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


Alex Wierbinski's picture

By Alex Wierbinski - Posted on 12 November 2010

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

 

Memorial Day 2017 High Sierra Safety Warning

 

April 1, 2017 BACKPACKER ALERT:
STILL CURRENT through JULY

 

Missing People in Yosemite

 

 

Earlier Alerts 
March 22, 2017 Alert

All Backpacker Alerts

 

 

APRIL-JUNE
2017
SPRING THREATS ON FULL DISPLAY

June, 2017

 

 

 LATEST NEWS BELOW

 

 2017
AN EPIC SNOW YEAR

April 1, 2017
BACKPACKER ALERT
through
CURRENT DATE in JUNE, 2017

ONGOING
BACKPACKER ALERT:

The most important topic of this date is the massive snowpack on the Sierra Crest and the extreme danger it poses to PCT hikers. The dangers of High Altitude Snow Travel will soon be supplemented by very dangerous fording conditions when this snowpack begins to thaw.

These conditions require skills, gear, and fitness to assure any level of safe travel as of this date. Undercutting and safety along the banks of creeks emerging from snow cover is currently increasing, as will the difficulty of travel conditions increase as the pack softens under the increasing heat of Spring.

Extremely difficult travel conditions will soon shift from hard snow that defies traction to wet snow offering no foundation. We will shortly transition from barely clinging to the mountain-side to sinking up to our waists with each step. As Spring progresses cold mornings will bring the former condition, warm afternoons the latter.

The same temp shift driving the changing character of the snow pack will soon drive even the highest river fords to levels unsafe for fording, and make the major rivers raging torrents of destruction. These temp shifts change the character of the Sierra.

The snowpack itself will become sopping wet, saturating anything and anyone in contact with it. These are the times that hikers without sufficient insulation can find cold combining with exhaustion to degrade decision making as well as technical execution & style to create very dangerous situations. I see Wet, cold, and tired PCT hikers surrounded by a sea of deep, wet, energy-sucking snow divided by an endless series of raging torrents of typically tiny High Sierra creeks surging like rivers, each supercharged by Spring's mighty flows.

The trails will be flowing like creeks, when we get down to them. And they will lead to the mighty rivers, which will be downright scary, once this massive snow pack begins to melt in earnest.

 

 

MOUNTAIN SAFETY
TOPICS
INTRODUCTION
Welcome to the introduction to the High Sierra Backpacking and Hiking Safety Forum. As the website is currently under construction, this page is currently a catch-all safety page. As construction of the trail guide content eventually winds down, I will build the news & topics their own safety pages.

Mountain Safety
NEWS
Below

 

Mountain Safety
TOPICS:

Things to Think About

 

All High Sierra Park & Forest
Fires, Restrictions, & Alerts

 

Greatest Threats

Fording and Two Fording-Cold Water articles below.

Lightening

Lightening Forecast Probabilities

Internal Threats

Navigation

Missing People in Yosemite

Snags Safety Page

Snags, accident below, and here

Avalanches, here, and here

Altitude Safety Page

Fire-Smoke, and here

Personal Illness

Personal Stupidity. and esp this.

Green Water Page,

Green Water Article, below

 

 

Animal Kingdom

Bears

Mosquitoes

Small Mammals

Plague

Hantavirus

Marmots

 

 

Disclaimer
Backpacking is Dangerous

 

 YOU CAN DIE

 

 

FIRST
Be "Threat Aware." Observe any situation you enter, and think, "what can hurt or kill me here?"

Slippery snow next to a fall? Next to a raging river? Is there water? Are there standing dead trees that can fall on my head or tent, or rocks off the surrounding cliffs? A patch of steep snow across the trail? Are those beautiful clouds carrying electrical death? Where is it?

There is danger, the only question is where. You are the first point of danger if you are unaware that danger is always present, and are not staying alert to its potential.

 

 

Recent
HIGH SIERRA
MOUNTAIN SAFETY 

NEWS
&
INCIDENTS

 

Also See
Mountain Safety
TOPICS

  

Weather Warnings & Advisories 

Eastern Sierra Avalanche Center

Also see
Alerts-Hazards Page 

Safety Topics

Top

 

WINTER 2019

DECEMBER STATUS REPORT

Full Winter Gear, Skills, & Fitness REQUIRED for High Sierra Travel

Fall to Winter Gear, October 31, (calendar).

Summer to Fall Gear, October 9, (calendar), & Trail News

 

 

FALL 2018

 November 17

WINTER MOUNTAIN SAFETY

Tahoe Winter Mountain Safety Event

Beacons and Beers offers backcountry advice ahead of ski season

 

 

 

October 26

MOUNTAIN SAFETY

SEKI INCIDENTS: What Not to Do...

October Mountain Safety Incidents in Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks

 

 

 

October 25

 

MOUNTAIN SAFETY

Fall Fatalities

Two Visitors Fall from Taft Point in Yosemite National Park

 

 

 

 October 14

 

 HIGH SIERRA MOUNTAIN SAFETY

NOTE

SEASONAL SAFETY

Temp Drop in 2018

October 9....

Temp Drop in 2017: Sept 15

2016: Oct 31

2015: Oct 14

2014: Oct 2

WHAT?
"Temp Drop" day is point Fall gear elements must be included in pack, after which point significant chances of Fall-Winter weather "incidents" exist which must be accounted for with the proper levels of gear, skills, & fitness.

 

SAFETY NEWS
Updated 

 Standing Hazards, Diminishing during Late September, 2018

HEAT-FIRE-SMOKE

GREEN WATER

 

 

THE FALL GEAR

 

MEMBER FAVS

 

 

 

 October 2

 

Thunderbolt Peak Rescue,
Complex, difficult rescue.
Inyo SAR, rescue 8-24, posted 9-3

On the Trail Guide
Detailed Map: Bishop Pass, JMT, Pallisades & Thunderbolt Peak

 

 

 

September 21st

 

HEALTH & FITNESS

New Tick Safety Strategies Required for Euro Lyme

Study Indicates Rapid Lyme Transmission by Euro Ticks

 

 

 

September 17

 

MOUNTAIN SAFETY-WILDLIFE

Mountain Lion Fatality, Oregon, Near Mount Hood

Officials Hunting Killer Cougar

 

 

 

September 6

 

HIGH SIERRA MOUNTAIN SAFETY

Mono Sheriff SAR Broken Ankle Rescue

Third Pillar of Mt. Dana

 

 

MOUNTAIN SAFETY

Tourist Death off Nevada Falls

Yosemite’s Deadly Distraction

 

 

 

September 5

 

MOUNTAIN SAFETY

Tropical Downpour Contributes to Fatality

NWS Issues Flash Flood Warning for Donnell Fire Area

 

 

 

August 29

 

MOUNTAIN SAFETY

Have Fun, Support Important SAR

Go Play Golf, or Just Send them a Check

MONO SAR

Mono SAR Golf Funraiser,
Playing September 16 at Mammoth Lakes.
Facecrook Post, August 22, 2018.

Mono SAR Website

Recent Rescues

Mt Whitney Rescue

Mt Conness Rescue

 

 

 

August 23

 

MOUNTAIN SAFETY

Inyo SAR Hiker Fall Fatality

Middle Palisade Recovery

 

 

 

August 21

 

MOUNTAIN SAFETY

Smoke and Fire: Two Reports

1> 1.9 million acres burned or burning, Smoke Covers Western US

2> HOT, HOT, HOT: Fire Season Just Beginning in California

 

 

 

Updated August 20

 

Initial Report August 14

MOUNTAIN SAFETY

Remains of Missing Hiker Found in North Yosemite

 

 

 

August 17

 

Widespread Smokey Skies from Western Fires

A Serious Mountain Safety Concern

NASA Observes Smokey Skies Over North America

 

 

 

August 14

 

Have You Seen This Hiker?

Scott

Have you seen Scott in the North Yosemite Backcountry?
Photo: National Park Service

North Yosemite Backcountry
Twin Lakes (?) to Bensen Lake Loop?

Between July 25 and August 5

All hikers in the North Yosemite Backcountry (along, or who crossed the route of the Bensen Lake Loop) between July 25 and August 5 are asked to contact the National Park Service Investigative Services Branch at 888/653-0009 or online, if you've seen Scott or not.

Scott's route looks like it includes the segment of the PCT-TYT from Kerrick Canyon to Matterhorn Canyon.

Ascertaining where he was not seen during these dates is almost as important as where he was seen.

 

The Map: Region Backpacking Map

The Terrain: Bensen-Twin Lakes Trip Report

 

More Information: Lost in Yosemite

 

 

 

SOLO CLIMBER RESCUE

Under Mammoth Crest, Duck Lake

Agencies assist injured hiker near Duck Lake,
Sierra Wave, August 12, 2018.

Detailed Hiking Map: Reds Meadow to VVR

 

 

 

August 11

 

From Kaweah Commonwealth,
August 6, 2018.

SEKI INCIDENTS

July 28— Rangers contacted two visitors at Roads End who had left food and backpacks out and unattended on the Kanawyer Loop Trail near Bubbs Creek junction. Witnesses reported a bear eating food out of the visitor’s backpack while the visitors were away from the packs. The visitors were cited for abandoned property.

July 23— Rangers assisted the Madera County Sheriff’s Office in their search for a 70-year-old German man hiking the PCT. The investigation led them to believe the man was well north of Kings Canyon. Kings Canyon rangers are no longer involved in the search, but the case is still open with Madera County at the time of this writing.

The Germ was Spotted by hiker on July 17 descending to Bensen Lake on PCT North of Tuolumne Meadows.

 

 

 

August 5

 

MOUNTAIN SAFETY

Donnell Fire Threatening Mokelumne & Immigrant Wilderness

Evacuations along Highway 108 Clarks Fork to Kennedy Meadows

 

 

 

August 1

 

Russian Climber Rescued off Latok-1

Direct to Article
‘At night I dreamt I was back home,’ says Russian climber rescued at 6300m after 6 days without food,
RT, August 1, 2018.

 

Latok Massif
Wiki

 

More About Latok-1

Donini, Lowe, Kennedy, Lowe, Latok 1 Trip Report,
Supertopo, Oct 25, 2010.

 

 

MOUNTAIN SAFETY

2018, Injured Climber on Mount Conness Located, Freed, & Evacuated

Many come to aid of climber trapped between granite slabs

 

 

 

 July 10

 

FIRE NEWS

Whitney Portal Evacuated and Closed

Georges Fire: All JMT-Backpacker info from Inyo National Forest

 

 

 

July 7

Summer of 2018

HEALTH & FITNESS

Mountain Safety
GREEN WATER WARNING

THIS WHOLE SUMMER

HAZARD-DANGER WARNING

High Temps combined with a thin snow pack and a weak Spring Thaw have left lakes and reservoirs with low, stagnant, and warm waters conducive to the very early-season growth of vast amounts of toxic blue-green algae we're seeing in the Sierra, as well as across the whole country this year.

Blue-Green Algae News

Blue-Green Algae Safety and Identification Information

 

ADDITIONAL
HIGH SIERRA HAZARDS

HEAT-FIRE-SMOKE
Note the Heat, Fire and Smoke Warnings
on the
Backpacker's Calendar for July ,
in addition to the Green Water Hazard Warning.

 

HIGH SIERRA FIRE & SMOKE INFORMATION

 

 

 

July 6

 

BEAR NEWS

Aggressive Bear not Tolerated in Sequoia

Bear euthanized in Sequoia

 

 

 

July 2

 

BEAR NEWS

Problem Bear Surprised by Agro Human

Man fights off bear in Fallen Leaf Lake cabin

 

 

 

June 23

 

HIGH SIERRA MOUNTAIN SAFETY

MOUNTAIN MORON SAFETY

Emergency Satellite Transponder Jackass Rescue?

 

 

 

June 28

GEOLOGY NEWS

Yosemite Rockfalls

Rapid Safety Analysis of Potential Rockfall Consequences

 

 

 

June 18

 

HEALTH & FITNESS

East Sierra Warning

Hantavirus

 

 

MOUNTAIN SAFETY

Lost and Found in Desolation

Day Hiker Lost, Spends Night in Desolation

 

 

MOUNTAIN SAFETY

Tourist Drowning

Tragic Accident on Middle Kaweah

 

 

 

June 13

 

MOUNTAIN SAFETY

Serious Accident on Mount Whitney

Pro Rescue brings Two out by Helo, One able to Self-Rescue

 

 

 

June 11

 

MOUNTAIN SAFETY

Drowning in Kaweah River

A Sign of Dangerous Fording Conditions

 

 

 

June 2

 

MOUNTAIN SAFETY

Two Climbers Die on El Capitan

 

 

 

May 31

 

HEALTH & FITNESS

Watch Out for the Green Water

Salem drinking water contaminated, children advised to avoid tap water

 

 

 

May 24

 

MOUNTAIN SAFETY

Hiker Falls to Death off Half Dome Cables

 

 

 

May 22

 

MOUNTAIN SAFETY

Mountain Lion Attack

Just a Bit West of PCT at Snoqualmie

 

 

SNOW & TRAIL CONDITIONS

Mammoth to Stay Open to Mid-June

What does this Mean for Trail Opening?

 

 

 

 May 17

SPRING 2018 HAZARD STATUS

Bottom Line

Spring Temp & Snow conditions are operative in the Sierra Nevada now, with increased fording danger. A heat wave will increase the fording danger. Spring Snow Gear is still required for safe mountain travel in the Sierra.

2018 High Sierra Calendar, May

Summer-PCT lightweight gear WILL NOT CUT IT.

Don't even try...

 

April 25:
Winter to Spring Gear Transition

 

 

 

Two Die in Sequoia

Hiker & Climber

Direct to Article

Hiker, mountain climber fall to their deaths in Sequoia National Park incidents,
Sierra Star, May 15, 2018.

"Hikers and climbers are cautioned that winter conditions still exist at higher elevations, and extreme caution is necessary."

 

 

Skier Lost March 14 Found

Direct to Article

Remains of missing skier found at Bear Valley,
Truckee Sun, May 16, 2018.

 

 

 

April 19

 

TUOLUMNE MEADOWS CONDITIONS

Tuolumne Meadows Winter Rangers

Bears Active, Fords Dangerous

Update for April 18, 2018 (last update for the season)

 

 

 

 March 29

 

Squaw Valley: Caught in a Massive Avalanche

And Surviving...

 

 

 

March 5

 

Mammoth Mountain Avalanche

Major Avalanche, Major Rescue Effort

 

 

Snowboard Powder Suffocation

Deep Powder Danger, Snowboarder Dies on China Peak

 

 

 

February 25

LOST BACKPACKER FOUND

Missing Hiker Found Safe In Yosemite National Park,
Yosemite, NPS, February 23, 2018.

 

 

 

Feburary 24, 2018

BACKPACKER ALERT:
Feburary 2018: Record Low Temperatures Deep Freeze Sierra Nevada Crest

 

 

January 8, 2018

ALERT

Missing in Yosemite

 

 

 

 December 11

Migrating Mule Deer Disaster

Frozen Approaches to Bishop and Shepherd passes Kill 100+

 

 

 

November 28

Missing in Yosemite

Direct to NPS Yosemite
Missing in Yosemite: Gerardo Cruz Hernandez, Glacier Point Road,
NPS Yosemite, November 22, 2017.

UPDATE
Found,
Direct to Article
Searchers find body of Santa Barbara man who went missing in Yosemite,
Union Democrat, November 29, 2017.

 

 

 

November 3

BACKPACKER ALERT

 

Moderate/weak-strength storm bringing up to 2 feet of snow to the Sierra Crest
over this upcoming weekend. 

Winter Gear required.

Woo-Hooo!

Winter Storm Watch In Effect Above 7,000 Feet,
Sierra News Online, November 2, 2017.


NWS Watch, Warning, Advisory Display,
with links to local NWS Office Hazard Warnings.

 

Weather Tools

All Rain-Snow-Precip Tools

All Radar

All High Sierra Forecast Zones

Graphical Interface Forecast Display

 

Everything
The High Sierra Outdoors-folks Weather Page

 

Let's
Gear-Up for Winter

 On September 15 the temps and conditions shifted enough to require shifting our gear setup from Summer to Fall gear kits.

FALL GEAR CHANGE UPON US,
Sept 15, 2017.

Now we've hit the Winter Line, and we've got to deploy the necessary elements of our Winter Gear Kit. Not the whole thing, but some serious Winter gear needs to come out now.

 

Four-Season High Sierra Gear List 

 

This storm should finally end the Fire Season, too...

 

 

 

October 31

Halloween

THE 2017 QUESTION
When is the First Real Storm going to hit the Sierra Nevada?

When will two feet fall?

First Significant N Sierra Rains-Snows-Precip Predicted 
6pm Thursday running through 6pm Monday

Run the Animation

All Rain & Snow Tools

 

All Forecasts

 

 

Article
California’s first big winter snow storm headed for Sierra Nevada,
Mercury News, October 31, 2017. 

 

 

 

October 28

Wild Animal Bites

Surgeons Gather Diverse, Obscure Resources-Information

 

 

 

October 25

Lost Hikers Rescued

Mount Tallac Helli-evac

 

 

 

October 23

Yosemite Classic Climbing

New Speed Record up the Nose

 

 

Firefighter Tribute

Hard time for Forests are Deadly Times for Firefighters

 

 

 

October 20

Late October Mountain Safety Reports
2017 Fatality Report

 

SEKI

 

 

Aftermath of Harsh Winter, Spring Thaw, & Wet Early Summer

Human Costs

Lost Yosemite Hiker from May Identified

 July Crash Victims recovered from Kings River

 

 

 

 October 17

TRAVEL-TEMP-STORM HAZARDS
First "Sizable" Snow Storm?

No, but biggest so far. Rain & Snow Forecast Thurs Night through Daylight Hours of Friday

 

 

 

October 16

CONTINUING STORY
Massive Napa-Santa Rosa Fire

Overnight (9th) 30 mph standing winds, with gusts to 50, blows firestorms into being

 

FIRE & SMOKE PROJECTIONS
BlueSky Daily Runs

CA/NV 2-km 72 hr forecast

UPDATE IT
All BlueSky Daily Runs

 

Pick Region & Time, Click, "MAP."

 

 

Health & Fitness

SAR WARS?

Tahoe MedWAR Challenge
Got to Get the SAR Folks into this...

 

 

top
topics
latest

 

 

October 5

EVER-PRESENT FALL HAZARD

Unexpected Snow

Sonora Pass & Tioga Passes Closed Tuesday

It's a Sierra surprise; Second Closure in 2017 of Sonora Pass

 

 

 

September 27

Massive Rockfall off El Capitan

Waterfall Route

 

 

 

September 25

MOUNTAIN SAFETY

Incidents at Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks,
Kaweah Commonwealth, September 22, 2017.

 

 

 

September 15

CHANGE IN HIGH SIERRA HAZARD STATUS
FALL GEAR CHANGE UPON US

Snow possible next week in higher elevations,
Lake Tahoe News, September 15, 2017.

 

The Fall Gear Change is Upon Us.

 

 top
topics
latest

 

 

September 14

FIRST SNOW

Lake Tahoe sees first snowfall of 2017-18 season,
Sierra Sun, September 14, 2017.

 

 

 

 

September 11

Difficult, Delayed Water Recovery

CRASH VICTIMS RECOVERED FROM KINGS RIVER,
Kaweah Commonwealth, September 9, 2017.

(See previous entry below)

 

 

 

September 8

Victim Recovery & Identity

 

VICTIMS OF BACKCOUNTRY FATALITIES IDENTIFIED,
Kaweah Commonwealth, September 5, 2017.

Tragic Tourist Auto Accidents

Golden Staircase Fatality

 

 

West Nile in Bishop

Man recovers from West Nile virus illness,
Sierra Wave, September 7, 2017,

 

Skeeter News

Health & Fitness News

 

 

 

September 7

Life on the Trail

Mom, dad and 1-year-old daughter complete Tahoe Rim Trail in 17 days,
Tahoe Daily Tribune,September 6, 2017.

 

 

Death on the Trail

 Canadian hiker found dead near Tahoe Rim Trail,
Sierra Sun, September 6, 2017.

 

 

SEKI

Incidents at Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks,
Kaweah Commonwealth, September 1, 2017.

Broken leg assisted rescue

Heil-evac from Crabtree Ranger Station

Stroke heli evac

Hamstring heli-evac from McClure Meadow

Climber above Bishop Pass: complex rescue

 

 top
topics
latest

 

August 31

Current Backpacker Hazards, Warnings, & Alert(s)

Labor Day 2017 Heat, Fire, & Smoke HAZARDS 

 

Labor Day 2017, TRAIL NEWS

 

 

 

Hantavirus in Bodie

Ghost town is ‘ticking time bomb’ for state park workers, hantavirus survivor’s dad warns,
Sac Bee, August 28, 2017.

Last Hantavirus Report, July 26

Yosemite Outbreak

 

Mono Warning, April 2017

 

 

 

August 29

Climbing Fatality
Thunderbolt Peak

Body of missing climber found,
The Sheet, August 26, 2017. PDF, P. 6.

 

 

 

August 28

Mountain Safety

INCIDENTS AT SEQUOIA AND KINGS CANYON NATIONAL PARKS,
Kaweah Commonwealth, August 27, 2017.

hiker fatality on JMT

lost hiker

lost hiker

climber fatailty

unfit Whitney hiker rescue

injured hiker; stock evacuation

Consider all the scenarios above. If not you, you will encounter these types of situations.

 

 

 

August 25

Plague Warning
Martis Creek Lake Alpine Meadows Campground

Truckee campground issues plague warning,
Lake Tahoe News, August 24, 2017.

LTBMU Plague Warning

Here’s the typical plague warning sign

 

 

Yesterday's Lightening Strike
More Information

Hiker survives lightning strike near Donner Summit,
Tahoe Daily Tribune, August 24, 2017.

Original report below

Lightening information

 

 

Long Wait

Body of former Heavenly Mountain Resort ski patroller recovered in Mount Rainier National Park,
Sierra Sun, August 22, 2017.

Rainier Lost Hiker
see below, recovered August 22, lost in early July

In the sad situation of the two families awaiting the recovery of their relatives bodies from the Kings River, I can only offer the example above of how the power of Nature, not the will of man, ultimately determines all of our final dispositions.

 

 

top
topics
latest 

 

August 24

Lightening Strike

Man Survives Getting Struck By Lightning Near Donner Summit,
CBS Sacto, August 23, 2017.

Lightening Safety, Weather Page

Lightening Safety Info, below

Lightening Probabilities

 

 

 

August 23

Backpacking Food Recall

OFD Food, LLC. Recalls Beef Products Due to Possible Foreign Matter Contamination
White Blaze, June 17, 2017. 

 

OFD is Oregon Freeze Dried, a company I have relied on for many years!

 

 

JMT FATALITY & WHITNEY RESCUE
Golden Staircase

Four incidents recently at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks,
Sierra Wave, August 22, 2017.

Golden Staircase on the Hiking Map

Mount Whitney on the Hiking Map 

 

  

Two Auto Accidents-Same Place
Sad-Strange Story

Fording Death

2 Climbing Deaths

DEATH IN THE SIERRA,
Kaweah Commonwealth, August 18, 2017.

earlier auto report

 

 

Powerful Sierra Weather
Always Possible

Firefighters chasing multiple lightning strikes,
The Record Courier, August 22, 2017. 

 

 

 

August 21

Foothills

 

Rabid skunk bites man in Shingle Springs,
Mountain Democrat, August 21, 2017.

 

 

 

August 14

Climbing Fatality

Climber’s body recovered near Palisade Basin,
Sierra Wave, August 13, 2017.

 

 

LOST
Crystal Cave Road and the Generals Highway

Officials seeking information on missing hikers,
Sierra Wave, August 11, 2017.

 

 

 

West Nile
West Nile on the East Flank
Good Information for Hikers

Fifth positive sample found in Inyo for West Nile Virus,
Sierra Wave, August 11, 2017.

 

Mosquito News

 

 

 

August 11

Dangerous Mountains
Deadly River
Won't Give up its Victims

Thai families, media fume over delays recovering students’ bodies from Kings River,
Fresno Bee, August 10, 2017.

Tahoe to Whitney is designed to inform you about the potentially deadly beauties of untrammeled Nature in the High Sierra, and draw you into them step by step as your observation, awareness, and skill to negociate these grand forces of Nature increases.  To draw you out, over the lines defining the edges of physical and psychological "civilization," to experience the uncreated worlds of Nature that still exist within and around you.

The accident above shows that this line exists, if you are aware of it or not. Crossing it puts you beyond the reach of the dominance of Man. This "line" sometimes butts right up against our life in civilization. We must become especially aware of our circumstances during those moments.

 

top
topics
latest 

 

 

August 10

Explosives Handling

Officials fine Squaw Valley over death of ski patroller,
Tahoe Daily Tribune, August 10, 2017.

 

 

 

August 7 

HANTAVIRUS THREAT

Bodie
HANTAVIRUS STRIKES AGAIN,
The Sheet, August 5, 2017, p.1, PDF.

Hauntavirus

 

 

SKEETER THREAT

More mosquito samples test positive for West Nile Virus,
Sierra Wave, August 4, 2017.

The Sheet West Nile Story, PDF, p.6

Skeeter News

Skeeter Avoidance Practices

 

 

 

August 5

High Sierra Dangers

Sadness abounds with the news of more deaths on the Pacific Crest Trail,
PCTA, August 1, 2017.

See individual recovery reports below.

 

 

Check Fire & Smoke Conditions before Backpacking the Sierra

CalFire

Inciweb Fed

Smoke

 

Longest Backpacker Alert in History

 

 

 

August 2

It's News if the Times Prints It.

A wet winter makes some California hikes more treacherous than usual,
Lost Angeles Times, August 2, 2017.

These safety issues and trail conditions were "the story" before all these people departed, before all these people got lost, injured, and killed by the crazy conditions in the Sierra Nevada this year.

The Times is "on it," after the threat has mostly passed.

I do not like the "LA-LA Land Times." California could do better without the 20 million idiots in Lost Angeles, and their corrupted media... much better.

Allowing, not stopping, LA from forming into a vast mega-city was a very big mistake.

Tahoe to Whitney
Initial
Backpacker Alert:
Tracking Conditions on the PCT since anticipating this situation last Winter.

 

 

 

Fires Until November?

Fire season could stay dangerous into November, experts predict,
Press-Enterprise, August 1, 2017.

 

 

 

Beware the Rattlers!

Rattlesnakes hunkering down in the heat,
Record Searchlight, August 1, 2017.

There are lots of rattlers in the Sierra Foothills.
 

 

top
topics
latest

 

 

 

August 1, 2017

A Most Dangerous Year

Pacific Crest Trail hiker’s body found in Yosemite National Park,
Tahoe Daily Tribune, July 31, 2017.

 

 

 Tahoe Dangerous

Body recovered from Lake Tahoe believed to be University of Nevada, Reno football player Marc Ma
Tahoe Daily Tribune, August 1, 2017.

Lake Tahoe can easily take us, but does not as easily give up its dead. Ma was lost June 10, 2016.


Tahoe Dangers

Twain on Tahoe


Legends & Mysteries of Tahoe

The Biology of Drowning, PDF.

 

 

July 31

 

PCT FATALITY

MISSING PCT HIKER'S BODY FOUND IN KINGS RIVER,
Kaweah Commonwealth, July 29, 2017.


The article seems to be mistaking Woods Creek for the South Kings. Woods Creek merges into the South Kings a few miles and 1400 feet of elevation below where the route of the JMT-PCT Crosses Woods Creek, at the damaged "Woods Crossing" suspension bridge.

That bridge is at 8492 feet while the junction of Woods Creek and the South Kings are at around 7000 feet of elevation.

If your information about the hiker moving from Rae Lakes to their 10,000 foot body recovery point are correct, the PCT hikers appear to be attempting to cross much further up Woods Creek, where flows would be lower.

So, the accident occured on Woods Creek, not the South Kings, and it occured far above the standard fording point at Woods Crossing.

 

CORRECTION
7-1-17 
Sarah Elliott of the Kaweah Commonwealth was kind enough to correct my
mis-interpretations:
"The South Fork-Kings River crossing where the hiker drowned is between Mather and Pinchot passes..."

 

NOTE 
 I was assuming that the accident happened at, or avoiding, the damaged Woods Crossing suspension bridge. I was wrong on both counts. First, the Woods Crossing damage was apparently misreported (below), so the accident happened North of Pinchot Pass, rather than South of it, which is what I had pictured in my mind's eye.


Regional Map 
Bishop Pass to Whitney Portal

Notice
Woods Crossing Suspension Bridge Out

Woods Crossing 
8492 feet of elevation

10,000 feet of elevation on the JMT along Woods Creek, the body recovery point, is located just below Twin Lakes on the map below.

CORRECTION:

Corrected accident site is at the ford of the South Kings North of Lake Marjorie, which is North of Pinchot Pass, as seen on the map below.

 

Detailed Map
Pinchot Pass to Vidette Meadow

 

 

 

July 26

Hantavirus Warning

Officials urge caution concerning hantavirus,
Sierra Wave, July 26, 2017.

Mountain Safety Hauntavirus Information

Yosemite Outbreak

Mono Warning, April 2017

 

 

 

Big Safety Trends?

Are avalanche deaths and atmospheric rivers linked? Researchers think so,
Sierra Sun, July 26, 2017.

 

 

 

July 25

State of Decomposition

 Human Bones Found Near Mammoth Pool,
Sierra News Online, July 24, 2017.

 

 

top
topics
latest

 

 

July 24

Search. Rescue. Repeat.

INCIDENTS AT SEQUOIA AND KINGS CANYON NATIONAL PARKS,
Kaweah Commonwealth, July 21, 2017.

 

 

BOB WOODIE LEAVES HIGH SIERRA LEGACY,
Kaweah Commonwealth, July 21, 2017.

earlier report

 

 

 

July 21

GOOD NEWS

Update: Missing hiker found ‘in good health and good spirits’
Sierra Wave, July 20, 2017.

Lost report, below

 

 

 

July 20

FULL SMOKE-FIRE ALERT
Continues

See
July 20 Trail News

 

 

Lost Hiker
Green Lake trailhead out of South Lake

Active search under way for missing hiker,
Sierra Wave, July 20, 2017.

 

 

Three High Altitude Rescues

Busy weekend for Inyo County Search and Rescue,
Sierra Wave, July 20, 2017.

 

 

 

July 19

FULL SMOKE-FIRE ALERT

See trail news, July 19

All backpackers and visitors to the Sierra should check smoke and fire conditions. Smoke can be a real problem, even with no fire in near proximity to your area.

Fire & Smoke

CalFire

Inciweb Fed

 


Smoke

 

 

Report from Sequoia Kings Canyon

INCIDENTS AT SEQUOIA-KINGS CANYON NATIONAL PARKS,
Kaweah Commonwealth, July 18, 2017.

 

 

Lost Hikers Remembered

Friends, family remembering Heavenly Mountain Resort ski patroller missing in Mount Rainier National Park,
Tahoe Daily Tribune, July 19, 2017.

Original report

 

 

HIKER'S BODY FOUND,
Kaweah Commonwealth, July 18, 2017.

Original report

 

 

top
topics
latest 

 

 

July 18

FIRE & SMOKE HAZARDS

Smoke from Mariposa County fire a concern in Tuolumne County, surrounding area,
Union Democrat, July 17, 2017.

Fire & Smoke Information

 

 

MOUNTAIN SAFETY
2 Deaths, 1 Injury

Colorado’s fourth 14er death of 2017 renews drive to educate hikers of risks,
Sierra Sun, July 18, 2017.

 

 

Heavenly ski patroller dies on Mt. Rainier,
Lake Tahoe News, July 17, 2017.

 

 

LOOKS CAN BE DECEIVING,
Close calls and injuries for backcountry skiers are reminders of danger,
The Sheet, July 15, 2017, PDF, P.1.

 

 

 

July 11

Water Rescue

 

Floaters and a dog are safe after South Fork Tuolumne River search,
Union Democrat, July 10, 2017.

 

 

 

July 10

Lost Hiker from October 2016

 Body of missing hiker located near Bishop Pass,
Sierra Wave, July 9, 2017.

 

 

 

July 7

INTENSIFYING HAZARDS

Heat Warnings

Snow Travel Warnings

Fording Danger Warnings

Lightening Forecast Probabilities

 

See
July 7 High Sierra Trail Conditions News 

 

 

 

July 6

FORTUITOUS RESCUE

Backcountry patrol leads to medical rescue in Placer,
Lake Tahoe News, July 5, 2017.

 

 

 

July 5

Weather Hazard

 Red Flag Warning For Possible Dry Thunderstorms,
Sierra News, July 5, 2017,

Lightening Forecast Probabilities

 

 

Water Hazard

Kayaker pulled from Upper Truckee River,
Mountain Democrat, June 30, 2017.

Upper Truckee is one of our favorite trailheads.

Hiking Map
Meiss Country Roadless Area

 

 

  

July 3

RESCUES

 HIGH WATERS CONTINUES TO CREATE OBSTACLES FOR HIKERS,
Kaweah Commonwealth, July 3, 2017.

 

 

 

June 30

Desolation Wilderness

Missing hiker found,
Mountain Democrat, June 30, 2017.

Never wander off, without knowing exactly how to get back...

 

 top
topics
latest

 

June 29

Summer Conditions Delayed

California in July: It’s time to hit the slopes,
Mercury News, June 29, 2017.

 

 

 

June 28

Autopsy shows man died of drowning at Wapama Falls,
Union Democrat, June 27, 2017.

 

Recent Rescues

Searchers make multiple rescues; one man last seen in Merced River is still missing,
Union Democrat, June 26, 2017.

 

 

 

June 27

Man dies at Wapama Falls on Hetch Hetchy,
Union Democrat, June 26, 2017.

 

BACKPACKER DIES CROSSING SILLIMAN CREEK,
Kaweah Commonwealth, June 26, 2017.

 

 Kayaker pulled from Upper Truckee River,
Lake Tahoe News, June 27, 2017.

 

Search For Mariposa Man Missing In Merced River,
Sierra News Online, June 26, 2017.

 

 

Uninformed, Unprepped Hikers Suffer

Wet Winter Ups the Ante for Pacific Crest Trail Hikers,
KQED, June 26, 2017

Tahoe to Whitney reported PCT hazards on April 1

 

 

June 21

 The Threat Environment 
High Sierra Mountain Hazards

 

Special Circumstances 
EXTREME DANGER WARNING 

 

 

June 20                                    All High Sierra Mountain Safety
                                                 Warnings thru June 16th below
                                                                      in
                                                            FULL EFFECT

 DANGEROUS RIVERS & FORDING CONDITIONS

Heat, Thaw, Snow Travel & Fording
HAZARDS

Avalanche and Lightening Hazards, too !

Mono Flooding Hazard Warning

 

Merced Flooding Outlook Warning

 

MOUNTAIN SAFETY HAZARD

THE THREAT OF ACCESS

With Sonora Pass opening on the 13th, the Bishop Creek Shuttle on the 17th, and Tioga Road getting ready for its public opening, we are looking at open access to the High Sierra Flanks and Crestline in very difficult and dangerous snow and fording travel conditions. The rivers dividing Sierra Crestline Peaks are running at powerfully dangerous flows. The creeks are dangerous, the rivers are deadly.

 

April-June Backpacker Alert Update:

ACCESS HAZARD DISCUSSION

 

 

top
topics
latest

 

 

June 19

MOUNTAIN SAFETY HAZARD

Not an Expert at Snow & Cold Fording?
STAY OUT

After 1,000 miles of hiking, everything literally turned upside down as one mistake pulled a man toward a raging waterfall,
SF Gate, June 19, 2017.

First Report, Sierra Sun, below

Accident Location Information:
Return Creek Ford in Virginia Canyon

 

 

Not an Expert at Snow & Cold Fording?
STAY OUT

Dangerous PCT keeping rescue crews busy,
Lake Tahoe News, June 19, 2017.

 

 

HAZARDOUS TRAVEL-FORDING CONDITIONS

FORDING ACCIDENT SELF RESCUE

How dangerous are High Sierra conditions? Even experienced hikers say ‘stay out,’
Fresno Bee, June 15, 2017.

See the Location
TRAIL GUIDE
Page

Kerrick Canyon Ford

 

TRAIL GUIDE
Map
Rancheria Creek through Kerrick Canyon Map


The Kerrick Canyon Ford is on the West end of Kerrick Canyon, below where PCT hikers begin the climb over to Stubblefield Canyon.

 

 

April 1 Backpacker Alert still in FULL EFFECT

 

 

June 16

MOUNTAIN SAFETY HAZARD
Heat Wave

See
Trail Conditions Report, June 16

 

 

June 14 

 

Amazing Self-Rescue brings Full Rescue

Marcus Mazzaferri Rescue: Happy To Be Alive,
Sierra News Online, June 14, 2017.

Finally, a happy ending. Good decisions create the space for "luck."

Later SF Chronicle Article

 

High Sierra Mountain Safety
Fording

 

Let's Disect

I identify this ford Marc was knocked down in as the Return Creek Ford in Virginia Canyon:

Virginia Canyon Trail Guide: Return Creek Ford Points

 

The "shelter" he cited was likely the stone kitchen building at Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp.

Glen Aulin Trail GuideStone Kitchen & Canvas Dining Room

 

Here's a TRAIL MAP of the whole area of interest

Virginia Canyon to Tuolumne Meadows Hiking Map

I figure Marc found the National Park Snow Removal & Repair Road Crews working Highway 120 into shape somewhere between Tenaya Lake to Tuolumne Meadows.

Click the map above for more detailed maps. Click the red dots marking trail routes to see the guide for that location.

The Big Picture

North Yosemite Backcountry and the Grand Canyon of The Tuolumne River

Click Red Dots for Trail Guide entries, Black Dots for Highly Detailed trail maps

 

top
topics
latest

 

June 13

WARNING
Conditions Deteroriate & Change Rapidly

 

Storm churns waves up to 6 feet on Lake Tahoe, drops foot of snow in Sierra,
SF Crate, June 12, 2017.

No big deal. Expect the unexpected. Last year the remnants of TS Blanca hit us during the same time of June.

 

DROWNING FEARS UP IN US WEST AS RIVERS SURGE WITH SNOWMELT,
AP, June 12, 2017. 

 

 

TWO FATALITIES?
High Sierra Water Hazards at Peak Levels

 

Weather hinders search for Tahoe kayaker,
Record Courier, June 11, 2017.

 

Drowning woman pulled from Upper Truckee River,
Record Courier, June 9, 2017.

Let's hope Tahoe kayaker got safely off the lake and is hunkerd down waiting out the stormlet, and that the woman Truckee River-kayaker survives her ordeal.

6-13 Update:
RIP woman kayaker.

Search continues for lake kayaker

In the meantime, we'll use extreme caution approaching all forms of Sierra Water, including the still-deep snow on the Sierra Crestline.

 

 

June 7

SEVERE WATER HAZARDS

 

Search Continues For Man Who Fell From Mist Trail In Yosemite,
Sierra News Online, June 6, 2017.

Union Democrat Notice

 

  

Near drowning on Upper Truckee River,
Lake Tahoe News, June 7, 2017.

 

 

top
topics
latest

 

June 6

Note
Serious mountain safety issues in Washington and Colorado. (And California!)

 

 

 

June 1

Trails are Dangerous

Teen dies after falling 50 feet while hiking in Lake Tahoe’s Emerald Bay,
Tahoe Daily Tribune, May 31, 2017.

 

 

Out of the Sierra, but very very relevant...

Ill-prepped Climbers pulled off Quandary Peak in Summit County.

 

 

 

May 31, 2017 
More
Memorial Day Mountain Safety Reports

Report from Sequoia
SNOW HINDERS HIGH-COUNTRY TRAVEL IN SEQUOIA-KINGS CANYON NATIONAL PARKS,
Kaweah Commonwealth, May 30, 2017.

 

 

Report from Kern River
Memorial Day weekend on the Kern River is one of the deadliest in 24 years,
Bakersfield.com, May 30, 2017.

 

Good Fording Advice, Too:

Avoid a tragedy on the lake: Why swimming in Lake Tahoe is unique,
Mountain Democrat, May 31, 2017.


Forest Service offers safety tips,
Record-Courier, May 28.

Greatest Threats
Fording and Lightening

 

 

 

May 30, 2017 
Memoral Day Report 

Deadly weekend on California’s Kern River: 3 dead, 24 rescued,
Tahoe Daily Tribune, May 30, 2017.

 

 

Kern River kills two over Memorial Day weekend as at least a dozen others are rescued from rough currents,
Bakersfield.com, May 30, 2017.

 

 

Where were all the people? American River nearly deserted due to dangerous conditions,
Sac Bee, May 29, 2017.

 

 

Woman rescued by helicopter after tumbling 30 feet near Lake Tahoe,
Tahoe Daily Tribune, May 29, 2017.

 

 

On the Lighter Side 
Guatemalan Insanity Peppers?

Man rescued after bad drug trip,
Record-Courier, May 26, 2017.

Did the coyotes tell him they were hungry?
The Simpsons episode 162

A fine example of very poor decision-making:
Don't start your hike with Guatemalan Insanity Peppers!

 

 

top
topics
latest

 

 

 May 27

PCT-JMT BRIDGE DOWN

Woods Crossing Suspension Bridge

Damaged bridges affect PCT/JMT and Rae Lakes Loop in significant way,
PCTA, May 25, 2017.

 

Woods Crossing
UPDATE

August 1, 2017 
New Link: NEW LINK

New Story: 
Woods Crossing NOT damaged.

 

Woods Crossing: Suspension bridge over Woods Creek DOWN

Master trail mechanic Marty Maine of Sequoia National Park, AKA, "Reaper,"
inspecting and recording repairs to Woods Crossing during 2009.

 

This is just the first of what are going to be many damaged trails, broken bridges, tree falls, washouts, and avalanches that are happening or being reveled as the snow pack receeds up-mountain.

EXPECT bad trail conditions and make your plans accordingly. Nature is the wild card, and IT has dealing hands of destruction over these past years, and is topping this run of drought off with a crazy Winter and Spring.

Last year we were worried about fires. This year about drowning. From one extreme to the other.

 

 How to BYPASS
Downed Woods Crossing Bridge

Northbound on the PCT-JMT

1> West down Bubbs Creek from Vidette Meadow towards Roads End.

2> North up Woods Creek to rejoin PCT-TYT on the Northbound Shore of the downed Woods Crossing Bridge.

3> Continue North along Woods Creek towards Pinchot Pass.

 

Southbound

1> South past Woods Crossing to Bubbs Creek Trail, just a bit North of Roads End.

2> East up Bubbs Creek to PCT-JMT @ Vidette Meadow.

3> Continue South up to Forester Pass.

 

30 Minute USGS Topo Map: Rae Lakes Loop & the JMT-PCT route

 

REPORT ALL CONDITIONS-DAMAGES-OBSERVATIONS FOR POSTING

 

Woods Crossing Image: High Sierra Backpacker Magazine, bottom-right of page. 

 

 

top
topics
latest

 

 

May 25

Dangerous River, Stream, & Fording Conditions

Rapid snowmelt will continue around Lake Tahoe; flood advisory in effect in central Sierra Nevada
Tahoe Daily Tribune, May 24, 2017.

 

 

Reprise: All Hazards Still in Effect

Dangerous Terrain & Fording Conditions

West’s super snowpack could be deadly summer hazard,
Reno Gazette-Journal, May 4, 2017.

 

 

Dangerous River

Kings River Closed
Below Pine Flat Dam

You won’t be able to cool off this spring in the Kings River,
Fres Bee, May 24, 2017.

 

 

Snow-Ice Terrain Accident

Update: Missing Mt. Whitney hiker found deceased,
Sierra Wave, May 23, 2017.

 

 

Get Ready for Difficult Terrain

West’s super snowpack could be deadly summer hazard
Reno Gazette-Journal, May 4, 2017.

 

 

May 23

Water Accident-Drowning

Rivers swollen from melting Sierra Nevada snowpack claim another life in the Central Valley,
LA Times, May 23, 2017.

 

 

May 22

 

Search

Search Continues For Missing Coarsegold Man,
Sierra News Online, May 19, 2017.

 

 

May 18

Owens River Victim Recovery

Bellflower man found deceased in Owens River,
Sierra Wave, May 18, 2017.

 

 

May 15

Mountain Rescue
Mount Whitney
IDIOT ALERT
Improperly geared and skilled hikers

 

Atop Mount Whitney and battling frostbite, these hikers sent out an SOS,
Fresno Bee, May 15, 2017.

 

May 10

Merced River
HIGH WATER 
WARNING

 Merced River in Yosemite is rising again. Flooding expected Wednesday,
Fres Bee, May 9, 2017.

 

 

 May 9

East and West Forks of the Carson River

HIGH WATER
WARNING

 Flood advisory issued for this week
Record Courier, May 6, 2017.

 

 

May 8

LOST-INJURED DAY HIKER SEARCH

Search for Lost Day Hiker around Yosemite Valley 

 

 

May 5

EXTREME MOSQUITO THREAT

Mosquitoes surge after rain and heat in Northern California,
Sac Bee, May 4, 2017.

Health and Fitness

 

 

May 4

EXTREME FORDING-WATER DANGER
FIVE DROWNINGS SINCE APRIL 15
After a third body is pulled from Tule River, sheriff wants to close river access,
Fresno Bee, May 3, 2017.

 

 

 May 3

Avalanche

HIKER INJURED IN AVALANCHE,
Kaweah Commonwealth, May 1, 2017.

 

 Topic
Avalanches

Incredible Avalanche Dangers

I warned of serious layering of the snow on Jan 20 2017, writing a note called, "January 2017 Assesment," especially "Danger-Danger" where I specifically warned of the potential for these dangerous Spring avalanche conditions building across Winter. Here they are.

 

 

Equipment Failure, Improper prep & gear for journey?

Cause of death released for man found at Eagle Meadow,
Union Democrat, April 27, 2017.

 

top
topics
latest 

 


April 30, 2017

MOSQUITO-DISEASE

State Reports First West Nile Case of 2017, Kings County,
April 28, 2017.

 
California confirms first human West Nile Virus case of 2017,
Mercury News, April 29, 2017.

Skeeter News  

Health and Fitness

 

 

 

April 29

US Forest Service Issues
IDIOT ALERT
Hike around Lake Tahoe: Most backcountry trails still covered with ‘a lot of snow,
Tahoe Daily Tribune, April 29, 2017.

(Really? A lot of snow? I've had a backpacker alert up since April 1)

 

 

 

April 24

TWO FATALITIES

One>
Avalanche-Steep Snow Fall

Two>
Water Accident

Two deaths, one on Mt. Whitney, in Sequoia-Kings National Park,
Sierra Wave, April 24, 2017.

 

Two Fatalities in Sequoia National Park,
Sequoia National Park, April 23, 2017.

 

 

DISEASE WARNING

MONO COUNTY
Issues Hantavirus Warning

Be aware of hantavirus,
Sierra Wave, April 23, 2017.

Yosemite Outbreak

Yosemite Information

High Sierra Mountain Safety Log

 

 

 April 22

CalTrans Crews reports heavy snow movement in the mountains 

No Passing Lane on Tioga,
The Sheet, April 22, 2017.

 

 

March 6, 2017

Trees-Snags 
Woman Struck By Falling Tree Dies in Yosemite National Park,
Sierra News Online, March 6, 2017.

More in Sac Bee

Mountain Safety: Snags

 

 

Avalanches
Avalanches and road closures persist from major Sierra snowstorm,
SF Chron, March 6, 2017.

New avalanche and snow burial practice guidelines released by wilderness medical society
ELSEVIER HEALTH SCIENCES, March 2, 2017.

 

 

Animals 
Man kills mountain lion after attack at Mono Lake,
Sierra Wave, February 28, 2017.

 

 

Adversity 
What doesn't kill you makes you stronger
SANFORD-BURNHAM PREBYS MEDICAL DISCOVERY INSTITUTE, February 15, 2017.

 

 

Avalanches 
Men post selfie while trapped in avalanche on Highway 89
Sacbee, January 23, 2017.

As California goes from drought to deluge, a dangerous old foe returns: mudslides.
LaLa Times, January 22, 2017.

 

 

Flood 
Much of Ca Nailed by Flooding
AT LEAST 4 REPORTED DEAD IN CALIFORNIA STORMS,
AP, January 23, 2017.

 

 

Avalanches-Weather 
Sierra slammed: Avalanche warnings, 154-mph wind gust recorded,
SFCrate, January 22, 2017.

 

 

Drugs 
Do most Mount Everest climbers use medications, and should they? 
MARY ANN LIEBERT, INC./GENETIC ENGINEERING NEWS, December 14, 2016.

 

 

Statistics 
Survey: 1 in 4 vacations includes a trip to the ER,
MediaSource, November 21, 2016.

 

 

Altitude 
Andeans with altitude sickness produce massive amounts of red blood cells,
University of California - San Diego, November 7, 2016.

Adjusting to Altitude

 

 

Fire 
'Above average' wildfire activity is forecast through October,
LAT, August 3, 2016.

 

 

Fire-Smoke 
High Sierra Weather, Fire and Smoke ReportsDrought.

 

 

Animals 
Los Angeles mountain lions hunt closer to human settlements than expected
PLOS, July 27, 2016.

 

 

Personal Medical Emergency
HIKER DIES ON HIGH SIERRA TRAIL (WITH UPDATE),
Kaweah Commonwealth, May 27, 2016.

 

 

Stupid Human Tricks: 
Death by GPS 
Hilarious 
Why do we follow digital maps into dodgy places?
ArsTechnica, May 3, 2016.
Navigation Intro and Info

 

 

Stupid Human Tricks:
Animals

Half of the large carnivore attacks are due to the imprudence of human behavior,
Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), 2-8-16.

 

 

Two thirds of cattle attacks on people involve dogs, new study finds,
University of Liverpool, 2-1-16. 


Also See
When cows attack
and

I’m not a freeking cow, nor a cowboy.
A Mule, maybe…

 

 

American Stupidity:
 Quantified

Distracted walking: A serious issue for you, not me,

December 02, 2015, American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. 

 

 

 A 1000 year flood per decade

After historic flooding, Death Valley gears up for 'a long, hard recovery,'
Nov 9, 2015, LAT. Also see original report, and note this is the second "1000 year" flood DV has seen in the last decade.

 

 

Insects-Disease
General
 
Aggressive nonnative mosquitoes spreading across state carry disease risk,
Oct 24, 2015, LAT.

Mosquito Information for Hikers

Mosquito News & Information

 

 

PLAGUE
Plague Persists

Squirrel Tests Positive for Plague in South Lake Tahoe Area
El Dorado National Forest, September 4, 2015.
Also See: Plague Persists, August 19, 2015. 

 

top
topics
latest

 

 

Insects 
‘Killer bees’ found in the Bay Area for the first time,
SF Gate, Sep 28, 2015.
 We are going to have to develop "killer-bee safety plans" that address potentially dangerous interactions with "killer bees" on the trail. It's just a matter of time and more heating.

 

 

Insects-Disease
West Nile
 
The Bugs are Coming... The Bugs are Coming 
First West Nile virus death reported in Los Angeles County,
LAT, September 15, 2015. 

Mosquito Information for Hikers

Mosquito News & Information

 

 

 

DONT EVER FEED THE ANIMALS
Aggressive mountain goats close down Idaho hiking trail

Mashable, September 14, 2015.

 

 

Weather 
Expect the Unexpected
Grey Swans: Rare but predictable storms could pose big hazards
Princeton, August 31, 2015. 

 

 

Lost 
Folsom hiker found alive after 9 days in Sierra National Forest,
Sac Bee, August 29, 2015.

 

 

PLAGUE
Insects-Disease
Plague Persists 
Second Yosemite tourist diagnosed with plague,
SF Chron, August 19, 2015. 
Also See: 
Yosemite Plage earlier this year

Mono Country and Sierra Plague Warnings

Plague Index of Information and News

 

 

 

PLAGUE
Insects-Disease
Plague Persists  
Tuolumne Meadows Campground Closing 
 Plague Threat Expands 
AUGUST 14 2015
By my recokening plague rolls through the Sierra every few years, judging by the rise and fall of the craziness of the small and large mammals over a couple of decades. Seasonal weather changes have expanded species suseptibility to infection, increasing human risk and exposure. In my opinion.

And, making the small mammals crazy almost every other year...

That bodes well.

Yosemite’s Tuolumne Meadows Campground to Be Closed After 2 Squirrels Found Dead From Plague, KTLA,  August 14, 2015.
(Closed from noon on August 17 to noon on August 21)

Yosemite National Park Plague Information

Mountain Safety, High Sierra Plague Warning.

Tuolumne Meadows, National Park Service
(Closed from noon on August 17 to noon on August 21) 

 See Recent and Historical Plague Warnings.

Also See:
Mountain Safety, High Sierra Plague Warning.

Plague Index of Information and News

 

Top

 

Food Fight
Animals-Bear
No such thing as a free meal... when the food fights back:
Man fights off bear near Yosemite National Park, drives himself to hospital,
LAT,  August 14, 2015.

 

Snags

Tree limb falls on tent in Yosemite, killing 2 minors,
CNN,  August 14, 2015.

Also See
Mountain Safety, Snags.

 

 

Insects-Disease

General 
Mono County offers smorgasbord of diseases,
The Sheet, August 14, 2015.

Mosquito Information for Hikers

Mosquito News & Information

 

Insects-Disease
Plague

L.A. County child treated for human plague after visiting Yosemite National Park, Stanislaus National Forest,
OC Register, August 6, 2015.

Also See
Mountain Safety, High Sierra Plague Warning.

Plague Index of Information and News

 

top
topics
latest

 

ACCIDENT

Hiker Gregg Hein of Clovis recalls six days in high Sierra with badly injured leg (video),
Fresno Bee, July 15, 2015.

 

 

Water Hazard: Potable 

Watch Out for the Green Water 
Toxic blue-green algae pose increasing threat to nation's drinking, recreational water,
OSU,  August 12, 2015. 

Watch out for the Green Water

 

 

WATER HAZARD: Physical

HIKER RESCUED AT POTWISHA,
Kaweah Commonwealth, May 18, 2015.

 

 

Calculated Risks

LAT on Grahanm Hunt's Death with Dean,
LAT, May 18, 2015. 

Extreme athlete Dean Potter hailed as 'a visionary' by fellow climbers and friends,
Guardian, May 14, 2015.

 

 

The Sun-EXPOSURE 
Shining a light on the damage that daily sun exposure can cause: Study highlights need for better sunscreens,
U Michigan Health System, 12-4-2013.

 

 

Rodent Droppings-Disease
Hantavirus

Yosemite

Outbreak of Hantavirus Infection in Yosemite National Park,
CDC, November 1, 2012.

Hantavirus in Yosemite,
NPS. 

Death at Yosemite: The Story Behind Last Summer's Hantavirus Outbreak,
Outside, December 18, 2012.

 

Bodie

Ghost town is ‘ticking time bomb’ for state park workers, hantavirus survivor’s dad warns,
Sac Bee, August 28, 2017.

 

Latest Reports

Mono Warning, April 2017

July-August 2017, East Sierra, BODIE Story

August 28 BODIE Story & Threats, above.

 

The Hantavirus Authorities


California State

How to Deal with Hantavirus


Federal CDC

Hantavirus 


Yosemite

Hantavirus

 

Top

 

Rescue Log & Events

Greatest
Physical Threats

In my opinion fording rivers and lightening present the greatest dangers in the Sierra Nevada during Spring and Summer, respectively. Fording during the Spring Thaw and high water, and lightening during Summer Thunderstorms. After fording and lightening, I figure that injury from falls is next, closely followed by soft-tissue injuries caused by poor physical preparation, previous injury, and overuse injuries. Then exhaustion. Exhaustion is the rogue skirting around the edge of camp, looking for a way in.

Fording
Fording is exceptionally dangerous once the Spring Thaw begins in earnest. At certain times and flows fording will be impossible. At other times it will present a range of conditions from "dangerous" to passive.

You must be able to judge conditions sufficiently to identify the level of danger each ford involves, and if it is within your capabilities. I have a few tips for when conditions permit safe fording.

First, I always carry a set of light tennis shoes that double as camp, fording, and emergency shoes. My boots are secured to my pack, and I cross in fording shoes. Second, I employ a stick to use as a "tripod" leg. Third, I face upstream as I maintain two points of stability as I re-situate one leg, or the "tripod stick" towards the opposite shore.

I have a careful plan for what I am going to do if I go down crossing. I figure on floating for a bit as I'm ejecting the pack, then observing it as I swim for where I figure my efforts and the power of the current will naturally push me.
 Then I have a plan for how long I can search for my pack before circumstances force me to begin my self-rescue, forcing me to jog down mountain towards warmth as quickly as circumstances permit.

My "dangerous fording" butpack always has a couple of power bars in it.

Well, that's the general outline of how I approach fording, and even for crossing a downed tree over a surging river.

What happens if I slip off? That is always The Question.

I have a plan!

Discussion on fording and lightening.

2017 Epic Fording Disaster & Self Rescue

A series of fording-cold water accident articles above.

 

 LIGHTENING

On the Weather Page
Full High Sierra Backpacking Lightening Information,
Including Current Lightening Probability Charts, Lightening Safety Information, Including Case Studes.

 

Best practical guide to Lightening Safety:

Doc Boswell's Great Thunderstorm and Lightening Advice

 

Articles

Hit by Lightening

 High Sierra hiker struck by lightening, survives,
August 2017.  

Tropical Downpour Contributes to Fatality, Flash Flood Warning for Donnell Fire Area,
September 5, 2018.

 

 Standard
Lightening Policy & Practices

I advise you have a lightening policy for you & or your group. There are two basic moves that I make, and that the group should be instructed to understand.

RUN
The first is to run. If you can see that an active electrical storm is approaching your exposed position, get the hell off of that position before the storm gets to you. The object of running is to get off of the exposed position before the cell catches you out. The important point is to be able to observe the conditions forming, and retreat.

I am thinking that storms are capable of throwing lightening into us from 15 miles out, and we have a big target painted on our asses once they get within 7 miles of our position. On the other hand, lightening in the High Sierra sometimes displays itself in patterns. It comes in the afternoon, typically forming up around 2:30.

OBSERVE
A smart application of this knowledge is to figure out our daily schedule, note which involve afternoon mountain crossings, and institute careful observation of evolving weather conditions on days we make late-afternoon exposed crossings.

If thunderstorm clouds are forming up we are going to try not to have any exposed terrain crossings happen after 2 pm in the afternoon. 2pm is typically when afternoon electric storms in the Sierra form-up.

Storm Cycle

Local Lightening
I find that thunderstorms typically happen in patterns, or cycles. Observe the daily weather cycle. Thunderstorm cycles build when Summer heat waves are tormenting the Valley, and are generally inactive when the Summer heat is down in the Valley.

Thunderstorm conditions are transported to the Sierra Crest when the Valley is heating up to the high '90s and low 100s during the day, and there is a light onshore wind. This moisture and heat is transformed into epic thunderheads and fierce lightening storms as it approaches and crosses the Sierra Crest.

HIDE
Our second potential move is the self-stash. Get at least 50 yards away from our pack. Make sure you remove your food from the pack. Don't let a bear drag your pack off when you are hiding from lightening. Flatten yourself at the lowest point of your nearby terrain as far away from elevated rock or trees as possible. Maintain your position until the cell passes or breaks up.

 

TROPICAL LIGHTENING 
Tropical Storms are typically much rarer than our afternoon local lightening storms bearing heat and moisture pushed up the Western flank out of the valley. Our tropical storms are typically pushes of warm, wet, tropical air and storms moving North out of the Gulf of Mexico or Sea of Cortez.

These storms out of the South and Southeast are not local, therefore do not abide by the typically afternoon development timing of the local thunderstorms, meaning they can be and are active anytime, including evenings and nighttime. On the other hand, the local heat-driven thunderstorms out of the Valley typically fade at sunset, when the solar source of their power terminates. 

Observation
We will see these suckers coming when we get long views East and Southeast from the Sierra Crest, if we don't feel or hear them first. Vibrant yellow and red tinted thunderheads, colored by sucking up various shades of dust coming across the Southwest US deserts mark their presence while still far out over the deserts to the East by spewing tropical downpours and lightening to the drumbeat of resonating thunder rolling across the desert.

Our first hints of an approaching tropical thunderstorm can be feeling and smelling warm, moisture-filled tropical winds out of the Southeast, hinting at what's to come. Then we'll see the billowing, fluffy outlying weaker cells around the time we start to hear distant thunder as the center of instability draws closer.

Tropical Thunderstorms in the Sierra are becoming more common every year. It looks to me like the bulging "equatorial belt" of hot air and moisture wrapping around the world has gotten hotter, changed its fundamental shape, and expanded hundreds of miles Northward.

This Northern Expansion has now put California well within the range of tropical storms out of the South, during the "Wet" season down South. These changes have brought increasing tropical activity to the Sierra during both Summer and Winter.
The vast majority of last Winter's record 2016-17 snow fall came out of the South and Southwest, and during a non-El Nino year. We received much more snow during the 2016-17 Winter season than we did during the super-strong El Nino of 2015-16's average Winter snowfall. Weird. But the point is that tropical instability is much more likely now than in the past.

 

The Tropics are Here

 

Also See
Eastern Thunderstorm Hits Sierra Nevada from Gulf of Mexico 

 

Lightening Forecast Probabilities

 

top
topics
latest

 

Top

 

Lightening Story
RUNNING

 A few years ago I was hiking with my buddies Dave and Bubba. Dave and Bubba are from Walker, Ca, which sits just about 14 miles North of the junction with Highway 108 on Highway 395. Walker literally sits in the shadows of the Eastern Flank of the  Sierras. It's a fine place with some classic folks.

We entered the Sierras through the Eastern flank and were passing down to a junction of the Silver King Creek with a major tributary. We were taking a break at a large juniper tree when very troubling thunderheads formed above us. We were in a very dangerous situation. 

Then a massive bolt of lightening struck the crest of the ridge above us, brilliant in its flash. Holey-Moley!
I automatically "count the flash," and the thunderclap sounded before my count reached "1," which meant it was time to run like the dickens.

I advised the boys to saddle up, and prepare to begin a spaced trot down the trail as quickly as possible. The first hiker would begin trotting down the trail, and the next hiker would begin when the first got about 50 yards down the trail, and the third would follow 50  yards later,They frkn skoffed at me, thinking me crazy. That got me excited, and I began to berate them as I saddled up to run down the mountain, and get my ass the hell out of the danger zone.
 

  I had observed the formation occurring, I had communicated  the potential of impending danger to my buddies, and they laughed. I then inspired them to movement by the force of my personality, (I got damn mad, and was as scared as mad...and my anger and fear apparently convinced them to move, but they moved quite slowly) but they did not move with conviction until the second lightening bolt almost smoked us.  

Those boys jumped up, instantly got their packs on, and Bubba was running down mountain as quick as you could snap your fingers. I had to pause the rush to properly space our retreat down the ridge. Lightening was now striking constantly, and no thunderclap was more than 2 seconds behind the flash.

Retreating down the ridge quickly removed us out from under the active lightening storm, though I was not feeling safe until we finally entered the forest in the valley around the Silver King Creek. Lightening from a storm cell can strike Ten Miles from the orginating cell...

Afterthough on the lightening incident..

There was no immediate threat when we began our crossing of exposed terrain. A hot, wet air mass driving West out of the Southern Pacific Ocean had already brought days of light rainstorms with no lightening. Now the weather was changing on the departing tail of the Pacific Storm. Heat in the valley was being sucked up the tail end of this weak storm, the departing low pulling moist hot air up the Sierra in the wake of the Pacific Storm. Frkn weird weather...

The massive layer of stratus began to break up into a seres of messy but strong cell formations as big cells of Valley heat disrupted the tail end of the storm.

A cell formed directly above us as we were taking a break at the sole big tree in open terrain. We took our break under a stratus layer, and ran as a thunderhead formed around us!

Other Potential Options
At that point it may have been best to stash the packs away from us, get away from the tree, and flatten out on the hillside in widely separated positions. Or retreat off the trail down to the creek to our South down the mountain a short way.

But, there was no cover whatsoever anywhere near where we were. We were fully exposed. The lightening was hitting the high points. We had the ridgetop to our North attracting the strikes, and our tree was the next highest thing around.

I decided a spaced run down mountain was our best option. The kids were running down the trail seconds after the second lightening bolt struck, and it would have been more dangerous to try to stop them at that point to stand around and communicate our options as it was to run down to safety.

 

Summertime Tropical Downpour and Fierce Lightening Video.

Summertime Snow Video on YouTube.

 

 

Lightening Information on the Weather Page


Full High Sierra Backpacking Lightening Information,
Including Current Lightening Probability Charts, Lightening Safety Information, Including Case Studes.

 

Doc Boswell's Great Thunderstorm and Lightening Advice.

 

 Standard Lightening Policy & Practices, above

 

From the Sierra News,
An Article

 

Hit by Lightening

 

Top


 

The Threat Within

Bad decision making is the basis of most of the safety issues cited above and which follow below. Bad decisions have a number of sources. Bad decisions can eminate from  improper or faulty information, a lack of experience, or the psychological stresses induced by the physical demands of the trail, which are magnified by emergency circumstances.

Bad decision making can put you at risk before you even leave home. If you improperly gear yourself for the conditions you encounter, independent of what you think you will encounter, things can go very wrong very quickly. An event like an unexpected snow storm, rather than being an intense delight,  and a trail-finding navigational challenge, will put your life at risk.

All of these potential dangers are consolidated and accelerated by poor fitness and improper physical preparation. Getting your muscles and joints stretched out while breaking in a pair of boots before hitting the trail reveals potential problems where they can be addressed constructively.

Making sure that you and your gear work as anticipated requires testing your assumptions in a safe environment before deeply engaging with Nature.

I have written an introduction to the gear section that generally addresses the safety aspects of proper gearing.

Notes on Navigation

Navigation, Time, and Space Resources

 

Discussion on Unmaintained Trails
Basic Details of Unmaintained Trails

 

Discussion on Cross Country travel
Manzanita,  Constant Observation, and the Big View.


Animal Kingdom

Bears

Some of you may have noted that I did not include animals, specifically bears, as a safety issue in the Sierras. I have seen and experienced my share of bear havoc, and bear problems are almost always a function of bad decision making.

Bears are not a problem if you are not a problem. 

Two Very Important Things
  Never sleep with your food, and never store food in your pack in camp. I've seen this too many times, and seen too many backpackers running when the bear comes for the food they are sleeping with. Well, most are just scared-shitless, if not wounded.

 Storing food in your pack overnight means we will eventually have pack-stealing bears here in the Sierra at some point in time. That is unacceptable.

In a nutshell, the issue with Sierra bears is always about food. I'll eventually do a complete bear section in this safety section, (See Trail and Camp Skills) but the fact of the matter is there is no bear problem where there is secure food storage. It's a people problem. And I've got some good bear stories for you! I mean people stories...

Bear Technology

 

top
topics
latest

 

 

Mosquitoes

Also in the Animal Kingdom are our flying friends, the mosquitoes. These delightful devils were only a hassle, granted a major hassle, until about 15 years ago, when West Nile disease spread across the United States on the Wings of Rising Temperatures, bringing weird seasonal patterns, and accompanied by legions of bark beetles. Protection against the mosquitoes is no longer for comfort alone, but for protection against West Nile Disease.

 

Information about Sierra Mosquitoes

Hiking and Camp Strategies for Mosquitoes


 

"Mosquitoes and Seasonal Temperature Shifts: Backpacking the High Sierras"

 

Little guys

Don't mess with the squirrels, chipmunks, or other mammals. They carry fleas, and the fleas in the Sierras carry bubonic plague. Really.

But the damn things are hella cute!

 I was just dozing-off one Spring evening, laying on my pad, and wearing only my shell for protection, (not even a bag or tent) when a vast falling star startled me back to quasi-consiousness.
As I settled back to sleep, two tiny baby chipmunks ran onto my Left leg, and began to play. I rotated my head up to peer at them, which caused them to freeze, looking intently at me. I said, "what are you guys doing?" and they turned back to each other and continued to play.

I enjoyed their play for a few minutes, but as the fog of sleep parted, I remembered the plague, and sadly decided they had to go. I caught their attention, and firmly said, "you guys gotta go," which got me no respect at all. So I upped the pressure a notch, loudly repeating my invitation to leave,  accompanied by gently shaking my leg.

The little bastards thought I was playing with them, and dug their little claws into my North Face Shell lowers, and enjoyed the ride. I was exsaperated. I did not want to be mean, but they had to go. So I summed up my Voice of Authority, and told them in no uncertain terms that they were leaving NOW, and they did. Watching those little guys run up and down my leg is a fond memory. I hope they made the Spring Cut, and did not end up as a snack.


 

Typical Trailhead Plague Warning

 

2015  Plague Outbreak

 

Top

 Marmots

Marmots are an issue if you improperly store food.  Oh, and store you pack properly as well. The Marmots and the rest of the Varnmits will chew the heck out of sweat-encrusted shoulder and hip straps.

If Marmots or even gophers are a threat I tuck the straps inside my pack's frame, placing the pack straps-side down on the ground, then secure it with a heavy rock.

 

 

See the
Backpacking is Dangerous!
 warning-disclaimer.

 

See the related
Backpacking Unmaintained Trails is Dangerous
warning-disclaimer.

 

 

Backpacking is Dangerous, The Legal Disclaimer: 
Terms and Conditions
of use for the Tahoe to Whitney trail guide and forum...

 

 News Categories

Bee News

Bear News

Health and Fitness

Mountain Safety Issues

Astro-Physics News

Spider Forum

Trees

Mosquito News

Geology News

Anthropocene

 

Top

 

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

Powered by Drupal, an open source content management system

Search

Latest News: RSS FEED

Syndicate content

Support Tahoe to Whitney

The Tahoe to Whitney Trail Guide and Magazine are walked, written, funded, and supported by my efforts, with the help of kindred spirits and my sister.

We offer valuable Trail Guide, Skills, Weather, News and Analysis.

My goal is to get you out to see your natural and social potential. Help me keep this unique resource accessible and expanding towards its potential. We've a lot of miles to cover ahead...

I NEED HELP!
If you feel these efforts are valuable, I'm cordially inviting you to support them, here:

 

 

I am currently working towards publishing the completed guide between Tahoe & Yosemite as an e-book, while converting this "blog" to a fine magazine format. You will like the results! Help Tahoe to Whitney reach its potential!

 

Why Support Tahoe to Whitney?
Mission Statement