Search Continues for Missing Marine


Alex Wierbinski's picture

By Alex Wierbinski - Posted on 17 March 2019

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

Kersage Pass Regional Backpacking Map

Kersage Pass Detailed Backpacking Map

Finish

Twin Lakes Backpacking Map

 

Also See
Calendar, End of Feb
With reporting stations along his projected route

 

 

Updates

March 16 Update
Inyo Sheriff Moves to Continious Search Mode,
Facecrook

March 8 Update
US Marines First Division,
!st Marines on Facecrook

 

Inyo Sheriff Press Releases

 

Bottom Line

Into the Teeth of Winter
There’ve been 1 major snowfall, and two extended periods of lite to moderate snow, since the First Lt. departed on the 25th, finally transitioning into diminishing showers and clearing a bit by the 28th, before the next series of showers swep the Sierra until finally clearing by the 7th.
The first major episode required hunkering-down in a well made snow cave as it raged, avalanched, then passed on by the 28th. Conditions would remain deep-powder difficult, making for a couple of subsequent days of very hard travel afterward, after the storm of the 25th-27th passed, until it compressed a bit, which also brings the most extreme avalance dangers down a bit.

With each additional light/moderate storm episode spanning from the 2nd to the 7th also producing serious snowfall and most likely feeding or triggering prodigious avalanches, with each snowfall incident requiring a signifiant slowdown in pace due to deep powder conditions, and even a couple of days of hunkering-down time would be wise, as our compaction/avalanche waiting time passes, before beginning again.

Thus, the dude has, hopefully, already hunkered-down a couple of times, potentially for a couple of days each time, before moving on. Moving in these fresh powder conditions, even after giving it a day or two of compaction time, is still very slow and difficult. It takes a while for powder to compress enough for easy travel.
Thus, he is most likely at least four days behind his own schedule, as determined by the schedule of storms that were striking the High Sierra as he began his trip. Maybe more, if he took full safety precautions in the face of the intense weather.

Unless he was swept away in one of the avalanches.

So the question comes down to, “did he hunker down at the correct times and places,” for his own survival, or was he, “caught-out,” in the intense storm and avalanche period he was traversing the Sierra Crest, during mid-winter.

My money is on the Marine. He hunkered down when necessary, moved as safe, and is running four + days behind, as both his expected schedule and pace were both seriously modified, degraded, by Mother Nature.

I hope and expect the Marine to emerge from the mountains soon, or not at all.

Shit happens that even the baddest and most prepped Marine is swept away by.

Nonetheless, my money is still on the Marine. I am hoping he's hunkered down during the worse parts of the storms, and has made a much slower than expected pace, and will unexpectedly punch out through Muir Ranch, or even make it to Mammoth, before too long.

It'd just be amazing if he walked out of the West Walker Trailhead, after taking the decision to forego Twin Lakes, and follow the West Walker to the US Marine Corps Cold Weather Training Station at the base of the Eastern Flank of Highway 108.

Right now they've got SAR folks out from each of the Parks & Forests his route crossed, searching along his projected route.

 

Map
Sonora Pass, Leavitt Meadow, and the US Marines Cold Weather Training Station
Formed after their experiences at Chosin Reservoir

 

 

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2019, winter, SAR, search, Mono, Inyo, missing Marine, Lt Kraft,

 

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