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Turning a family’s loss into a message of safety on Camelback Mountain

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Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014

By Tana Hughes


KARI OSEP/CRONKITE NEWS: Even in the best of weather hiking still carries risk. Tana Hughes introduces us to one woman who is coping with her own family’s loss by helping others survive.

TANA HUGHES/CRONKITE NEWS: Since 2011 , five people have died on Camelback Mountain, including three this year alone. Now one family is working to make sure all hikers consider safety their top priority.

After undergoing a multimillion-dollar improvement renovation to increase safety and sustainability, there are still accidents happening on Camelback Mountain. But the question remains: Are they preventable?

Chelsey McHale, is an advocate for safe-hiking awareness. Her brother, Clint McHale, died after slipping and falling on the mountain back in 2011. She says accidents can happen to experienced hikers – the problem is that they are ill-prepared.

CHELSEY MCHALE/ADVOCATE FOR SAFE-HIKING AWARENESS: That’s when I started working with the city of Phoenix and parks and recreation and created this safety sign that is now up on the mountain on the Echo Canyon side and it has his picture and his story and it’s not a memorial sign, it’s meant as a safety sign in hopes that you see that this young person did die, they were experienced.

TANA HUGHES/CRONKITE NEWS: Most accidents on the mountain occur from heat exhaustion or dehydration. McHale hopes that these signs will bring more awareness to hikers.

Camelback Mountain is one of Arizona’s most popular hiking courses, but also one of the most treacherous. When taking on this trail you want to make sure you have all the right necessities to make it through safely.

Aside from water, prepare a backpack with a hat, sunscreen, extra battery life for your phone and a flashlight.

CHELSEY MCHALE/ADVOCATE FOR SAFE HIKING AWARENESS: Also knowing that when you start to get tired and really thirsty and you don’t have that much water don’t continue with your hike, turn back around. Or even before you get to that point, because you do have to come back.

TANA HUGHES/CRONKITE NEWS: It is also important to be aware of sunrise and sunset times so you aren’t hiking in the dark.