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
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.