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

Quantum Crystals & Weyl Fermions: New Age of Quantum Crystal Electronics?

April 18, 2019
Berkeley develops Chiral Skyrmion Crystal


Original Research

New Age of Quantum Crystal Electronics?

Crystal Electronics Only in the Realm of Science Fiction, Until Now?
Credit Stargate One for Imagination, Princton for opening theoretical potential.
 Credit Stargate One.
Stargate One, Crystal Electronics only exist in Sci-Fi, Until Now? Now we have a theoretical path to Sci-Reality? Fair Use of Stargate One Image, to Illustrate research below,...


Electrons acting Like Magnetic Monopoles moving Like slowed down light through Crystals

Princeton scientists discover chiral crystals exhibiting exotic quantum effects,
Princeton University, March 20, 2019.


Alex Wierbinski's picture

Colorado River 2019 DCP Deal to Save Lake Mead Agreed

APRIL 18, 2019

1> IID sues MWD over DCP & Salton Sea

2> What Drought? Unlimited Water Use-Growth Expanding as Fast as Possible


Original Article


Lake Mead's Crashing Level
Lake Mead's Crashing Level, Central Arizona Water Conservation District, by Tom McCann

Notice a trend here? Death of a River, Central Arizona Water Conservation District, by Tom McCann, Big Chart.


Colorado River Deal to Save Lake Mead Agreed

Imperial, the Salton Sea, and the Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan,
Jfleck, March 24, 2019.


Lake Mead
Colorado System Basic Problem

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Land, Sea, & Now the Air: Microplastics are Everywhere!



Land, Sea, & Now the Air: Microplastics Everywhere

Alarming Study Finds That Wind Can Actually Carry Microplastics to Remote Places,
Science Alert, April 16, 2019.


Widespread Plastic
“...plastic litter is a key environmental challenge for this generation - detected in soil, rivers, oceans, and lakes...”

Microplastic Airborne Transport, Too?
"We suggest that microplastics can reach and affect remote, sparsely inhabited areas through atmospheric transport."

“Tucked in one of the most untouched areas of Europe, these samples show a similar level of atmospheric plastic pollution to megacities like Paris - at times, even more so.”

This, “...small pilot study now suggests that tiny fragments of this synthetic material are raining down in some of the most remote regions of the world.”

At their remote site, “...researchers have turned up an abundance of microplastics, each day picking up an average of 249 fragments, 73 films, and 44 fibres per square metre.”

How Widespread?
“...it could mean microplastics really are everywhere, even in the air we breathe.”

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GRACE Gravity Survey Measures the Masses of Climate Changes



The Satellite Twins GRACE
The satellite twins GRACE with the Earth's gravitational field, AIRBUS/GFZ.
The twin satellites GRACE revealing the Earth's gravitational field.


Gravity is our Friend. Until it Isn't

What Earth's Gravity Reveals about Climate Change,
GFZ GeoForschungsZentrum Potsdam, Helmholtz Centre, April 16, 2019.


“Gravity Recovery And Climate Experiment”

March 17, 2002

Surprise Duration
“...the mission lasted a good 15 years - more than three times as long as expected.”

“...recorded the Earth's gravitational field and its changes over time in more than 160 months.”

Ice Sheets and Glaciers

“...produced the first direct measurement of ice-mass loss from ice sheets and glaciers ever.”

Man-Made Ice Loss
“...between April 2002 and June 2017 Greenland lost about 260 billion tons of ice per year, Antarctica about 140 billion tons.”

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Massive Unexpected Emissions from Melting Permafrost




Massive Unexpected Emissions from Melting Permafrost

The trouble with thaw,
Harvard University, April 12, 2019.


Permafrost Melting
"Forests are falling; roads are collapsing; and, in an ironic twist, the warmer soil is releasing even more greenhouse gases, which could exacerbate the effects of climate change."

Measuring Outgassing
“...scientists rushed to monitor emissions of the two most influential anthropogenic (human-generated) greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide and methane).”

Except N2O
“...”the threat of the third largest (nitrous oxide) has largely been ignored.”

EPA on N2O
“...the agency rates these emissions as "negligible.”

“...nitrous oxide emissions from thawing Alaskan permafrost are about twelve times higher than previously assumed.”

12X Expected Levels
“...In just one month, the plane recorded enough nitrous oxide to fulfill the expected cap for an entire year.”

Alex Wierbinski's picture

The Big Volcano: The Permian Extinction



Siberian Traps Dooming Gorgonopsids
A volcanic eruption spells doom for a predatory gorgonopsid during the Permian Period, by Margaret Weiner/UC Creative Services.
A volcanic eruption spells doom for a predatory gorgonopsid during the Permian Period, by Margaret Weiner/UC Creative Services.


The Big Volcano: The Permian Extinction

New evidence suggests volcanoes caused biggest mass extinction ever,
University of Cincinnati, April 15, 2019.


“...five known mass extinctions over its (Earth’s) 4.5 billion years.”

252 mya
“The extinction 252 million years ago was so dramatic and widespread that scientists call it "the Great Dying."

Ancient Earth
“...killed off much of the terrestrial and marine life before the rise of dinosaurs. Some were prehistoric monsters in their own right, such as the ferocious gorgonopsids that looked like a cross between a sabre-toothed tiger and a Komodo dragon.”

Alex Wierbinski's picture

April 2019: A Disjointed, Mis-located El Nino




Disjointed, Mis-located El Nino

NASA sees El Niño conditions prevail in the Central Pacific Ocean,
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, April 11, 2019.


Not a Normal El Nino
“A Different Thing”
“This is what is known as El Niño “Modoki” (Japanese for “a similar but different thing”) or a Central Pacific El Niño, wherein enhanced SSTs and rainfall occur near the dateline and not near the coast of Peru.”


Bottom Line

That’s one weird, weak El Nino… but, along with the rest of our weather, we’re experiencing, “A Different Thing.” We are experiencing a Global, “Modoki.” Enjoy the ride...

On October 16, of 2018 I put the odds of an El Nino at half those called by NOAA, and I have been half-vindicated by this half-ass Modoki El Nino.


February 2019 NOAA: Weak El Nino Here? To Persist?


Alex Wierbinski's picture

Great Basin Flyway Drying Out



Great Basin Flyway Drying Out

Western Bird Species Are Struggling In Face Of Rapidly Changing Climate,
KPBS, April 8, 2019.


Changed and Changing More
“...climate change is putting stress on wetlands in the West's Great Basin and that is putting pressure on bird populations navigating the Pacific Flyway.”

“Snowmelt is arriving too early and not sticking around long enough...”

General Decline
“Eleven of those 14 birds that we looked at there were significant correlations between changes in climate and a decrease in population.”

“The basin includes most of Nevada and parts of Utah, Arizona, Oregon and the eastern edge of California.”

What’s Driving Climate Change, in the First Place?
Long Over-Development
"But that’s not to say that urbanization and other uses of water have not severely affected birds in the great basin and elsewhere.”


Related Research

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Normal Operations of an Antarctic Glacier Speeding Up



Glacial Mechanics of Pine Island Glacier
Pine Island Glacier, NASA Earth Observatory animation by Lauren Dauphin, using MODIS data from NASA EOSDIS/LANCE and GIBS/Worldview.
NASA Earth Observatory animation by Lauren Dauphin, using MODIS data from NASA EOSDIS/LANCE and GIBS/Worldview.


Normal Operations of an Antarctic Glacier Speeding Up

The Wide View of a Shrinking Glacier: Retreat at Pine Island,
NASA Earth Observatory, April 9, 2019.


Thinning & Retreating Faster
“...a shrinking outlet glacier is usually doing three things: thinning (mostly at the seaward edge), retreating, and accelerating. The acceleration stretches the glacier, causing the thinning and likely making the ice more prone to crevassing (cracking) “upstream.”

“...over the long term at Pine Island, you can see that the ice front has retreated inland, which means the calving rate has increased more than the glacier has accelerated. “This underlies our concern that retreating outlet glaciers can ‘shrink’ rapidly.”

Alex Wierbinski's picture

2019: Second Super Bloom Season in Three Years, Second This Year



2019 Antelope Valley Superbloom of wildflowers and poppies, NASA/Jim Ross.
View from a NASA aircraft, T-34, over the Superbloom of wildflowers and poppies from the Antelope Valley in Southern California, Poppy Reserve and solar panels are in the background. NASA Photo / Jim Ross. Big, full res version.


Second Super Bloom in Two Years

A Super View of a Super Bloom,
NASA Earth Observer, April 10, 2019.


Last View of 2019
NASA: Super Bloom Fires Up Anza-Borrego Desert State Park


Earlier this year


NPR: Wildflower Superboom of 2016



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Grim News about The Future of the Great Northern Hemisphere Heat Wave of 2018



Grim News about The Great Northern Hemisphere Heat Wave of 2018

Simultaneous Heatwaves Caused by Anthropogenic Climate Change,
ETH Zurich, April 10, 2019.


Great Northern Hemisphere Heat Wave of 2018

“Multiple places around the world experienced heat so severe that people died of heatstroke, power generation had to be curtailed, rails and roads started to melt, and forests went up in flames. What was truly sobering about this heatwave was that it affected not only one area, such as the Mediterranean region, but several across the temperate zones and the Arctic simultaneously.”

One Reason: Humans
“...the only explanation of why heat affected so many areas over several months is anthropogenic climate change.”

"Without the climate change that can be explained by human activity, we wouldn't have such a large area being simultaneously affected by heat as we did in 2018."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Two Fitness Research Summaries: Power and Protein


Style and Substance:

Two Fitness Research Summaries:
Food and Proper Forms for Superior Performance

Muscle Power & Protein Intake



Ability to lift weights quickly can mean a longer life,
European Society of Cardiology, April 12, 2019.


“Prolong your life by increasing your muscle power.”

“...people with more muscle power tend to live longer.”

The Key: Power
“Power depends on the ability to generate force and velocity, and to coordinate movement.”

Power Forms
"Power training is carried out by finding the best combination of speed and weight being lifted or moved. For strength training at the gym most people just think about the amount of weight being lifted and the number of repetitions without paying attention to the speed of execution. But for optimal power training results, you should go beyond typical strength training and add speed to your weight lifts."

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EXPLORE: Modern Alaskan History, & Fall into the Classic Accounts of Ice & Snow Exploration



Physical History of Alaska’s Gold Rush

Iditarod: one of the last Gold Rush towns,
AGU, April 9, 2019.


The article above concerns the historical, contemporary, and geological observations of Iditarod City by two geologists taking a fine backpacking ski trip through the interior of Alaska along a portion of the Iditarod Trail.
They've timed their trip after the Iditarod racers had completed the race, and all their supporters, press, and spectators had departed from the namesake ghost town of Iditarod, while the racers themselves had left behind a fine trail through the tundra snows these intreprid geologists could follow and explore on ski, hiking between remote Alaskan villages along the race’s route.

More from the Geologists

Geology of the Iditarod
Oldest rock in Alaska is near Iditarod

Now that we're up in the endless expanses of sub-arctic tundra...



Jack London
The Ultimate Yukon-Tundra Survival Stories

Adventures in the Alaskan Tundra

Alex Wierbinski's picture

HEALTH & FITNESS NEWS: Dangers of High Intensity Exercise



High Intensity Exercise

High-intensity interval training increases injuries, Rutgers study finds,
Rutgers University, April 9, 2019.


Interval Training
"These workouts, which combine aerobic exercising, weight lifting and calisthenics at maximum capacity, followed by periods of recovery, have been growing in popularity over the past decade, driven by the efficiency of the exercise to deliver fitness goals in less time."

"People who engage in high-intensity interval training are at greater risk for injury, especially in the knees and shoulders."

Effective but Dangerous
"...acknowledged that while this type of training is effective in improving cardiorespiratory fitness, boosting energy and promoting lean muscle mass and fat loss, it also increases injury risk."

Improper Prep
"...many athletes, especially amateurs, do not have the flexibility, mobility, core strength and muscles to perform these exercises."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Shadow of a Black Hole



First Light, from the Supermassive Black Hole in M87
First Image of a Black Hole, the supermassive at the center of M87, Thanks to Event Horizon Telescope collaboration et al.
Using the Event Horizon Telescope, scientists obtained an image of the black hole at the center of galaxy M87, outlined by emission from hot gas swirling around it under the influence of strong gravity near its event horizon. Much credit to Event Horizon Telescope collaboration et al. Big Image.

A Hole in Spacetime
Now Imagine this in all four dimensions...

Event Horizon, JohnsonMartin, pixabay.
JohnsonMartin, pixabay

Shadow of a Black Hole

Black Hole Image Makes History; NASA Telescopes Coordinated Observations,
NASA, April 10, 2019.


Alex Wierbinski's picture

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



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.


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



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

Alex Wierbinski's picture

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


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.


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."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

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.


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

"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."

Alex Wierbinski's picture

A Glacial Scorecard Since 1961



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.


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,"”

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