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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    I recall that she asked the couple she met for fruit. She was on her way to Pic de Sauvegarde and they were surprised that she was ascending so late in the day. I don't believe she told them about plans after climbing the summit.

    Dan created a map that seems to assume that, regardless of what she said in her text messages, what she really meant was that she was going to cross the Port de Venasque, immediately enter France, and arrive at the Refuge de Venasque near dusk. Dan defended this idea even though many of us questioned whether that was a wise hiking decision.

    Two points argue against this:
    • no evidence that she was at the Refuge de Venasque
    • no wifi contact on Nov 23, which confused Dan since he knew she would have wifi within 30 minutes of leaving the refuge and for much of the trail in France between the refuge and the Port de la Glere.
    There's no evidence to support the idea that she went to Refuge de Venasque on Nov 22, and there is evidence that she was not there. Furthermore SAR has said that the absence of clear route contributed to difficulty in finding her body.
     


  2. RickshawFan

    RickshawFan Verified Outdoor Recreation Specialist

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    Now I'm confused. By "hike all the way down" do you mean from the PdeV? That was surely a different trail altogether. It couldn't be confused with the trail from above the Hôpital into the heights (correct trail to PdelaG or incorrect trail to the wrong lake).
    If it got to be dusk, because she was so late on the PicdeS, and she hustled down the trail towards the Cabane (which she had already been on 3x), and somehow took a fork onto the wrong trail, she'd make a mistake heading down, no? Not up?

    How about we get the map out for the trails between the PdelaG and the PicdeS on the Spanish side? Then we can project better where there could be a mistake?
     
  3. otto

    otto Verified Expert

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    There's no trail, but I have wondered, particularly in light of early discussion about her desire to sleep in the open, whether she did just that in Spain on the night of Nov 22. For example, instead of hiking to Cabane de la Basurta, perhaps she scoped out a level area to sleep open somewhere around the X. Perhaps she looked for the trail to Port de la Glere the following morning.

    upload_2021-8-12_17-31-41.png

    OpenTopoMap - Topographische Karten aus OpenStreetMap
     
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  4. otto

    otto Verified Expert

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    For example, maybe she stayed overnight somewhere here. Maybe not - not sure.

    upload_2021-8-12_17-39-8.png

    Close up

    upload_2021-8-12_17-39-21.png

    Google Earth
     
  5. Owlpellet

    Owlpellet Well-Known Member

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    Sorry it’s the DM, but it was reported earlier in other papers after LE tracked down the guy who gave her a lift and the advice to follow this route.


    “Colegate wrote a 23-page report about Esther's plans to do a circular hike between Spain and France which involved sleeping at a mountain refuge.

    He said in his dossier: 'An individual that Esther met on November 19 came forward to say he had specifically suggested this route through France, between Port de Venasque and Port de la Glere, to Esther when he met her. There is no reason to think that Esther did not stick to this plan.'

    Esther Dingley's boyfriend discovers final remains of the missing British hiker in the Pyrenees | Daily Mail Online
     
  6. Owlpellet

    Owlpellet Well-Known Member

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    True. What she should have left was a detailed route card or whatever people use these days. Instead SAR had a less precise report of her plans. But I don’t think that means she went a completely different way or headed back down to Spain for the night.

    She may not have stayed in the refuge, but instead bivvied near by. Or left no trace.

    No idea why she did not connect to wifi- was it from the Refuge? Was it switched on in winter when it was unstaffed? Just guessing...there could be any number of reasons I think.
     
  7. otto

    otto Verified Expert

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    The only reason to doubt this plan is that he was a complete stranger who mentioned a route. That phrasing of the route confirms Dan's belief about the route, but is that exactly what the man said about the route? Did Esther explore the trails and decide on a variation of the route?

    SAR believe that Esther was off-route according to Dan's route, and provide this as a reason that he body was so difficult to find. We now know that she was off-route.
     
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  8. otto

    otto Verified Expert

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    There's no wifi at the refuge, but there is within a short walk past the refuge. Dan has also said that there's good wifi throughout the route he expected her to take that day. It is a long hike between the refuge and the Port de la Glere, yet there was no contact using available wifi at any time during that long hike. Either she didn't want to update him on her route or send photos, or she wasn't there.
     
  9. Grouse

    Grouse Well-Known Member

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    That's weird, not sure I'd have predicted that at all.
     
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  10. RickshawFan

    RickshawFan Verified Outdoor Recreation Specialist

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    Snipped for focus

    LE remarked on such a tendency as a hallmark of inexperience after they concluded, after the skull discovery, she must have gone off trail. Esther Dingley: Hiker’s final moments remain a mystery as police say remains may have been scattered by foxes

    Building on this, I want to add here that I think it's been easy in this case to confuse fitness with "experience", because we keep hearing the latter word, when the former is given as illustration. They are not at all the same. And fitness can give you a false sense of confidence in the mountains. This can be very dangerous.
    I can refer to the following almost-current case for example in extreme heat, super fit trail runner:
    Found Deceased - CA - Philip Kreycik, 37, Pleasanton Ridge Regional Park, 10 Jul 2021 #2
     
  11. Grouse

    Grouse Well-Known Member

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    BBM - can you substantiate that part about the sit mat with a link please?
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2021
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  12. RickshawFan

    RickshawFan Verified Outdoor Recreation Specialist

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    While I was looking for something else, I came across this article laying out statistics for Pyrenees rescues by SAR. Mind-blowing that in two months in 2020, they did 300 rescues. There were 216 injury-casualties and 7 deaths in 2020 (despite lockdown).
    This is why SAR can only consume so many resources before moving on to the next casualty. Once they're out of the window for rescue for a missing hiker, they are bound to yield to "recovery". There is no longer an emergency.
    Growth of Rescues in Natural Areas during the First Summer of COVID-19 Pandemic in Catalonia
     
  13. RickshawFan

    RickshawFan Verified Outdoor Recreation Specialist

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    Also, while I was looking for the article on recent SAR-involved deaths in the Pyrenees, I came across this little tale of the consequences of hiking cross-border during lockdown. This was some months before DC and ED were hiking in the area.
    Aahhh...what cigarettes can do to you...
    Smoker’s trek to Spain for cigarettes ends in mountain rescue
     
  14. Federico_A

    Federico_A Well-Known Member

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    Certainly she would have gone up that 45 degree slope for a better view of the cirque, but why assume she had hiked up the cirque at all? Anywa, whether she approached Port de la Glere through France or Spain is pretty academic now, as we know where she died.

    Whichever part of that ridge she fell from (and we can narrow down to a 100m stretch), her body would have been found on the crags directly below - well above where the scree starts. Along that edge, I'm guessing she would have fallen farther from the Port rather than nearer, thereby making the body harder to spot. I stick to my X spot theory (attached again) as the most likely place and maybe the only possible place.
     

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    Last edited: Aug 12, 2021
  15. otto

    otto Verified Expert

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    Route wifi signal. Dan basically says that : if Esther spent Nov 22 overnight at Refuge de Venasque, she would have contacted someone in her family on Nov 23. He says that if she changed her plans, she would have let someone know. What he does not take into consideration is that heading to Port de la Glere the following day might not mean immediately heading to the refuge. He also does not consider the possibility that something might go wrong before she had French wifi signal.
    • Esther was in near daily contact with her partner and mother during her time away, unless she was out of signal range on a hike. On this specific hike she had indicated she would return to the motorhome in Benasque by Wednesday 25th at the latest (the day she was reported missing). She had also reported that mobile phone signal was poor in the area so people should not worry if she wasn’t in touch every day
    • Cabana de la Besurtas on the Spanish side - no phone signal once she left the peak
    • After leaving the peak, there is no mobile phone signal anywhere on this part of Esther’s route towards Refuge de Venasque.
    • Although Esther believed and had warned family that there was poor signal in the area, in fact the signal is very good on the French side. Within half an hour of leaving the refuge, Esther should have been able to use her phone for most of the rest of the day.
    • No trace of Esther was found in the relatively small area without a phone signal ... the region Esther planned to enter in France has quite good mobile coverage
    • Based on all of Esther’s previous behaviour, if she had left the no-signal area unhindered [Pic de Sauvegarde, Refuge] ... she could and would have sent an update to Dan and her parents at some time on Monday 23rd November. She might not have checked for signal all the time, but she would definitely have checked during her proposed loop through France, probably in the morning and quite soon after setting out.
    • If she had changed her plan, a route change would have passed through a different signal area at some point and she would have let somebody know.
    Dossier
     
  16. otto

    otto Verified Expert

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    That image is from the Port de la Glere. There might be a problem with the skull location.

    upload_2021-8-12_20-39-28.png

    Close up of Port de la Glere

    upload_2021-8-12_20-39-40.png

    Your skull location is at Port de la Glere, and the body is half in France and half in Spain.
    The skull was found at 2200 meters, so this is not the correct skull location.

    [​IMG]

    Google Earth
     
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  17. otto

    otto Verified Expert

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    Possibly, but there's a trail on her left (facing Spain) that takes her to Pic Sacroux. Why would she choose a rugged, trail-less pic when there's a perfectly good trail to a better pic available?
     
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  18. otto

    otto Verified Expert

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    This is the general layout

    upload_2021-8-12_20-56-55.png

    The partial skull was at 2200 meters elevation. The body was at a higher elevation than the port, 100 meters from the skull, beneath the Pic de la Glere.

    upload_2021-8-12_20-57-36.png

    upload_2021-8-12_21-0-45.png
     
  19. otto

    otto Verified Expert

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    Red dashed line = route selected by Dan
    Blue dashed line = shortcut from Refuge de Venasque to Port de la Glare route
    Purple dashed line = overnight in Spain on Nov 22, Port de la Glere the following day

    upload_2021-8-12_21-22-41.png
     
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  20. RedHaus

    RedHaus Well-Known Member

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    BBM

    Here you go @Grouse. It was posted by @pineapple23 up thread and I called out the yellow mat (below). I believe other media outlets have reported this... whether it is true or not we cannot yet know. But there is a lot of data surrounding this case that we do not fully know are true or not. For now I find this tidbit a very intriguing consideration.

    Police blame the WEATHER for not finding Esther Dingley's body in area they had already searched | Daily Mail Online

     
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