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Backpacking Safety


Information and tips to improve your back country and backpacking safety practices.

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Search Continues for Missing Marine sticky icon

MOUNTAIN SAFETY

Badass Behind Schedule

Update: Multi-agency search for missing Marine,
Sierra Wave, March 10, 2019.

MAIN POINTS

Departed
Kearsarge Pass on Feb 24

Conditions
See Calendar, End of Feb
Heavy snow fall from 25th to 27th, followed by short break with lite to moderate snow through the 7th.

Planned
Arrival Date:
Twin Lakes on the 5th

“This is the sixth day of an intense multiagency search for missing Marine Corps 1st Lieutenant Matthew Kraft...”

"1st Lt. Kraft’s planned itinerary is the 195-mile Sierra High Route; he is believed to have hiked out of Kearsarge Pass on Feb 24 with a plan of concluding his hike near the Twin Lakes area by Bridgeport, CA on March 4 or 5."

"Both aerial and ground search operations have been utilized; however, weather conditions in the Sierra have been a significant challenge."

"In addition, two Marines from Kraft’s unit are assisting authorities with search efforts at the Search and Rescue Coordination Center."

 

MAPS
Start

Cayenne's picture

Safety First! First Aid Kit for High Sierra Backpackers sticky icon

Cayenne's
First Aid Kit for High Sierra Day Hikers & Backpackers

 Red Cross, international symbol of First Aid, wiki by Jon Harald Søby

Be Ready
High Sierra Day Hikers & Backpackers

Springing!
Spring has come to the eastern Sierras and time to spring clean the first aid kit. Alex has provided excellent information about his first aid kit in the gear list.

Day Use
I am an avid day hiker, so the contents of my bag are a bit different. I also have extensive medical training and access to prescription drugs, so I try to keep stuff to help out others on the trail. This is the time of year I pull the first aid kit from the depths of my day pack and inspect and refill the contents. My bag is not huge and contains all the things I need to survive the sun, rain, cold, bugs and injury/illness for a few days.

Injuries Encountered
The injuries that I have encountered on the trail are blisters, splinters, cuts and scrapes and the occasional laceration that needs stitches. The illness that I have encountered are mild cases of upset stomach, sunburn, bug bites, sore/strained muscles, heat exhaustion and high altitude sickness.

 

First Aid Gear:

Alex Wierbinski's picture

MARCH 6, 2019 PCT-JMT-TYT HIKER WARNING sticky icon

 

March 6

 

MOUNTAIN SAFETY

HIGH SIERRA SNOW STATUS

PCT-JMT-TYT-TWT Hikers Summer Condsiderations

A "Tropical" Winter
With this last storm, the third Tropical Transport Mechanisms since the beginning of Feburary 2019, (4th since the middle of January), the High Sierra Snowpack is right on the verge of equalling the massive snowpack of 2017. (averages)

High Siera Calendar

Alex Wierbinski's picture

INDEX: ALL Mosquito and Tick News and Information for High Sierra Backpackers sticky icon

Tick and Mosquito News
Mosquitoes are a major issue in the High Sierra,

ticks less so the higher you go.

 

 Updated
February 12, 2019

 

LATEST MOSQUITO NEWS BELOW

 

Also See
Mosquitoes and Seasonal Temperature Shifts:
Backpacking the High Sierra

 

 MOSQUITOES
The Winged Hazard

Mosquitoes WILL BE a significant issue from the dawn of Spring until the moisture dries out of the soils along both flanks and the crest. Each of these dates, of the beginning of Spring and the end of moisture vary every year, but we do have averages. The mosquitoes dry-out by August 15 during an "avergage" year. But the averages are changing, Spring has been coming earlier, while the swings between very wet and very dry seasons seems to be getting abrupt and more intense.

Alex Wierbinski's picture

High Sierra Mountain Safety. Hazards & Alerts: Winter of 2018 sticky icon

 

 

Hazards & Alerts: High Sierra Winter of 2018

 Also See
General
Observation & Analysis

THE WINTER of 2018
 

Previous Report
Fall 2017 Hazards & Alerts

 

Alex Wierbinski's picture

The High Sierra Backpacking and Hiking Mountain Safety News & Topics Page sticky icon

The video embeded here broke
Site Security, So,
See
Tropical storm brings heavy hail, lightening to Sierra Crest July 8 2015
 

 

High Sierra Mountain Safety
NEWS & TOPICS

A.K.A:

A
REVIEW
of
OUR
CURRENT and THEORETICAL HAZARDS

 

High Sierra Mountain Safety 


High Sierra Mountain Safety TOPICS

 

High Sierra Mountain Safety NEWS

 

 

The Other Page 
All Wilderness-Outdoor-Mountain Rescues & Events Log 

 

 

Resources 
Current Backpacker Alert(s)

Sierra Status, June 7, 2018

 

Labor Day 2017 Heat, Fire, & Smoke HAZARDS 

Labor Day 2017, TRAIL NEWS

 

Video Two: 
<iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/YsiGOj6tTDc" frameborder="0" all
Alex Wierbinski's picture

Who’s Responsible for Your Mountain Safety?

MOUNTAIN SAFETY & WILDERNESS ETHICS

The Folks Who Pull Us Out:
California Mountain Rescue Association

MRA met in Mammoth Lakes California to test in "Snow and Ice" for their yearly Re-Accreditation test, hosted in 2016 by Inyo County Search and Rescue. Credit Adorabutton.
MRA met in Mammoth Lakes California in 2016 to test in "Snow and Ice" for their yearly Re-Accreditation test, hosted by Inyo County SAR. Map. Photo Credit, Adorabutton, Wiki.

 

Who’s Responsible for Your Mountain Safety?

Should we stop rescuing people in wilderness?
Adirondack Explorer, February 12, 2019.

MAIN POINTS

New York Wilderness
New York’S 288 conservation officers and 134 forest rangers participated in 346 search-and-rescue missions in 2018.

Alex Wierbinski's picture

High Sierra Cow Anxiety in Upper Clarks Fork Canyon

Close Encounter of the Cow Kind

As I was hiking down the Clarks Fork of the Stanislaus on the unmaintained Tahoe to Yosemite Trail I picked up the enchanting sound of softly clanging cow bells bouncing off the rocky canyon walls until absorbed by the forest.

I figured I'd meet some cows. The narrow canyon certainly makes "our" shared route along the visible bits of route along the unmaintained trail the best solution for both grazing stock and passing backpackers to reach our respective goals. It's cozy. No problem. I like cows.

My goal is always to get past cows with as little trouble as possible. I've dealt with cows many times before, and always gotten myself through quickly, sometimes employing sweet talk, and other times threatening a re-branding if cow-cooperation is found lacking.

I will go freeking cowboy on their huge cow asses.

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Death on the Mist Trail: Visitor Fatality in Yosemite National Park

HIGH SIERRA MOUNTAIN SAFETY

Death on the Mist Trail

Happy Isles Trailhead
Happy Isles Trailhead for the John Muir Trail, Yosemite Valley.
Yosemite Valley, the start point of the JMT, from the trail guide.

Visitor Fatality in Yosemite National Park,
February 25, 2019.

Yosemite Valley Backpacking Map

MAIN POINTS

Alex Wierbinski's picture

September-October, & (November!) 2018 California Fires

 

Page begun
September 5, 2018

LAST Update
November 25th

All Tree & Plant News

  2018
  CALIFORNIA'S FALL FIRES

 Below
September-October
&
   
NOVEMBER !?!?! 

The Earliest
News, Smoke, & Fire Info-Resources on this page below begin on

Sept 3, on the bottom of this page

 

Previous Page, covering Our First Fire Season:
FIRES of JULY & AUGUST 2018

 

ALL SMOKE RESOURCES

 

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Mountain Safety, Sequoia-Kings Canyon, October, 2018

MOUNTAIN SAFETY

SEKI INCIDENTS: What Not to Do...

Incidents in Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks,
Kaweah Commonwealth, October 23, 2018.

MAIN POINTS

Mineral King

A STRANGE ONE

"October 14— At 1:45 a.m., rangers were notified of a satellite device activation atop Franklin Pass registered to a 34-year-old male. Rangers were not able to obtain details of injury/illness. Search-and-rescue operations were planned to be initiated early the following morning. At 8 a.m., Park dispatch was contacted via cell phone by the individual who had activated his PLB. The individual was uninjured, not requesting assistance, and hiking out under his own power. The individual stated that he had activated his PLB when his tent was surrounded by three mountain lions during the night. A further investigation will be conducted. Sequoia-Kings Canyon wildlife officials have been notified of the incident."

 

Grant Grove

"October 9— Rangers provided medical aid to a hunter who was gored by a deer. It was a walk-in medical at the Kings Canyon Visitor Center. The individual initially self-applied a tourniquet to his left leg, and bleeding was later controlled by the ranger. The hunter was later transferred to Sequoia Safety Council and transported."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Two Visitors Fall from Taft Point in Yosemite National Park

 

MOUNTAIN SAFETY

Fall Fatalities

Two Visitors Fall from Taft Point in Yosemite National Park,
Yosemite National Park, October 25, 2018.

“A male and female visitor died in an apparent fall from Taft Point in Yosemite National Park. Yosemite National Park Rangers are recovering the bodies this morning.”

“This incident is under investigation and no further details are available. No photos or videos are available. The identification of the deceased has not yet been determined.”

 

Taft Point
Wiki

Taft Point is West of Glacier Point

 

 

Recently

Tourist Death off Nevada Falls

Yosemite’s Deadly Distraction

 

 

Yosemite National Park Maps

7.5 minute Yosemite Valley Detailed Hiking Map
Click Red Dots for Trail Guide entries for that location

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Sept, 2018: Mountain Lion Fatality, Oregon, Near Mount Hood

MOUNTAIN SAFETY-WILDLIFE

Mountain Lion Fatality

Oregon wildlife officials to hunt for killer cougar,
AP, Yahoo, September 12, 2018.

MAIN POINTS

“…officials with guns and dogs will hunt for a cougar believed to have killed a woman while she was hiking in rugged terrain...”

“Diana Bober, who at 55 was an avid and experienced hiker, apparently fought the cougar with repellant, a sharp object and a stick, her sister said.”

"Diana stood at only 5 feet, 4 inches..."

“...body was found Monday, almost two weeks after she was last heard from. She was the first person known to have been killed by a cougar in the wild in Oregon, and the second in the Pacific Northwest this year.”

...“body was found along the Hunchback Trail, Wolfer said. The trail is described by OregonHikers .org as "wild and rugged" with frequent signs of cougars and coyotes.”

“Diana loved the outdoors, and that's how she should be remembered.”

“In May, a mountain biker in Washington state was killed by a cougar on a trail east of Seattle, the first fatal attack in that state in 94 years.”

 

Spring 2018 Mountain Lion Attack A Bit West of PCT at Snoqualmie

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Mono County Sheriff Search & Rescue: Third Pillar of Mt. Dana

HIGH SIERRA MOUNTAIN SAFETY

Broken Ankle Rescue
Mono Sheriffs SAR lowering down to accident victim, Mt. Dana, Sept 2018.
Mono SAR Lowering Down to accident victim on Mt Dana. Photo Credit: Mono SAR

Third Pillar of Mt. Dana,
Mono County Sheriff Search & Rescue, FACECROOK, September 3, 2018.

MAIN POINTS

“At 1310 the Team received a call for a 38 year old climber from Alameda, CA with a reported fractured ankle at the bottom of the last pitch of the 3rd Pillar of Mt. Dana. “

“The Team responded to Lee Vining airport anticipating an air insertion, but all air resources were reporting as unavailable or available with significant delay, so a hike in was necessary. “

“A Team member was lowered with a litter over the edge of the 700' cliff to the subject. The subject was packaged, and as other members of the field team arrived, a raising was begun with a 7:1 mechanical advantage. The litter stuck briefly at the edge, but was vectored successfully over the lip. ”

Alex Wierbinski's picture

2018 Selfie Tourist Death off Nevada Falls

MOUNTAIN SAFETY

Tourist Death off Nevada Falls

NEVADA FALLS
Nevada Falls, Yosemite National Park
Nevada Falls, Tahoe to Whitney Trail Guide

Teen from Israel reportedly dies in Yosemite after taking selfie atop Nevada Fall,
SFGate, September 6, 2018.

“A teen visiting Yosemite National Park from Israel fell to his death Wednesday while trying to take a selfie, according to an Israeli news report.”

Sign at Nevada Falls

Safety Sign at Nevada Falls, Yosemite National Park.

 

Yosemite Valley Map

Yosemite Valley to Merced Lake or Cathedral Pass

Click red dots for trail guide pages

 

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Tropical Downpour Contributes to Fatality, Flash Flood Warning for Donnell Fire Area

MOUNTAIN SAFETY

HAZARD WARNINGS

Two Reports

Tropical Downpour Contributes to Fatality

NWS Issues Flash Flood Warning for Donnell Fire Area

 

Inciweb, Donnell Fire

September 5, 2018

"CURRENT SITUATION"
Flash Flood Warning
"Yesterday afternoon, the National Weather Service issued a flash flood watch for the Donnell Fire area. All personnel were notified of the incoming thunderstorm, and efforts were made to notify any public that may have been in the area. The fall rainy season is upon us, and severe mountain thunderstorms can develop quickly with little to no warning. The recent fire in conjunction with rainfall has the potential to produce landslides over the affected area."

 

The Bottom Line
The warning above relates the general outlines of the risks of flooding and avalances in fire-ravaged areas.
But, we've got to remember that lightening and unexpected intense weather are serious threats to hikers in the High Sierra at any time, during any season, as are the tropical downpours that often accompany Summertime tropical weather, weather that can turn itself into Summertime snowstorms across higher elevations.

Alex Wierbinski's picture

2018 Fire News, FERGUSON-CARR-DONNELL-MENDO Fires

Started July 16, 2018
LAST Updated August 29th

Tree News

July & August 2018
FIRE NEWS

 FERGUSON-CARR-MENDO-DONNELL
-CRANSTON-
FIRES

AUGUST 29
These fires of Summer are finally winding down, meaning this page is approaching the end of its life, and will soon be retired.

Bookends
Start at the bottom of this page, with the May Warnings of a dire fire season approaching, then work your way back up here to the top, through reports on this year's Summer Fires, and then onto the next page, for the Fall Fire Season of 2018.

NEXT
SEPTEMBER 2018 FIRE NEWS

All Fed Fire Info
Inciweb

All State Fire Info
Calfire

  

Alex Wierbinski's picture

PG&E Spends $1 Million+ on Bribes to Brown, Dims, & California officials to Evade Wildfire Laws

UPDATES
to
ORIGINAL July 26 PG&E STORY:

August 18, Update,

LATEST UPDATE
PGE WITHDRAWS CURRENT ATTEMPT TO BRIBE CA LEG INTO
COMPLIANCE

Direct to Article

PG&E’s bid to change wildfire liability rules appears dead for now,
SF Chron, August 18, 2018.

For now is the operative phrase. PG&E is determined to saddle their costs of doing business, and substantially expand their profits, at the public's expense.

 

August 1 Update

How our Law & Environment are Really Managed

Open PG&E Bribery Finally Hinted at by Press, below

 

 

ORIGINAL STORY

July 26

How Politics Really Works

Jerry Brown: Corporate Whore of PGE


 

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Inyo SAR Middle Palisade Fatal Hiker Fall Recovery

MOUNTAIN SAFETY

Inyo SAR Hiker Fall Fatality

Middle Palisade Recovery,
Inyo SAR, August 23, 2018.

MAIN POINTS

"In the late afternoon of the 18th, (the 61-yearold male) texted his wife in Indiana saying he was behind and may need to camp on the trail."

"On the evening of Saturday, August 18 ICSO SAR coordinators received multiple reports of a deceased subject located on the NE face of Middle Palisade in the Sierra Nevada mountains."

Sunday
"A hasty team of two Inyo SAR members was sent out of the south fork of Big Pine creek Sunday morning..."

"The individual was located around approximately 13,000 ft in steep class 3 terrain and appeared to have taken a tumbling fall."

Image from recovery site
Position of fatality recovery, Middle Palisade, INYO SAR.
Depicting the steep and loose terrain of the NE Face. Photo Credit INYO SAR

"In his final communication with family, the subject indicated that he was moving more slowly than his anticipated pace, potentially resulting in his ascent/descent occurring in the dark and increasing the inherent danger of the route."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

2018, Injured Climber on Mount Conness Located, Freed, & Evacuated (Injury Update)

Injury Update, August 17

 

MOUNTAIN SAFETY

Injured Climber on Mount Conness Located, Freed, & Evacuated

MONO SAR Report

Many come to aid of climber trapped between granite slabs,
Sierra Wave, July 30, 2018.

"On July 29, 2018, at approximately 1:30 pm, Mono County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) Search and Rescue (SAR) received a call from a pair of climbers in the area of the north ridge of Mount Conness."

"The pair explained that they could hear someone screaming for help approximately 1/2 to 3/4 miles northeast of their location. They were unsure of the exact location of the voice but provided SAR with an approximate GPS location..."

"The approximate location of the victim was around 11,400 feet elevation near the base of the Conness Glacier."

"Twelve (12) SAR personnel responded and readied at the Saddlebag Lake trailhead, and the SAR Team then began the hike into the area to attempt to locate and assist the injured person. CHP Helicopter H40 was requested to the area to conduct an aerial search of the area as well."

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