Categories:
Tuesday, October 13, 2015

DEC Tickets Hiker After Keg Party On Phelps

You may have seen the photos on Facebook this week of a bunch of hikers having a keg party on top of Phelps Mountain. The photos sparked a lot of comments. Many people (not all) condemned the hikers. In researching the matter for the next issue of the Adirondack Explorer, Mike Lynch discovered that the guy behind the party has been ticketed by the state Department of Environmental Conservation. Given the interest in the story, we thought we’d post it here before we go to press.

 

By Mike Lynch and Phil Brown

A hiker who posted photos of a keg party on top of Phelps Mountain over Columbus Day weekend has been ticketed by the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

Photos from the keg party on Phelps Mountain before they were taken down from Facebook.

Photos from the keg party on Phelps Mountain.

Raja Bhatt, 32, of Queens was ticketed for allegedly taking part in a day-use group with more than fifteen people—the legal limit for a day hike in the eastern High Peaks Wilderness.

Bhatt said he didn’t organize the hike or the keg party.

“I was simply on the summit with some friends, and some friend of a friend brought a keg,” he said.

He said the only reason he was ticketed was because he posted photos on Facebook.

The photos showed a large group of people on top of the 4,161-foot summit. In one image, a woman was held upside-down while drinking from the tap. The photos were shared on the Aspiring Forty-Sixers and Adirondack Explorer Facebook pages, eliciting condemnations from many viewers (but not all).

Bhatt said he had finished his 46er round the previous day on Whiteface Mountain. The next morning, he hiked Phelps from Adirondak Loj with six or seven friends. He said other friends and acquaintances hiked up the mountain at different times.

Bhatt estimated that his circle of friends on the summit numbered no more than fifteen.

“Not everyone in those photos was in our group,” he said.

The photo of the upside-down woman notwithstanding, Bhatt said the party was not boisterous and no one on the summit objected to it.

Brian Hoody, the president of the Adirondack Forty-Sixers, said the mountaintop celebration goes against the spirit of his organization. “We neither need nor want members who behave in this fashion,” he told the Explorer.

Neil Woodworth, executive director of the Adirondack Mountain Club, also criticized Bhatt’s actions. “I am appalled at the idea of a keg party on the summit of Phelps,” he said. “… In my opinion, this kind of behavior is certainly inconsistent with the character and respect for the mountains that I expect of a 46er.”

Woodworth added that he believes a similar celebration took place recently on Cascade Mountain.

Bhatt faces a possible fine of up to $250 and up to 15 days in jail.

NOTE: The article has been revised to include comments of Raja Bhatt and reflect the fact that he is charged with being part of a group that exceeded size limits, not with organizing the hike or the party. A longer story that also includes comments from another hiker on Phelps is now available at Adirondack Almanack.

 

 

 

Phil Brown

Phil Brown has been editing the Adirondack Explorer since 1999. When he isn't at his desk, he's usually out hiking, paddling, skiing, or doing something else important. You can follow his adventures and his musings on the Adirondacks in the Explorer and on this blog.

49 Responses

  1. Michael French says:

    Hi Phil.

    I really hope you contacted the person affected most by your story BEFORE writing a story about him?

    Mike

    • Phil Brown says:

      We could not contact him initially, but we have since added his comments to the article above. A more complete story on Adirondack Almanack (which will appear in the Explorer) has comments from both him and another hiker in the group.

  2. Tim says:

    This man may have been wrongfully ticketed and this article has a condemning tone to it. As long as the group was under 15, and any numbers above that were a different party, and they left no trace, then there’s no wrongdoing here.

  3. lauriej says:

    Nothing extreme happened here.No signs of littering.just drinking beer? Surely not the first time beer was drank on a high peak.The fine/and jail, ridiculous.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I was with the group that day. There were no more than 15 of us. We all left at seperate times. I left an hour before anyone else (by myself) because I hike slow. The person ticketed did not organize the hike, and did not carry the keg. He finished his 46 the day before on WhiteFace. He is being punished for posting pictures. There were no glass containers carried on us, and we didn’t drink excessively (keg was 1/4 full or less on the summit because it was too heavy to carry otherwise.

  5. Matt says:

    I once took a group of school kids up a dec maintained trail. There were 30 of us in our group. Was that illegal??

  6. John Henry says:

    So not inviting that many or not knowing them all, yet still partaking absolves him? Maybe the ticket but no of poor judgement. He posed and posted the photos with pride.

    Few take a ways.

    Anyone on their first hike now thinks this is the norm who came across them.

    If I came across this I may have said nothing as the group was drinking and who knows the reaction, but it would have ruined my experience.

    If anyone was hurt we taxpayers get to pick up the costs.

    I have no desire to click off lists and post photos cheapened by a party moment. A mnt dew, red bull, go pro mindset I hope dies off. (I would have a beer or toast)

    Bottom line, We do not need to Jersey Shore or Kardashian the Adk park.

    Phil I am on this one with you with disgust and I as pissed as you are.

    • Bill says:

      “So not inviting that many or not knowing them all, yet still partaking absolves him?”

      Yes it does. My money is on this being dismissed.

    • Amit Joshi says:

      “Anyone on their first hike now thinks this is the norm who came across them.”

      Hardly. It was posted on the Aspiring 46ers page. How many people have their first hike on a high peak in the Dacks? Your statement is delusional at best.

      “If I came across this I may have said nothing as the group was drinking and who knows the reaction, but it would have ruined my experience.”

      A fair point, but you don’t know what was actually happening up there. You are making assumptions based on pictures. The article has been re-edited (with no indication it was edited which is shoddy journalism), to show the other side of the story, and the fact that it was not a boisterous party.

      “If anyone was hurt we taxpayers get to pick up the costs.”

      For what? There were plenty of people there to assist if someone got hurt. These are not the kinds of people who call the authorities for help. They are the people who go help those who the authorities can’t get to. These aren’t people who try climbing Trap Dike in flip flops.

      “I have no desire to click off lists and post photos cheapened by a party moment. A mnt dew, red bull, go pro mindset I hope dies off.”

      Get off your high horse. Show respect to how other people want to enjoy themselves and share with their friends. All rules were followed; you just want to police behavior because it suits your twisted sense of “how things should be”.

      “Bottom line, We do not need to Jersey Shore or Kardashian the Adk park.”

      These people you are chastising in such an asinine manner also volunteer, clean up the garbage left by others, promote leave no trace and rescue others. And your assessment based on a finale celebration seems to imply that you think this is the norm. You don’t have all the facts, so don’t comment until you do.

      “Phil I am on this one with you with disgust and I as pissed as you are.”

      The author of this article did a poor job researching it, and showed quite a bit of bias. This is poor journalism at best and libel at worst. Thankfully, he eventually got Raja’s side of the story, but not before publishing this with only one side of the tale told. And that one side was based on interpretation of pictures he posted, not any witnesses.

      I’m sure you feel you’re opinion is right, John, but until you have all the facts, it is not for you to judge. Please respect that not everyone out there is exactly like you, and let people celebrate their accomplishments how they see fit.

      • Anonymous says:

        Again. I was on the hike. I know the facts. I choose not to reveal my name because of my workplace etc.

        In fact on my way down there was a woman (not in our group) that twisted her ankle and it was swollen and cooling in the river along to Marcy Dam. One of the people in our less than 15 “group” is an EMT. I stopped to help because I was first aid certified. He stayed with her, bandaged her up. Another person in our group left his hiking poles for the woman to use. Again, I’m a slow hiker and we all walked back together.

        NO ONE was careless and hurt. We helped others that were hurt along the trail. I picked up litter as I walked down. Making assumptions based on sensationalized writing (without objectivity by the author) makes you as uneducated about the event as he is.

      • gscott says:

        Following Leave No Trace is about more than picking up trash. It’s also about respecting other people’s ability to enjoy the wilderness. https://lnt.org/learn/principle-7.
        I’ve read quite a few comments on various forums from people who were supposedly on this trip who are defending their actions. But I haven’t read a person say “I’m really sorry if we did something wrong” or in any way express any remorse. I don’t know any of you but the tone is extremely self-entitled. There doesn’t seem to be any effort to understand why some people might find the photos offensive, why there’s a big difference between having a beer and cracking open a keg, or why it might be a bad idea to normalize this type of behavior.

    • John says:

      You sound like a crotchety old man. Get a life.

      • Chris says:

        And you seem unable or unwilling to respond reasonably to an argument. (See how my unreasonable comment reflects yours?)

    • Oldmt46R says:

      I’m with you John and Phil. The mt summits are not the place for this. Do it in your campsite or back at your own home. Some people have no respect for the outdoors and other people!

  7. Rick274 says:

    Tickets should only be issues by a law enforcement agency if the law was broken. “not in the sprit of the 46ers”? You sound like some older skiers when snowboards hit the scene. Excessive? Maybe, but who am I to judge if the party was under control and no one littered (which is a pet peeve of mine).

    Who hasn’t had a beer or shot after a hike? Let him/her without sin cast the first stone.

    If it was up to the Rangers and some ADKers we wouldn’t be allowed in the park; to enjoy nature and sometimes, a little fun.

    signed,
    A-45er

  8. Jim says:

    Becoming a 46-R is a tough accomplishment. Everyone celebrates in their own way. I had some champagne with family and friends.

    The 46-R and ADK response is your typical politically correct babble, better to say nothing.

    I tell people that in the 70-80 peaks I have done
    I have never met any nasty or obnoxious people. So someone celebrates or gets married, gets engaged, hey congrats, give them a high five, enjoy life.

    If seeing people celebrating and enjoying live upsets you so then your meds need to be increased.

    Not long ago I had a friend get killed, in the prime of his life, lighten up and enjoy the ride cuz it can end very quickly.

  9. Paul says:

    Ok folks. So from now on, watch out when taking pictures. Make sure there are less than 15 people in the pictures you take, because obviously they are all together with you.

    While we are at it, lets limit the amount of entries we allow into ADK. Columbus Day weekend had over 50 people on the summit of Marcy at the same time; chatting, yelling, littering, smoking, and probably breaking some other rules. If you have pictures of that, make sure you take them down, cause you will get a ticket, and get crucified for being the organizer of everything that has ever gone wrong in the ADK…

    Come on people…Posting a picture is not proof of any allegations being thrown around.

  10. Billy Bob says:

    Where’s the outrage while the ADK trail crew destroys Kaaterskill Falls in the Catskills with fences, steps and viewing platforms? Cutting down trees to make room for new paths and to increase the view, digging away into the cliff to widen paths. You people have an ass backwards perspective of what is right and wrong as you ruin my wilderness preserve for the claim of safety while all you really want to do is generate tourism. Meanwhile you’re so full of it that you’re wiping yourself and leaving toilet paper at the top of every summit I hike to. Priorities people!

    • Sue says:

      Thank you for this-
      it drives me nuts -safety and tourism. They are destroying Kaaterskill Falls. A small sign, if any- hike at your own risk -suffices.

  11. Anonymous Hiker says:

    Isn’t it also illegal to drink in a state park? A summit beer or a swig of whiskey at the top is well deserved and a nice way to celebrate (although still technically illegal). A keg is a little bit excessive…

  12. Amit Joshi says:

    Mike and Phil, even though you haven’t gone to press, this is still on the internet and is presented as a legitimate news article, regardless if it is in the “Outtakes” section. When making major changes to the article, which you did to show Raja’s side of the story and removed the portion where you stated he did not respond to requests for comment, you should indicate that clarification below.

    http://www.ghnewsroom.com/article/99999999/NEWS/301119946

    “Corrections should be published promptly and prominently. As soon as a correction is verified and approved, it should be published in the next print edition and as quickly as practicable online. Corrections and clarifications should be located in an anchored, visible, consistent position every day in the newspaper, and be located at the top of the online story.”

  13. Michelle says:

    Did they leave a mess at the summit? Did they behave inappropriately? Was anyone drunk and puking? Did the person ticketed organize the gathering?

    According to your story, the answer to all of the above seems to be no, so what is the problem?

  14. Frank says:

    I’m picturing the author mid 50’s, single, never left academia. It’s a few friends having a great time on a mountain….relax. Also, would you rather cans/bottles, subsequently creating more trash for the park?

  15. Becca says:

    I am a personal friend of Raja, and it’s because of Raja that I discovered the beauty of the Adirondacks this year, having hiked Wright and Algonquin with him just a few weeks back. Raja is an avid hiker and becoming a 46er is all he’s talked about this year. He lives and breathes ADK, and only in the most respectful way. He follows every single rule of the mountain and educates those who don’t know them as well – signing in and out of the park, no littering, etc. – all the things that keep the Adirondacks so beautiful.

    But perhaps most important is his love for ADK. No one talks about the Adirondacks with as much excitement and passion as Raja. It’s infectious, and thanks to him, dozens of new people have experienced the Adirondacks this year.

    Raja is the type of person the Adirondacks Explorer should be celebrating, not condemning. You really got this one wrong.

    • Phil Brown says:

      We are not condemning him. We are reporting the facts as we know them. The story includes quotes from Raja. In the Almanack story, we also quote another hiker who was on the summit and defended him. The Almanack story is essentially what will appear in the Explorer. That said, we cannot ignore those who do condemn the keg party.

      • Mercedes says:

        Phil Brown, you said: “We are reporting the facts as we know them”. From the get go the headline that you chose for your article “DEC Tickets Hiker After Keg Party On Phelps” is misleading, making people think that the person in question was ticketed for having a keg party. All you do here is twisting the facts to create a sensationalist article, God knows to which purpose. It’s irresponsible and preposterous.
        If I were Raja Bhatt you and the organization would have a lawsuit for libel in your hands already.
        Preposterous.

        • Phil Brown says:

          Mercedes, the headline is accurate. Raja was ticketed after posting photos of the keg party on Facebook. The photos led to the charge. So there is a causal connection between the keg party and the ticket. We are not taking sides. We have quoted people on both sides.

      • Anonymous says:

        I would be happy to give an anynomous interview with the facts.

        Fact: 1. The group size was less than 15.
        Fact: 2. No glass was taken up the mountain.
        Fact: 3. No one was inebriated or had impaired judgement. Fact: 4. Everyone hiked down safely without injury.
        Fact: 5. Everyone hiked down without causing harm to the trail or delicate wildlife or vegetation.
        Fact: 6. All trash/ items were carried in and carried out.
        Fact: 7. Raja did not organize the hike.
        Fact: 8. Raja did not carry the keg.
        Fact: 9. Raja took and posted pictures.
        Fact: 10. There are no more than 15 people in any of the pictures.
        Fact 11: People in our group helped an injured hiker that was not in our group.
        Fact 12: I was in the group and I picked up trash on the way out left from other hikers.

        To deliberately make assumptions because people are drinking beer from a small keg than a bottle (that can easily be discarded) is wrong.

        Objectivity, interviewing both sides proves good journalism. The initial article made me upset. One sided and persuasive. If persuasion is your desired from of news, you should be writing for Fox News.

        • Phil Brown says:

          Anonymous, regarding your facts:

          1. DEC, not we, is saying the group size exceeded 15. We quote Raja saying it did not.

          2. The story says nothing about glass.

          3. Story does not say anyone was drunk. The updated story on the Almanack quotes a hiker saying people were not drunk.

          5. (you skipped 4).Story does not suggest otherwise.

          6. Story does not suggest trash was left on mountain.

          7. Story quotes Raja as saying he did not organize the hike.

          8. Story quotes Raja saying a friend of a friend in another hiking party carried the keg.

          9. Story says Raja posted the photos, which he admits.

          10. I haven’t counted, but others dispute this. DEC says the charge is based partly on an interview with Raja. We don’t know what was said in that interview.

          11. That was a nice thing to do.

          12. That also was a nice thing to do.

        • Phil Brown says:

          Now I see #4. We’re glad everyone got down safely. However, that has no bearing on the charge.

      • Mercedes says:

        Phil Brown, don’t play dumb. The title suggest that the ticket was issued because of the keg party because that’s what you wanted the title to suggest. If the group brought a keg to the top and they brought it back down, there’s nothing illegal about it. You and other people might not like it but that’s your personal opinion. No law broken there. The ticket was issued for group oversize. Furthermore, this photo doesn’t prove a thing. It doesn’t prove that Raha Bahtt organized the hike, or that all the people in the picture were part of the same group. My guess is that the case will be dismissed. This group doesn’t only bring back everything they bring up but they pick up the trash that they find and bring it back.They are very careful about leaving everything the way they found it. There are no signs of damage or trash in these photos. Your article is misleading and singles out one person without having all the facts (at least the first version of the article). You are making sensationalist journalism and you know it.

      • Becca says:

        Phil,

        Your article was written with the sole purpose of defamation. You could have kept Raja’s name private, and still communicated the same point about what you feel is acceptable behavior at the summit. However, you chose to call out Raja’s first and last name and where he lives. Seems unnecessary and pretty lowbrow. My comments posted here were simply to paint Raja in the light he deserves.

        Please think about the people who’s lives you’re affecting when you decide to go on a “social shaming” campaign.

  16. Oldmt46R says:

    You know it’s one thing to have a few beers or a few hits from a flask but to have a keg party on the summit,that’s BS!You want to party do it at your campsite NOT on the summit of a mt.
    People like this will ruin for others who want to enjoy the peace and quiet of the mts.

  17. whoareyou says:

    Well, aren’t Brian Hoody and Neil Woodworth ‘special’.

    Brian Hoody – “We neither need nor want members who behave in this fashion.” And what ‘fashion’ is that, Brian? Having a few beers? That somehow bothers you? Their fun and enjoyment bothers you? Maybe their idea of fun ain’t your idea of fun? But being that this is YOUR domain you think you should have it your way, huh, Brian? Elitist.

    Neil Woodworth – “I am appalled at the idea of a keg party on the summit of Phelps.” Because why? A few friends having a few beers somehow, for some reason, in some way, bothers you? What is the basis for your position? Oh wait, it was “in your opinion”. Well, maybe your opinion isn’t the opinion of all. But being that this is YOUR domain you think you should have it your way, huh, Neil?

  18. 46 KEGer says:

    The humorless, over zealous DEC Officer’s ticket is going to have unintended consequences. This story has inspired me to start a new club. Please join me in bringing a keg to the top of all 46 high peaks. The new badge will have a great logo of a keg on top of a mountain. OK, I’m kidding about that because maybe the DEC is reading this and they’ll give me a ticket too.

    Since when can a peace officer look at a facebook photo and write a ticket? When did the USA turn into the USSR? It’s obvious that the DEC couldn’t find fault with the keg so they gave a ticket for some other infraction. I would like to see that DEC officer fired for abuse of power.

    • Mercedes says:

      46 KEGer, I think you just had an amazing idea. I think this new club should be organized and the badge should have a KEG on top of the mountain. I also agree that the peace officer is the one who should get a ticket issued for stupidity… Oh, wait stupidity is not illegal as neither is having a keg in the top of a mountain!

  19. Greg says:

    Who freaking cares? As long as they didn’t leave a SINGLE piece of garbage, or damage ANY piece of the landscape on the way up and down, and as long as they didn’t hinder the hiking experience for anyone else, then who cares? Everyone enjoys nature in different ways; there is absolutely no one “correct” way to celebrate and enjoy the outdoors and nature.

    SO much judgement coming from so many people here. Is that really the cool thing to do? No, definitely not.

    This was a wild thing to do, I’m sure it was fun as hell. And that’s part of what hiking and nature is about: fun as hell!!! Some people seek serenity and transcendence and oneness in the quiet solitude, which is awesome and rewarding, but sometimes people want to have a different kind of time on a mountain, and THAT IS OKAY.

  20. 46 KEGer says:

    Why wasn’t my message from yesterday posted?

  21. HANGOVER HILL

    Jack and Jill went up the hill a-toting a keg of brew.
    Then when they got to the summit, they did what folks will do.
    They sipped and quaffed and guzzled and chugged ’til they had of that beer their full fill
    Then along came a killjoy park ranger who slapped them both with the bill.
    Poor Jack and poor Jill by that ranger rebuked
    And all the way down they pissed, heaved and puked.
    A day that had started so mellow
    Ended badly because of that fellow.

  22. JC says:

    The title of the post says “That is a keg WE brought to the summit” and one of the photos includes 15 people who all appear to be together plus the picture taker. Not sure what other evidence the DEC officer had but photo does seem to support the ticket.

  23. der Hund says:

    If encon has time to pursue this silly stuff perhaps they are overstaffed.

  24. Neil says:

    As far as I know this newly minted 46er and his friends have been reported to have brought a keg to the top of Phelps, having an over-sized group and it’s inferred they were rambunctious and noisy. Gotta admit, having Mr. Bhatt sifted through his pictures and chosen and posted over the world-wide web the keg stand photo is pretty bad “optics” on his part.

    Several times ad in various places I have read that no one littered. If this is being said in defense of the so-called keg party it’s rather lame. It’s like saying, after being chastised for making some unwelcome or obtrusive outburst in a lecture hall or church (probably not illegal actions but objectionable and rude nevertheless), “get off my case, not only did I not leave any trash behind but I picked some up off the steps on my out.”

    No one is accusing anyone of being a litterbug.

  25. Neil says:

    This incident has a lot more to do with wilderness ethics than reducing it to technical points regarding the exact number of participants, the self-reported non-littering or any other specific infraction.

    This is my take on it, which some may agree with and others not.

    To me it’s not so much whether the group size was technically too big (where there 14 or 15 people in that picture?), whether anyone complained or not or whether any trash was left behind.

    It’s about that very rare thing called wilderness and the seeming lack of awareness of its importance in the mind of the some of peak-bagging public’s mind.

    Going forward from the keg party incident (what’s done is done) I think it might be good to reflect upon what the wilderness designation signifies and how to educate the “Facebook crowd”. Land that is designated as Wilderness is very special land and there is not all that much of it. Historically, the realization that preserving some land as wilderness might be a good idea came about as the American frontier was being pushed all the way to the west coast. This idea led eventually to the passing of the 1964 Wilderness Act. (major telescoping of history here) We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to Zahniser and all of the people who devoted so much of their lives and money towards the enactment of wilderness legislation. Their foresight and huge efforts are a big part of what gives us all the ability to sit on Phelps Peak and not look out and see housing, ski lifts or roads or hear the roar of all-terrain vehicles.

    I suppose one can argue that the Adirondacks patchwork isn’t a “real“wilderness and use that argument to justify all sorts of behavior and attitudes. However, it’s the only wilderness we have in these parts and the legislation that keeps development at bay is in itself very real. In fact, wilderness legislation and the Forever Wild clause are what contributed to make places like Phelps such special and rare treasures. This incident is a suggestion that there is an attitude afoot that there is nothing special or unique about wilderness and that it may serve as a mere backdrop for all sorts of fun, including the organization of keg parties. Possibly, the celebrants have never been exposed to the concept of wilderness or have had reason to pause and reflect on its significance.

    Just two days ago a friend of mine and I were sitting on a rocky outcrop on the summit of the hundred highest peak, Saddleback in the Jay Wilderness. We remarked that without protection the ridges and summits surrounding us would probably be home to housing developments, more ski resorts, agricultural fields and roads with cars everywhere. We also agreed that we greatly preferred to be sitting quietly enjoying the natural beauty that surrounded us without the imposition of a group of people having a party right there next to us.

    If I was the judge and I deemed Mr. Bhatt guilty I would not fine him. Instead I would require that he read Wilderness and the American Mind and present me with a 50 page summary, typed single space in size 12 font with 1 inch margins all around. Then I would have the summary posted on Facebook.

    Mark Twight is often quoted as saying it doesn’t have to be fun to be fun. I take that as meaning there are different kinds of fun. Everyone likes to have fun. There are settings appropriate and inappropriate to each kind of fun.

  26. Daniel Africk says:

    I’m a little late to this, but since this concerns a good friend of mine, I have to comment. This article, and the ensuing comments, are full of false assumptions and mischaracterizations. I’m a good friend of Raja Bhatt, as well as several of the other hikers there that day. These are not the reckless, inconsiderate, ‘Fraty’ / ‘Broey’, type of people that many have assumed, and there was no ‘keg party’. Raj is one of the most conscientious, considerate, responsible, and kind-hearted hikers I know. He practices strict leave-no-trace practices, is very passionate about the outdoors, and has helped spread that passion to other new hikers. And yes, he knows how to have a good time. Same goes for many of the other people in that group. These are people who often pick up other people’s trash and pack it out, and would be the first to stop and help out any other hiker in need (in fact, on this very trip, some of the people in that group stopped to help out a random injured hiker, sprained ankle I think, on the way down). My friend, and this group as a whole, have been caricatured in a manner that is far from reality, these are exactly the kind of people you would want more of, not less, in the mountains.

    There was no planned or organized keg party. A large group of friends where staying at the Adirondack Loj campground nearby over the weekend. They were doing a variety activities in small groups, including hiking various trails in separate groups. I know because I was planning to go, but had to cancel at the last minute. They are a fun-loving group and brought plenty of beer to the campground, including that small keg. There was some beer left in that keg the next morning, so someone had the idea to carry that partially-filled keg up the mountain. It wasn’t Raj’s idea, and he didn’t buy or carry that keg, or play any part in organizing it. So some friends who were at the mountain top at the right time, got to share in a little beer and some fun photos. That was it. No one got drunk, no litter was left. Since I wasn’t physically there, I can’t say how loud people were, but I can tell you what my experience has been like with these same people on similar hikes: These are friendly, courteous people, with a wide variety of backgrounds, ages, etc. Not the sort that would be loud or obnoxious or intimidating for random hikers to approach. They know how to have a good time, yes, but not in a disrespectful way. Get whatever frat party scene you’re imagining out of your head. I’m sure any other hikers on that mountain would have found the group friendly and perhaps amusing, and if anything, they probably would have been offered a beer.

    I can understand why many people jumped to the conclusions they did, based on the misleading headline and out-of-context photo. If I didn’t know the people involved, I would quite possibly do the same myself. I can even understand the author jumping to those conclusions, after a lapse in judgment by failing in the journalistic responsibility of fact-checking. Journalists aren’t perfect, mistakes happen. What is utterly unacceptable, is making false claims in the original article, hiding the (partial) corrections that were eventually made, and failing to apologize and set the record straight once (if?) he realized his mistake.

    The original article stated that ‘Raj could not be contacted’, when no attempt was actually made to contact him. It also claimed that Raj organized the trip, among other false statements. This was only corrected once Raj reached out to the author. And while the author has made some corrections, the disparaging headline and tone of the article remain. If the author would just admit that he was wrong, and made some rash assumptions in the hopes of a catchy headline, and clearly apologize for dragging my friend’s name through the mud, I don’t think people would think less of him- quite the opposite. Everyone makes mistakes, and I respect people who can own up to them, and make things right.

    On the one hand, this whole thing was blown out of proportion, and is just a silly article in a small paper (though it was picked up by the AP and has been republished in many other publications..). But on the other hand, my friend’s name and character has been publicly disparaged, and this article is now showing up as the #6 search result on Google. Simply because he posted a photo of friends having a good time. That is a big deal. How would you feel if one of the top Google results for your name is a misleading and disparaging article about a keg party? Who knows what kind of effect that could have on someone’s career. So to anyone reading this, I want to set the record straight. And if the author is reading the comments, Mike Lynch and Phil Brown, please do the right thing. There’s nothing wrong with showing a little humility, and it’s not too late for you to do the right thing.

Leave a Reply