Welcome to the High Sierra Backpacker's Magazine, including forums for local and long-distance hikers sharing info about hiking the Sierra between Tahoe and Whitney.

This Magazine covers everything Sierra. Its
Forums cover TYT, PCT, & JMT and alt-route hiker input from the Guide. The Tahoe to Whitney Trail Guide explores the trails  & the necessary skills, fitness, and gear required to hike from Tahoe to Whitney. This evolving Magazine covers Current Conditions, News, the Arts, Sciences, Physicality, Spirituality, Gear, Environment, History, and Cultures of hiking Tahoe to Whitney. 

Purposes: Expand Knowledge, Explore Potential

for Beginners: To get you off the couch, gear you up, get you into Sierra Shape, and onto the High Sierra Trails. Find info. Ask questions, get feedback, generate self-understanding and terrain awareness. Find killer short routes up and down the High Sierra Crest.

for Backpackers: Get you in deeper, longer, and higher. Train for the long trails. Find your next-steps trips. Hit the Long Trails. Hike the TYT and JMT. Find and explore side trails, alternative, and cross-country routes until you hike your skills into Winter compentency. Explore your potential.

for Experts: The information to come from anywhere in the US or world and backpack from Tahoe to Whitney. The Sierra Nevada is the ultimate wonderland for expert backpackers in top shape. But don't get cocky! The Sierra is bigger, stronger, and has been, and will be here much longer than any of us.  


Alex Wierbinski's picture

Ice Research: Half of Euro Glaciers Gone by 2050, the remainder by 2100

 

OCEANS, ICE, WATER & FISH

Gorner Glacier
Gorner Glacier, by M. Huss, European Geosciences Union.
Gorner glacier at the end of the summer of 2017. The glacier is located in the Monte Rosa massif and is the second largest glacier of the European Alps. Wiki. By M. Huss, European Geosciences Union.

 

Euro Glaciers Gone by 2100

More than 90% of Glacier Volume in the Alps could be Lost by 2100,
European Geosciences Union, April 9, 2019.

MAIN POINTS

Euro Glaciers
"...all glaciers in the Alps, around 4000."

Half Gone by 2050
"...from 2017 to 2050, about 50% of glacier volume will disappear, largely independently of how much we cut our greenhouse gas emissions."

"The Alps would lose about 50% of their present glacier volume by 2050 in all scenarios."

Post 2100
"After 2050, the future evolution of glaciers will strongly depend on how the climate will evolve."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Inyo SAR-CHP Mt. Russell Rescue

 

HIGH SIERRA MOUNTAIN SAFETY

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.

MAIN POINTS

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

Subjects
"...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."

Rescue
"...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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Alaska Skips Mid-Winter to Experience Late Spring Conditions in March

ECO-CRASHING NEWS

Extreme Land Surface Temp Anomalies, March, 2019
Widespread Extreme Heat
Extreme Land Surface Temp Anomalies, March, 2019, NASA Earth Observatory images by Lauren Dauphin.
Darker red colors depict areas that were hotter than March's average temps between 2000-2012; blues were colder than average. Note the widspread deep darkness.
NASA Earth Observatory images by Lauren Dauphin. Big.

 

Alaska Skips Mid-Winter to Experience Late Spring Conditions in March

Alaska Hit With a Hot March,
NASA Earth Observatory, April 9, 2019.

MAIN POINTS

Weird Weather Across Alaska

Records Across Alaska
“The average temperature for March 2019 set records at 10 of 19 ground-based weather stations in Alaska."

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ECO-CRASHING NEWS: Comprehensive Arctic Warming Underway

 

ECO-CRASH NEWS: Arctic Warming

Scene of the Crime
Southern Brooks Range from Dalton Highway
Southern Brooks Range from Dalton Highway, UAF photo by Todd Paris.
Changing beauties of the peaks of the southern Brooks Range along a stretch of the Dalton Highway, about 250 miles north of Fairbanks, UAF photo by Todd Paris.

 

Traditional Arctic Climate & Global Weather Influences Almost Gone

Air temperatures in the Arctic are driving system change,
University of Alaska Fairbanks, April 8, 2019.

MAIN POINTS

Major Changes Underway
“...increasing air temperatures and precipitation are drivers of major changes in various components of the Arctic system."

Unprecedented
"The Arctic system is trending away from its 20th century state and into an unprecedented state, with implications not only within but beyond the Arctic."

"Never have so many Arctic indicators been brought together in a single paper."

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A Glacial Scorecard Since 1961

 

OCEANS, ICE, FISH, & WATER

Regional Share of Glaciers in Sea-Level Rise from 1961 to 2016
Regional share of glaciers in sea-level rise from 1961 to 2016, by Zemp, University of Zurich.

Credit to Zemp, University of Zurich, see the full size map

 

A Glacial Scorecard Since 1961

Melting Glaciers Causing Sea Levels to Rise at Ever Greater Rates,
University of Zurich, April 8, 2019.

MAIN POINTS

Viewpoint
Digital measurement of glaciers, “...with geodetic satellite measurements.”

Human measurements by...“World Glacier Monitoring Service from its worldwide network of observers...”

A Comprehensive Look at Global Glaciers
“...able to reconstruct changes in the ice thickness of more than 19,000 glaciers worldwide.”

“...we can estimate how much ice has been lost each year in all mountain regions since the 1960s,"”

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Speed of Ocean Circulation Crucial to Climate

 

OCEANS, ICE, FISH, & WATER

The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation
The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, Earth Institute at Columbia University.
"The Atlantic meridional overturning circulation, seen here in simplified form, brings warm water northward (red arrows) until it reaches the region around Greenland and northern Europe. Here, it sinks and travels southward (yellow arrows). Much of the water re-emerges in the Southern Ocean." Courtesy Francesco Muschitiello/Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

 

Speed of Ocean Circulation Crucial to Climate

Carbon lurking in deep ocean threw ancient climate switch, say researchers,
Earth Institute at Columbia University, April 8, 2019.

Main Points

Mid-Pleistocene Transition
Slowing ancient Ocean Circulation absorbing massive CO2 triggered Severe Cold

Big CO2 Effects
"...the study clearly demonstrates that the carbon missing from the air ended up in the ocean, and had a powerful effect on climate."

"..there's an intimate relationship between the amount of carbon stored in the ocean, and what the climate is doing."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Long Consequences of Our Own, Home Brewed, Extinction Event

 

ANTHROPOCENE

What's Left?
Extinction Survivor Species
Plankton
Extinction Survivor Species, Plankton, The University of Texas at Austin Jackson School of Geosciences/John Maisano.
An artist's interpretation of the sea floor after the mass extinction that wiped out the dinosaurs. The three hair-covered forms (left) represent species of plankton that survived. The geometric form (bottom left) is a species of algae. The University of Texas at Austin Jackson School of Geosciences/John Maisano.
 

Consequences of Our Own Extinction Event

Evolution imposes 'speed limit' on recovery after mass extinctions,
University of Texas at Austin, April 8, 2019.

MAIN POINTS

Return to Normalcy
Now, + 10 mil
“It takes at least 10 million years for life to fully recover after a mass extinction...”

Alex Wierbinski's picture

KID’S HEALTH & FITNESS: Legions of Digital Crackhead Fatties...

 

KID’S HEALTH & FITNESS

 

Engaging the Kid with Nature
Hiking the Kid. Photo Credit  Jyväskylän yliopisto, University of Jyväskylä.
I’d have that kid carrying a pack, reading the map, and consulting on route, breaks, and timing our pursuit of objectives, all while actively observing near & far… Photo Credit Jyväskylän yliopisto, University of Jyväskylä. Say that three times quickly...

 

Legions of Digital Crakhead Fatties...

Decline in physical activity often starts as early as age 7,
University of Jyväskylä - Jyväskylän yliopisto, April 8, 2019.

MAIN POINTS

Unfit for Purpose
Fit for Consumption, Rather than Nature
“Overall physical activity starts to decline already around the age of school entry. While the proportion of physically inactive individuals rises with age there still are groups of people who manage to increase their physical activity level in adulthood and old age.”

Alex Wierbinski's picture

A Closer Look: Korolev Crater & the Moons of Mars

 

UPDATED

Observe Two Solar Eclipses from the Surface of Mars

Phobos

Demos

 

ASTROPHYSICS, ASTRONOMY, & THE ATMOSPHERE of MARS


TWO FACES of MARS
 NASA, ESA, and STScI.

Hubble reveals Clear & Dusty Faces of Mars. Credits: NASA, ESA, and STScI

Mars Seen in Clear and Dusty Conditions,
NASA, July 26, 2018

 

Alex Wierbinski's picture

The Sun’s Raining Plasma: No Umbrella Protection Possible

 

ASTROPHYSICS

Flying Over the Surface of Our Sun
Watching Plasma Raining Off Small Magnetic Loops
Solar Plasma Raining Off Small Magnetic Loops, by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory/Emily Mason.
A previously overlooked magnetic structure is shown here in two wavelengths of extreme ultraviolet light. The coronal rain observed in these comparatively small magnetic loops suggests that the corona may be heated within a far more restricted region than previously expected. Credits: NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory/Emily Mason.  Big

 

The Sun’s Raining Plasma: No Umbrella Protection Possible

Unexpected Rain on Sun Links Two Solar Mysteries,
NASA, April 5, 2019.

MAIN POINTS

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Brunt Ice Shelf about to Calve

 

BRUNT ICE SHELF

The Edge of Cold
This is the the edge of the Brunt Ice Shelf, Jan de Rydt, Northumbria University.
This is the the edge of the Brunt Ice Shelf, Jan de Rydt, Northumbria University.

 

Natural Cycles of Antarctic Ice

Large Antarctic Ice Shelf, home to a UK research station, is about to break apart,
Northumbria University, April 5, 2019.

MAIN POINTS

Brunt Ice Shelf

“...150m to 250m thick…twice the size of New York City - is expected to break away from the Brunt Ice Shelf in as little as a few months, when two large cracks which have been growing over the past seven years meet.”

“...there is no indication from our research that this particular event is related to climate change.”

“...this type of event is historically consistent and part of the natural cycle and movement of the ice shelf.”

 

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Long 100 Year Gap of Major California Earthquakes

 

GEOLOGY

The Last Big One
San Francisco Earthquake of 1906
San Francisco Mission District burning in the aftermath of the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906. By Chadwick, H. D, US Gov War Department. Wiki.

San Francisco Mission District burning in the aftermath of the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906. By Chadwick, H. D, US Gov War Department. Wiki, Big Shot.

The last major quake in California was just over a hundred years ago, with the SF Quake measuring in at 7.9. Loma Prieta was 6.9, in 1989.

 

Long Gap of Major California Earthquakes

California's current earthquake hiatus is an unlikely pause,
Seismological Society of America, April 3, 2019.

MAIN POINTS

A Quiet 100 Years
“There have been no major ground rupturing earthquakes along California's three highest slip rate faults in the past 100 years.”

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Bees Winners in Mega Fire Forest Succession Debacle

 

 

BEE NEWS

 

Oregonian Bee
Triepeolus on Canada thistle, Jim Rivers, OSU.
Triepeolus on Canada thistle, Jim Rivers, OSU

 

Bees Winners in Mega Fire Forest Succession Debacle

Wild bees flock to forested areas affected by severe fire,
Oregon State University, April 3, 2019.

MAIN POINTS

“...wildfire severity is a strong predictor of bee diversity in mixed-conifer forest.”

“...trapping bees at 43 sites in forests burned by the 2013 Douglas Complex fire (info pdf) that scorched nearly 50,000 acres north of Grants Pass.”

“...collected bees with blue-vane traps, which attract the insects by reflecting ultraviolet light, and used satellite imagery to determine fire severity.”

Bees Love the Blues

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Computer Model: More CO2 than ever before in 3 million years

 

ANTHROPOCENE-CRASHING CLIMATE & ECOLOGY

Breaking Out of Nature’s Boxes:
The Past Shows Big Trouble Ahead

More CO2 than ever before in 3 million years, shows unprecedented computer simulation,
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), April 3, 2019.

MAIN POINTS

Ascertained
“...coevolution of climate, ice sheets, and carbon cycle over the past 3 million years.”

Big Human Changes
“CO2 greenhouse gas amounts in the atmosphere are likely higher today than ever before in the past 3 million years.”

It Matters
“...we can now show in computer simulations that changes in CO2 levels were a main driver of the ice ages, together with variations of how the Earth's orbits around the sun, the so-called Milankovitch cycles.”

“...a strong sensitivity of the Earth system to relatively small variations in atmospheric CO2. As fascinating as this is, it is also worrying.”

Beyond Nature’s Limits
"It seems we're now pushing our home planet beyond any climatic conditions experienced during the entire current geological period, the Quaternary."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

April 1, 2019 High Sierra Snow Pack Survey

 

WATER, ICE, OCEANS, GLACIERS & FISH

April 1, 2019 High Sierra Snowpack Survey

Snow Survey Boosts Runoff Predictions,
Cal Dept Water Resources, April 2, 2019.

MAIN POINTS

“The April results are a key indicator for the rest of the year’s water supply.”

“Sierra Nevada snowpack is 162 percent of average”

“California has experienced more than 30 atmospheric rivers since the start of the water year, with six in February alone...”

“Based on snowpack numbers, we have the potential for some minor flooding due to melting snow so we remind folks to always stay vigilant and aware.”

Too Much Water
“The state’s largest six reservoirs currently hold between 106 percent (Oroville) and 132 percent (Melones) of their historical averages for this date. Lake Shasta, California’s largest surface reservoir, is 109 percent of its historical average and sits at 89 percent of capacity.”

 

Alex Wierbinski's picture

The Farce Continues: India, China, & Brazil Exempt from, Environmental “Pacts,”

ENVIRONMENTAL DESTRUCTION, FORESTRY DIVISION

 

Forest Restoration Agreement Map
 A World of Opportunity (World Resource Institute, 2011).

Restoration opportunity map across 43 tropical and sub-tropical countries. Data source: Minnemeyer, S., et al. Bonn Challenge: A World of Opportunity (World Resource Institute, 2011). Big Map.

 

The Farce Continues: India, China, & Brazil Exempt from, “Pacts,”
&
Cheating Forest Pact all the Way to Environmental Destruction

 

Restore natural forests to meet global climate goals,
University College London, April 2, 2019.

MAIN POINTS

The Failing Farce
“International plans to restore forests to combat global warming are flawed and will fall far short of meeting 1.5C climate targets...”

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Into the Darkness: Massacre Rim Named Dark Sky Sanctuary

ASTRO-PHYSICS

Observing: Looking into the Void

Dark Night Skies
Night Sky Page Header, National Park Service
National Park Service, big image, from NPS, Night Skies

 

Let There Be Darkness

(Makes it Easier to See the Light...)

Public lands at Massacre Rim named International Dark Sky Sanctuary,
Dark Sky Organization, April 1, 2019.

MAIN POINTS

Where
“The 101,000-acre Massacre Rim WSA is 150 miles north of Reno and 160 miles east ofRedding, Calif. It is nearly 100 miles north of Gerlach Nev. featured in writer Oliver Roeder’s “The Darkest Town in America,” a chronicle of his search for the darkest place on the continent.”

Alex Wierbinski's picture

WEATHER WEST: Winter of 2018-2019. What Happened? What’s Next?

 

 

WEATHER

Winter of 2018-2019

What Happened? What’s Next?

Just how wet and cold was winter 2018-2019?
Weather West, March 24, 2019.

MAIN POINTS

Start
"...punctuated by California’s deadliest and most destructive wildfire in history during the uncharacteristic month of November."

Seasonal Precip
“Overall cumulative precipitation anomalies have not been particularly exceptional...”

Seasonal Temps
“...temperatures for the full period really haven’t been that cold–shaking out pretty close to average for most of the state. (Of course, that somewhat masks the very cold conditions that occurred during February).”

The Question
“So how, exactly, can California have received 156% of average snow water equivalent when precipitation over the same interval was only ~120% of average and temperatures were “near average?”

Alex Wierbinski's picture

End of Cold: Another Rapidly Disappearing Glacier, Länta Glacier, Swiss Alps

 

THE END of COLD

This is No April Fools Joke!
Another Rapidly Disappearing Glacier

NASA Image(s) of the Day

Lanta Glacier,  1989:
Small and Getting Smaller
 Small and Getting Smaller, NASA.
NASA Earth Observatory images by Joshua Stevens, using Landsat data from the U.S. Geological Survey, and topographic data from the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM). Photos courtesy of Archive VAW/ETH Zürich (Bernard Riedi AWN/GR). Story by Kathryn Hansen. Big Topo.

Lanta Glacier,  2017
Much Smaller
 Small and Getting Smaller, NASA.
Image Credit NASA. Big Topo.

 

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Nasty Asian longhorned Tick Rapidly Filling up Staten Island, NY, & East Coast

 

SKEETER & TICK NEWS

 Asian Longhorned Tick
Asian Longhorned Tick, photo credit Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The new species, identified last summer in Westchester and Staten island, is increasing and spreading quickly, photo credit Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Big Tick.

 

Nasty Tick Rapidly Filling up Staten Island, East Coast

New Yorkers brace for self-cloning Asian longhorned tick,
Columbia University, March 28, 2019.

MAIN POINTS

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