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Status & Evolution of the High Sierra Spring Thaw of 2019 sticky icon

High Sierra Spring of 2019
Evolution of Conditions

Page Started
March 30, 2019

July 7, 2019



A Heavy Snow Year

July 5 2019
A Month of Warm-"Temperate" Temps with Rapid & Slow periods of Thawing.
Heavy Spring Snowpack Persisting into Summer: Extra Caution, Information, Skills, Fitnesss and Proper Gear still REQUIRED.
71% of Average Snowpack

June 17 2019
Two Weeks of Warm Temps & Rapid Thawing
120% of Average Snowpack

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Who’s Responsible for Your Mountain Safety? sticky icon


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.
I'm Seeing Red! 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.


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Watch Out for the Green Water: Blue-Green Algae News and Safety Information sticky icon

Watch Out for the Green Water

Toxic Algal Bloom
Blue green algae in Klamath River, credit to OSU.
Toxic Microcystis algae grow in a large bloom in the Copco Reservoir on the Klamath River, posing health risks to people, pets and wildlife. Go Beaves, credit to OSU!


It's that time of year again, as Spring turns into Summer and our extraordinarily warming waters present increasing blue-green algae threats.

The Basics
Do not drink, or allow your animals or children to drink from or play in water containing cynobacteria, otherwise known as toxic blue-green algae. Review the Blue-Green News just below and the safety information at the bottom of this page:

Blue-Green Algae Safety and Identification Information


July 2018,
August 2015:
Rising heat and declining waters are creating conditions even more favorable for cynobacteria, otherwise known as toxic blue-green algae.

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

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

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:

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



Hazards & Alerts: High Sierra Winter of 2018

 Also See
Observation & Analysis

THE WINTER of 2018

Previous Report
Fall 2017 Hazards & Alerts


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

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


High Sierra Mountain Safety




High Sierra Mountain Safety 

High Sierra Mountain Safety TOPICS


High Sierra Mountain Safety NEWS



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



Current Backpacker Alert(s)

Sierra Status, June 7, 2018


Labor Day 2017 Heat, Fire, & Smoke HAZARDS 

Labor Day 2017, TRAIL NEWS


Video Two: 
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Half Dome Permit Policy Safety Analysis



Half Dome
From the Trail Guide
Liberty Cap in Shadows with Half Dome towering over Mount Broderick.
Liberty Cap in Shadows with Half Dome towering over Mount Broderick, Looking from just West of Nevada Falls, Guide, Map.


Half Dome Safety Analysis

Restricted permit-only access to Yosemite National Park's Half Dome summit, anticipated to improve hiker safety, did not,
Elsevier, June 26, 2019.


2010 Half Dome Permit Restrictions
"Implementation in 2010 of permit-only access to Half Dome cable handrails along the final ascent of this iconic landmark reduced the number of people on the summit at one time, but this did not result in a significant reduction in the overall toll of associated human suffering and mortality, or search and rescue (SAR) activity and costs."

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June 2019 Mount Whitney Missing Hiker Search Finds Fatality




The Whitney Zone

Mount Whitney Fatality,
Mono SAR, June 20, 2019.

Mount Whitney
East Flank: John Muir Wilderness in Inyo NF
West Flank: John Muir Wilderness in SEKI


Mount Whitney Trail Map
Tyndall Creek to Whitney Portal Map



Missing Hiker Search
Mutual Aid
"...contacted for a mutual aid request in support of the search for a 47-year-old Virginia hiker in the Mt. Whitney area missing since June 12. 4 Team members responded, and were assigned a search area to the north of Mirror Lake."

Area Search
"The field team concluded the search of their area without any evidence of the missing hiker. They returned to base via the Mt. Whitney trail."

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Inyo Sheriff June 2019 Temple Crag Rescue



Temple Crag Rescue,
Inyo Sheriff, June 17, 2019.

Temple Craig
The Palisades
John Muir Wilderness in Inyo National Forest
East of Bishop Pass, West of Big Pine, Permits


Rockfall Accident
"On June 15 at around 5:45pm, a male and female party of two were "simul-climbing" (a climbing technique where all climbers climb at the same time while tied into the same rope) the technical rock route “Sun Ribbon Arete” on Temple Crag in the Palisades region of the Sierra Nevada. At about 12,600’ (about 200' from the summit) a rock broke causing the second climber to fall about 20-30’ before being caught by their rope. The team sent a distress signal via their Personal Locator Beacon, and ultimately Inyo County Sheriff’s Office was notified."

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Mono SAR June 2019 Mt Morrison Rescue



CHP H40 Rescue Copter Framed by Mount Morrison
H40 landed at the Mammoth-Yosemite airport, Mount Morrison in background. Mono SAR Photo.
"H40 landed at the Mammoth-Yosemite airport," Mount Morrison in background. Mono SAR Photo.


Eastern Sierra Accident

Mt Morrison Rescue,
Mono SAR, June 11, 2019.


Mount Morrison
In the John Muir Wilderness of the Inyo National Forest. I don't currently have a map depicting Mt Morison, but it is located a short distance off the East edge of this map from Lake Genevieve. This map depicts the route of the JMT-PCT over the Silver Divide, which locates Mount Morrison on a line between the Silver Divide and the Mammoth Airport, on the Eastern Flank of the Sierra overlooking the Airport, as we can see in the image above.

"...respond to a report of a 68 year old male from Chalfant, CA, injured in a fall on the south side of Mt. Morrison, at an approximate elevation of 11,200’."

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Transgenic Fungus Rapidly Killed Malaria Mosquitoes in West African Study



Welcome to The MosquitoSphere
Simulated Village Setting for the Fungal Spider Toxin Study
The MosquitoSphere, Etienne Bilgo, University of Maryland.
MosquitoSphere, a roughly 6,550-square-foot, screened-in structure in Burkina Faso, West Africa, was designed to simulate a village setting and included plants, huts, small pools of water and a food source for mosquitoes. Etienne Bilgo, University of Maryland.


Island of Doctor Moreau? Are We Warping an Entire Planet?

Transgenic Fungus Rapidly Killed Malaria Mosquitoes in West African Study,
University of Maryland, May 30, 2019.


The Skeeter Scope
"...malaria affects hundreds of millions of people around the world, killing more than 400,000 annually."

"...insecticide use has failed to control mosquitoes that carry the malaria parasite and has led to insecticide-resistance..."

"...scientists began genetically modifying mosquitoes..."

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Mountain Health, Fitness, & Safety: Two Ways to Die Under the Snow: Suffocation & Freezing



Two Ways to Die Under the Snow: Suffocation & Freezing

Avalanche Victims: When can Rewarming Lead to Survival?
Eurac Research, May 28, 2019.


"This study analysed the data relating to 103 avalanche victims admitted with cardiac arrest to seven major hospitals in Europe, between 1995 and 2016."

Two Types of Avalanche Deaths
"Of the 103 victims, 61 were rewarmed, but only 10 per cent survived; in the other cases it was not the hypothermia that caused the cardiac arrest, but suffocation during the avalanche or trauma."

The Survival Standard
Frozen or Suffocation Heart Stoppage?
"...hospitals require accurate guidelines based on significant evidence to justify extracorporeal rewarming using the heart-lung machine."

Survival Standards Found
"The factors that have emerged as decisive in this study are the core temperature and the concentration of serum potassium, the latter is related to cell degeneration. Using both these parameters, doctors can assess which patients have the potential to survive and which do not."

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May 2019 Mono SAR Rescue: Back Country Skier Falls, Breaks Leg Badly




Nasty Accident above Twin Lakes

Back Country Skier Falls, Breaks Leg Badly,
Mono Search and Rescue, May 20, 2019.

Rescue of May 18-19, 2019.

Little Slide Canyon, off Robinson Creek, above Twin Lakes

Backpacking Trail Map


"...up Little Slide Canyon. About 30 minutes after crossing the creek, they hit the snowline, and put on their skis and skins and continued up the canyon."

Little Slide Canyon

Knarly Back Country Accident
"On the descent, one of the skiers fell from about 3/4 height, and tumbled and slid down the couloir, and when the fall ended, he found he had multiple left leg fractures, but most notably an open tib-fib with considerable bone exposed."

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2019 Murder on the Appalacian Trail



Crazy on the AT in Virginia, One AT hiker Killed, One Injured,

Knife attack prompts precautions on Appalachian Trail,
WHSV TV, May 14, 2019.

Judge orders psych evaluation for Appalachian Trail suspect,
WHSV TV, May 13, 2019.

Updated Below


Weird Dude
"...the past couple of weeks, hikers along the Appalachian Trial had been warning each other about a hiker who was threatening other hikers with a large knife."

"The man, who had the trail nickname of "Sovereign," was arrested in North Carolina last month after some hikers reported him to authorities."

"James Jordan, 30, of West Yarmouth, Massachusetts, is charged with murder and assault with intent to commit murder. During his initial appearance Monday in U.S. District Court in Abingdon, Virginia, a judge ordered him to be held in custody and to undergo a psychiatric evaluation."

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SEKI WARNS: Lots of Snow on the South Sierra Crest & Flanks



Seasonal News of Note

Sherman Tree Parking Area and Comfort Station
Sherman Tree Parking Area and Comfort Station, Image by SEKI, NPS.
Image by SEKI, NPS.


Lots of Snow on the Sierra Crest & Flanks

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks Expect Some Late Facility Openings Due to Heavy Snowpack and Hazard Trees,
Sequoia National Park, April 5, 2019.


"...have become accustomed to the light winters that the drought has produced."

"...Sequoia and Kings Canyon is 153% of normal."

"Azalea Campground closed on Tuesday, April 2, due to the large number of hazard trees in the campground."

"In an abundance of caution for park visitors, crews are working to address these tree hazards before facilities open for the season."

"...there are currently no open campgrounds in Kings Canyon."

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Inyo SAR-CHP Mt. Russell Rescue



Mount Russell from CHP Inyo SAR's Perspective
Mt. Russell Rescue, Inyo SAR CHP helicopter view.
Thanks to Inyo SAR-CHP for the rescue, and the view.


The Southern Sierra

Mt. Russell Rescue,
Inyo SAR, April 8, 2019.


"...April 7, the Inyo County Sheriff’s Office received an emergency satellite transmission requesting a rescue near Mt. Whitney."

"...four climbers attempting to summit Mt. Russell (14,088’) had gotten off route while descending and were stuck on the side of a cliff above a steep couloir (around 13,000’ in elevation). The party had no way of getting either up or down."

"...5:30 PM, CHP located the four subjects on Mt. Russell and lowered an Inyo SAR team member via a 100’ cable hoist to their position."

"...took the first subject to the Lone Pine airport and refueled. When the helicopter returned, the rescue team hoisted the remaining three climbers and dropped them to their camp near Lower Boyscout Lake one at a time."


Trail Guide

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Search Continues for Missing Marine


Badass Behind Schedule

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


Kearsarge Pass on Feb 24

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

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."



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March 6




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

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


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


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Mountain Lion Attack Repelled, Lion Killed in Colorado



Mountain Lion Attack Repelled in Colorado

 North American Cougar
(Puma concolor couguar)
North American cougar (Puma concolor couguar) in Glacier National Park in the U.S. state of Montana. By the National Park Service.
Glacier National Park in the U.S. state of Montana. National Park Service


A Mountain Lion Attacked a Runner. He Choked It to Death and Escaped.
NY Times, February 5, 2019.


“A man running along a trail in Colorado who was attacked by a young mountain lion this week managed to choke it to death and escape...”

“The body of the mountain lion, which officials said was less than a year old and weighed under 70 pounds, was found on the trail near some of the man’s possessions and was taken to a lab for examination.”

“The man, who had been running along the West Ridge Trail at Horsetooth Mountain Open Space — about 65 miles north of Denver...heard “something behind him on the trail,” and when he turned around to see what it was, the lion lunged at him and bit his face and wrist.”

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