine of the mountain.

    Unless ED didn't care about all that and just followed a trail because it was there, not because it was going somewhere exactly where she was planning on going. In other words, "Oh, a trail goes that way. That looks interesting. I don't have to go any particular way, so why don't I try that one? Oh, look at that view. This maybe sort of goes in the direction I had sort of been thinking about going, but maybe it doesn't even matter if it goes that way or not." Per DC, ED wasn't a person like this at all.

    It's true the shortcut goes over to the Cirque de la G, but it doesn't go near the Port. Specifically, it doesn't go anywhere near where the skull was found, which was very high up on a scree slope just below the P de la G.
     
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  5. KBlackRabbit

    KBlackRabbit Well-Known Member

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    I tend to agree. Asking strangers for food, especially while continuing on the trail seems really weird. It was always off to me. If you’re out of food, you turn around and go home, you don’t keep going. I don’t think she intended self harm, but was possibly more careless and distracted because she didn’t want to go back. Asking for food was maybe a desperate move to keep going when she was ill-prepared to do so.
     
  6. RickshawFan

    RickshawFan Verified Outdoor Recreation Specialist

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    The skier said she had her big pack, but we don't know exactly WHERE he saw her, I don't think. IIRC the photo shows her with her pack on.
    But, my brain is spinning...
    That's a VERY interesting concept, @Tortoise . It might not have applied to the Pic de S, but... I would have done exactly that! Dumped the pack in the Port de la V if I was going to scramble up the Pic de Sauvegarde.
    But, let's extrapolate this idea!
    ED left the pack somewhere and went for a day-hike? Or to bag a peak, as in, "I'll plunk my pack here, so I won't have to schlepp it, and I'll scamper up that Pic."?
    Interesting. What if she fell off a mountain near the Port de la Glère? Hmmmm...
    Wow, this sure turns over the tables...
     
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2021
  7. Grouse

    Grouse Well-Known Member

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    Well it's a big assumption IMO, and I don't think there's been any evidence they were out of funds.

    This is all part of a narrative by some that ED didn't want to go back for various reasons (splitting up with partner, no money, being forced return to the UK) and I have seen no convincing evidence for any of these arguments.
     
  8. Herat

    Herat Way out West

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    It seems as though there have been a lot of searches in this area that would be the logical approach to the peak.

    And after the winter and now into summer, there would be a lot more foot traffic from hikers in the area

    And that skier would have been questioned about where there interaction occurred.
     
  9. IrisElizabeth

    IrisElizabeth Well-Known Member

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    They still own a 4 bed house in Durham which is rented out, so I imagine that gives them a decent income. But who knows, maybe one of them was controlling with money so the other one needed to regularly ask strangers for food - pure speculation of course -whatever the case I don’t recall reading anything suggesting they were running out of money.

    I believe the thing about them splitting up came from the police statement given when ED first went missing where it was said that things weren’t as they seemed on social media and there was (as I recall) something the police said about there being a conflict regarding their future in terms of whether or not to continue with the nomadic lifestyle.
     
  10. RickshawFan

    RickshawFan Verified Outdoor Recreation Specialist

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    Yes, exactly. There was also the witness statement from the woman ED shared space with at a Refugio a few days before she went missing. That witness referred to having to give up some of her food to ED and to the problematic state of ED's and DC's relationship.

    The problem with owning a house that's rented out....you still have to pay the mortgage, taxes (?), and upkeep, and/or pay someone to manage the property, find renters, etc.
     
  11. PeggyHenry

    PeggyHenry Well-Known Member

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    Their relationship problem was also highlighted by the witness ( Laura?) who hiked with Esther on an overnight hike. She told police that Esther had mentioned they had split up (maybe temporarily) and she didn’t know if they’d get back together.
     
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  12. Steve13

    Steve13 Former Member

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    I missed this, for some reason, when I replied to Grouse a moment ago. It's quite right - 5 students rent 4 bed houses and owners tend to use the living room as an additional bedroom. DC and ED could easily have got up to €3000 per month in this way; running costs will be UK tax-deductible, as will be mortgage costs. They could easily have ended up with at least €1000 per month income. Plus they did derive, I read somewhere, €100 per month or so from their books. It looks to me like we can reasonably assume that between the rental, government benefits and book revenue they would have had enough income to maintain their travelling lifestyle indefinitely.
     
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  13. Grouse

    Grouse Well-Known Member

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    Actually it may have been longer than you think. According to --> this (Jan 2016) they worked for around 10 years and by saving hard were in a position to pay off their mortgage if they'd wanted by 2009 (I know that is doable quite quickly on a repayment mortgage by bumping up the payments, because I did it myself, albeit I was a few years older than them at the time). But they couldn't sell at that time and decided to rent it out as you say in your other post.

    Seems in 2010 they then remortgaged and bought the big house so were actually renting out two properties when they set off in 2014, before selling the flat in July 2016. So unless they ploughed that back into the mortgage on the house I guess that provided plenty of capital to live off.

    Agree about the fruit.
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2021
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  14. mrjitty

    mrjitty Well-Known Member

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    This is what the authorities were getting at IMO.

    It all feels mysterious because she is not where we expect. But as we don't know her specific intentions, she might be somewhere else.

    This is why I have never brought into the non-accident scenarios. There is just so much possibility she made other choices whether due to necessity (e.g. injury or bad weather) getting lost, or just dumb choices.

    Most times, people are found near the trail. But if they go off the trail "because reasons" finding them is not very easy.
     
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  15. Steve13

    Steve13 Former Member

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    Um, admin deleted my post supporting the notion that ED and DC were likely not being forced to stop touring for financial reasons. Perhaps there was too much hypothesising about financials? My thrust was to support the Durham rental revenue/sale idea by making the generalised point that people in their situation would very likely be entitled to UK/French government benefits of over €1000 per month. This augments the idea that there's no good reason to suppose that they had somehow run out of money, and good reason to think the opposite. This in turn shuts off one (minor) avenue of inquiry, MOO.
     
  16. RickshawFan

    RickshawFan Verified Outdoor Recreation Specialist

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    Would £1000 plus a little extra be enough for 2 people per month to live off? To me, that sounds a quarter of what it would take, minimum. ED and DC had to buy and maintain a camper van. Indeed, they had a series, IIRC. Even if you trade in IME you have a big outlay. DC had specialized medical supplies, presumably. There’s food, laundry (using laundromats regularly gets very spendy IME. The summer back country gear they bought (significant for financials that they didn’t have more robust 3-season gear or ED didn’t get some for her winter trip?) would have cost several thousand £££ (at least 3.5k if DC had similar gear/apparel to ED).
    I once traveled around sleeping in my car. It was waaay more expensive than I would have guessed. I finally had to rush home, back to job and apartment living. And I didn’t have a motorhome on my list of expenses, or dogs, or any of that. I didn’t eat out, either: I used a camp stove on one of those ubiquitous a picnic tables. I didn’t pay for camp spots every night, and when I did, it was in federal campgrounds at half price (one such campground was $6 per night). I didn’t have to buy any gear (e.g. I own 5 sleeping bags, from 10F european-norm to 50F, and have been doing all this camping stuff since the 1980’s).
    I had no tires to buy, no car maintenance of any kind, cheap insurance since it wasn’t a motorhome, no bike rack, etc.
    This footloose and fancy free lifestyle racks up expenses you’d never guess.
    So, yeah, I don’t see how 2 people could possibly make do on such a pittance as £1k + a bit more.
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2021
  17. OEJ-JEO

    OEJ-JEO Well-Known Member

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    When camping in the wilds I've often preferred to arrive at my destination late in the day. Camping alone, boredom can set in after dark, and ED was out in late November, well after the equinox. In an Instagram post a few days before her disappearance, ED wrote of "sitting and waiting in the cold on my own" in a refuge when she chose to accept a ride from another hiker:

    Login • Instagram

    It can make sense to conserve body heat in cooler weather by staying active as late in the day as possible. There's also the pleasure of being alone in the high country when the day-trippers have gone home for tea!
     
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  18. OEJ-JEO

    OEJ-JEO Well-Known Member

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    A map of his searches posted to facebook by DC shows that he searched the woods in the area around the refuge quite thoroughly, although there's no indication of when those searches took place. The "shortcut" is in blue here, and the refuge is in the woods below (north of) the point where the shortcut meets the yellow chemin de l'imperatrice. North is down on this map:

    https://scontent.flhr3-3.fna.fbcdn....=c8d8ef7d7caebbb30ade5fd6631adacf&oe=612F57C8

    It's hard to get a sense of gradients from Google Earth, but this page gives a circular route taking in the "shortcut" from bottom to top. The ascent from the refuge to the col de la montagnette looks to be about 800m in roughly 2.5km, so certainly steep.

    Cirque de la Glère - Lac de la Montagnette - Altirando
     
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  19. otto

    otto Verified Expert

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    Since Dan seems convinced that Esther hiked from Pic de Sauvegarde to Refuge de Venasque, if that did indeed happen, then I think Esther took the short cut (blue line) to Port de la Glere.

    upload_2021-8-4_11-20-19.png
    (from your link)

    That fits well with vultures taking part of the skull and dropping it near Port de la Glere.

    "There's another option: a shortcut via Lac de la Montagnette found on the internet on various webpages but not tried yet by myself. On Google Earth we can spot the trails involved and I made this kml-route of it (click to open it in GE). NB: I tried this shortcut at 15-9-2016 but found it too steep when getting higher. Unfit for the average GRPdesBF-walker with his full backpack.

    The second part of this stage will bring you into the high mountains. So take care. Running water is not that abundantly available up there. When you stick to the main route, then you'd better bring water from the stream beyond Hospital de Benasque. When doing the variant, there are more streams available."

    [​IMG]

    GRPdesBF 331-333
     
  20. otto

    otto Verified Expert

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