Philmont Bears 2000

Date: Thu, 13 Jul 2000 17:50:33 -0400
From: Mike Floyd <>
Subject: Re: [Philmont] Bear Attack-630-G1&G2

630 G1 & G2 has returned from Philmont last night. We were at Clear Creek on the way up to Mt Phillips the morning of the bear attack. That morning were told by Clear Creek staff that a bear incident had occurred on Mt Phillips. But we did not know at that time that anyone had been hurt. 630-G1 started up the trail and was met by two crews with a Clear Creek staff coming down the mountain. Our boys talked with the injured boys. One boy was scatched on the face and the other with bite wound on his shoulder.

This is what we were told by one of the crews lead advisors at Clear Creek. Approx. 10 pm a bear came into one of the camps and tore up the sump. At that time the advisors gathered the crews that they knew were on the mountain and they built a fire in the fire ring and kept the boys in this area. The crews stayed up all night around the fire. They were not aware of the other crews that were on the other side of the camp. At 5 am the bear returned to the other camp and apparently started to play with a pack that was close to a tent. The bear then sit on a tent and when he did the boys yelled and bear turned and tore the tent and scratched one scout on the face and bit another boy on the shoulder. The advisors chased the bear off the scouts. The bear retreated 20 feet and then sit down and watched the group. I was told by one of the advisors that pictures were taken of the bear. There were many stories of the incidents while we were at Philmont, but this information was told to me by advisors of both groups. One of the advisors of another crew had a mobile phone and called base camp emergency phone number. This call scrambled help from Clear Creek. The Clear Creek staff provided medical assistance for the scouts and escorted the crews down to Clear Creek.

Our crews were diverted to Red Hills trail camp to go around Mt Phillips. Mt Phillips and Commanche Peak was closed. When we arrived at Red Hills we found a sump at campsite #4 torn out of the ground. That night 12 crews shared the campsites with almost all crews doubling up in the campsites. I was very impress that Philmont sent two senior rangers to the campsite and talked with all the crews. That night no cooking was done and everything including pots,dishes, and cameras were hung in bear bags. The rangers remained up all night walking the campsites and a fire was kept burning in campsite #4. We were told that the bear hunters had tracked the bear down from Mt Phillips towards Red Hills and then lost the tracks going back up Mt Phillips. We heard the dogs during the night. The next morning Red Hills camp was closed for camping. The next morning we saw horse tracks and again heard the dogs as we hiked to Thunder Ridge.

My observations:
1. I will now always carry a cell phone with me on backpacking trips.
2. Packs should never be placed near tents.

On our last day at Philmont I saw the scout with the shoulder wound in the trading post and he was in good spirit.

Besides not being able to hike Mt Phillips our two crews had a excellent time. I would also like to commend the Philmont staff on their response to this unfortunate incident.

See also: