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Snowstorm hampers trans-Sierra travelers

  A huge snowpack has more implications than the impending water runoff season. Backcountry travel will be impacted throughout the remaining storms, and backpackers will find the high mountain passes clogged with snow for much of the summer.
   On Tuesday, April 6, three skiers were reported overdue when they failed to return from an ambitious trans-Sierra ski trip in Sequoia National Park. Fresno-area residents Mike Beers, Eric Snyder, and Ryan Soares had been dropped off at the Shepherd Pass trailhead near Independence on the Sierra’s east side.
   The trio entered the high country on April 1 with an itinerary to ski out at Wolverton on April 5. All three are experienced, had the adequate gear, but had never attempted the route previously.
   What they didn’t plan on was the severe storm on Sunday, April 4, that brought four feet of new snow, 100 mph wind gusts, and sub-zero temperatures. With the party being overdue, the National Park Service initiated a search.
   The Pear Lake Ski Hut caretaker was first out in the Tablelands area but reported seeing no signs of the missing skiers. On Wednesday, April 7, a helicopter joined the search and checked the intended route for any signs of the party.
   At approximately 11 a.m., the crew of the helicopter spotted the skiers just southwest of Colby Pass, about the midway point of their journey. All three were in good condition but low on supplies.
   The decision was made to evacuate the overdue party to Ash Mountain. Anyone traveling in the high country should check current conditions because heavy spring snows have increased the risk of avalanches in all areas.

THE KAWEAH COMMONWEALTH is published every Friday in Three Rivers, California.
EDITORS/PUBLISHERS: John Elliott and Sarah Barton Elliott
41841 Sierra Drive (Highway 198), Three Rivers, CA 93271
MAIL: P.O. Box 806, Three Rivers, CA 93271
(559) 561-3627 FAX: (559) 561-0118
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