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Collapse of Snow Bridge Traps Hiker At Sequoia National Park


A woman training for an ultra-marathon found herself trapped in a creek beneath a roof of snow for about three hours at Sequoia National Park, but survived the ordeal thanks to some passing hikers.

The unidentified 52-year-old from Squaw Valley, California, headed down the Farewell Gap Trail in the Mineral King section of the park Tuesday, according to a park press release.

On her way up Farewell Canyon she crossed a snow bridge over Franklin Creek and continued on. However, on her return the snow bridge collapsed, dropping her into the creek, which swept her 30-40 feet downstream under the snow, the release said.

After coming to a stop, "she stood up in the creek under the snow with no access to the surface. Using her hands, she dug through approximately 5 feet of snow and created a small hole at the surface," the release explained. "She threw her backpack out of the hole, where it was seen by another party who went to examine it and found the woman under the snow nearby."

While the woman was "hypothermic and incoherent" when rescued by the other hikers about 5:15 p.m. Tuesday, she was warmed up by some members of the party while one hiker went for help.

"Upon notification of the incident, the park helicopter (with a medic) and a ranger (on foot) were dispatched to the scene," the release continued. "When rangers arrived, the woman declined evacuation or medical assistance. She was assisted to the trailhead by a ranger."

Park officials note that anyone interested in visiting Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks should be aware that there is still quite a bit of snow at elevations above 7,000 feet, and conditions are expected to last well into the summer due to record snowfall this winter followed by a very cool, wet spring.

"Rivers in the parks have not crested yet and will do so later than in normal years. Visitors to higher elevations face conditions more similar to late winter or early spring than would be expected at this time of the year," they add. "Many trails that normally open in June are still completely covered by snow, and many creek crossings are not passable. Park visitors interested in accessing higher elevations are encouraged to modify their trip plans accordingly."


Good heavens!!! She was sure lucky to make it out alive-- got to be really careful!! I wonder if she left her hiking plan with anyone before she took off--- if not she probably would have never been found if she had not been able to dig the hole and throw out her pack.

Resourcefulness sure paid off. Wonder if she would like to go in on a lottery ticket?

They should make a movie like they di d for the guy that cut off his arm.

Glad she was ok.

This news release was fairly accurate.  I was approaching Franklin Creek on a backpack trip when one of the 2 day hikers, who had just pulled her out of the hole, asked me for help.  The victim was fully hypothermic, and I used my sleeping bag to rewarm her, which took well over an hour.

The hole the victim dug to the surface, from beneath the snow cave, was indeed about 30' from where she fell in.  She was trapped under the snowbridge at least a couple hours.  She knew this because she was using a timer watch for her run, and was able to backtrack the time of her last entry prior to the fall. 

The 2 guys undoubtedly saved her life, and after the fall her chances for survival must have been minimal.  They just happened to see the backpack the victim had thrown out of the hole she dug, when she couldn't climb out of it herself, and investigated.  The 3 of us were the only people on that trail the entire afteroon (besides the victim).  She wouldn't have lasted much longer.

I credit the victim for her resourcefullness and unwillingness to give up.  Her excellent physical shape undoubtedly helped save her life also.

Thank you E.B. for assisting with the rescue of my wife. She is very grateful to all of her rescuers. She is doing ok other than a fair amount of pain from bruises all over her body and a raw knee from frostbite. She was disappointed this weekend that she hadn't healed fast enough to make it on a caving trip where we are assisting with a bug inventory.

I am indeed grateful. Abundant thanks to E.B., the two other hikers who found me, and the Park staff who assisted. Other than superficial frostbite to both hands and one knee--and an assortment of bumps and bruises--I have no lasting injuries. I will be back on the trails again soon.

Marcia Rasmussen

Yikes.  My college roommate and I hiked to Lower Monarch Lake on July 1st-2nd with three 11-12 year old boys in tow.  We were warned by Ranger Len Dickey to steer clear of snow bridges on our trip, which we did.  Interesting that he did not relate this story since it occurred in Mineral King. 
For a great read related to this, check out The Last Season by Eric Blehm.  I won't say any more lest I give it away, but for Sierra lovers, it is a one you won't be able to put down.

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