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Deceased NH - Emily Sotelo, 20, missing at Franconia Notch in the White Mountains; Nov 2022

Naughty Pine

With It
Missing: tonight, left this morning.

Emily Sotelo set out from Lafayette Place Campground with a goal of hiking the knife-edge ridge of Lafayette, Haystack, and Flume in the Whites. Temperature is near zero with windchill at -30 and high wind.

NH Fish and Game statement:

 
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Naughty Pine

With It
All Trails says this loop hike takes over 9 hours. It is steep and rugged, with an exposed knife-edge for maybe 3 hours of the hike.

I rounded up a description from yesterday from a smaller loop within this one.

View attachment 72
View attachment 73

View attachment 74
This smaller loop than the one ES went on took all of the daylight hours. I hope she had some sense to follow the crowd and do this shorter loop rather than the longer one.

Much of this is above treeline and totally exposed. Did ES have microspikes and crampons? 10 essentials with a lot of back up insulating layers? Map? Spare batteries? PLB?
 

One Fat Marmot

For Real
ES might be athletic and in good shape. That would certainly help. But at 20, you don’t have “experience” in making decisions in the wilderness when things get difficult.
This has me very worried. -30 windchill is nightmarish. The one hut is closed for the season, and there are no shelters.
IMO

Edited by Admin
 

Hates Ramen

For Real
Looking at the map. Maybe a local can give insight...

That's a ridge from Lafayette all the way to Flume pretty much?
ES had a couple of spots she could get down to the highway. One nearish Lincoln. Is that Haystack in the missing poster? She could go down the trail near Liberty. That's AT, correct?

The clips from ^^^ say the signs were iced over. You'd need a map to know your options.
 

I Am A Rock

Groovy
Mike Ryder in the comments posted in AllTrails upthread is a very experienced person in these mountains (he's done a lot of 4k-ers), so I tend to have faith in what he says.

My fear would be ES made a decision to descend, and came down right where he says he gets tricky with a 20' drop, and she didn't have microspikes. But I guess SAR would know to look for her there. The NHFG statement says there are 3 teams out.
 

Cabin Fever

Groovy
Mike Ryder in the comments posted in AllTrails upthread is a very experienced person in these mountains (he's done a lot of 4k-ers), so I tend to have faith in what he says.

My fear would be ES made a decision to descend, and came down right where he says he gets tricky with a 20' drop, and she didn't have microspikes. But I guess SAR would know to look for her there. The NHFG statement says there are 3 teams out.
I'm kind of hoping ES saw the snow Mike Ryder is talking about at the bottom of the trail (or realized very quickly proceeding would be a bad idea), and hitched out. Her phone might have been in the cold long enough that it died, so she couldn't call her ride? But maybe there's not good coverage in that area, anyway?

I guess my idea is that ES figured out early she couldn't do it and is not on the mountain.
 
K

Kaboom!

Guest
Updates just now, filling in a few details.

—mom dropped her off at Lafayette Park Campground at 5 am. Mom saw ES go up the trail.
—ES was wearing sneakers and not dressed for weather
—18 SAR teams out searching
—snow in the woods
—valley is still well below freezing today: 20 °; wind at 5 mph
—National Guard helicopter
—hint that ES and mom not familiar with the conditions
—ES is from Westford MA, outside Boston

Good video, including of SAR operation and NHFG spokesperson:
 
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One Fat Marmot

For Real
Updates just now, filling in a few details.

—mom dropped her off at Lafayette Park Campground at 5 am. Mom saw ES go up the trail.
—ES was wearing sneakers and not dressed for weather
—18 SAR teams out searching
—snow in the woods
—valley is still well below freezing today: 20 °; wind at 5 mph
—National Guard helicopter
—hint that ES and mom not familiar with the conditions
—ES is from Westford MA, outside Boston

Good video, including of SAR operation and NHFG spokesperson:
Oh, dear. The "experience" word again.

"Her parents told News 9 that Sotelo is an experienced hiker but does not have much winter hiking experience." I guess this just means "she's done a bunch of trails", since she's barely 20, and teens generally have had very little experience in a whole lot of anything. If she'd been out regularly with a well-established hiking club (like the AMC) and got her "experience" from hanging out with them, I'd feel more optimistic.
 

Twiglets

For Real
Uh, oh.... @One Fat Marmot is grumbling again.

Maybe we're jumping to conclusions that ES was doing a loop? The thing is, on a loop trip, someone would have to pick her up. How would that be coordinated? If she got to the pick up spot late, the driver could be waiting for hours. If she got there early, she could freeze to death waiting for her ride.

What if she was going to hike out to a town?
 

Naughty Pine

With It
Uh, oh.... @One Fat Marmot is grumbling again.

Maybe we're jumping to conclusions that ES was doing a loop? The thing is, on a loop trip, someone would have to pick her up. How would that be coordinated? If she got to the pick up spot late, the driver could be waiting for hours. If she got there early, she could freeze to death waiting for her ride.

What if she was going to hike out to a town?
You're making total sense....

I'm looking at the map. What if ES was hiking down into Loon Mountain? She's from near Boston. Maybe her family is staying at Loon, which is a resort.

This map abuts the one we have ^^^^. It's from AllTrails

Screen Shot 2022-11-21 at 4.01.12 PM.jpg
 

Twiglets

For Real
That....YES!

So, I dug up a trail description that would get someone from Loon up to Flume. It would run right into that trail marked in red.

 

Twiglets

For Real
So, from Lincoln up to the Flume, it's 11.72 miles round trip. That means, one way coming down from the Flume, it's 5.86 miles. It's a drop of over 3,000 feet.
 

Cabin Fever

Groovy
As only the Daily Mail can, here’s an update. No new info, but photos:

The Daily Mail has their map wrong. The planned route is way longer. ES was reportedly going to Lafayette, Haystack, and Flume. That means she was also going to Liberty. Flume is next south on the ridge to Liberty.

I suppose it's possible the mom got the route wrong?
 
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