Travelers Stranded By Thanksgiving Snowstorm

The unexpected snowstorm over the Thanksgiving weekend, stranded at least two parties in the mountains of the Eastern Sierra.

On Sunday night, Inyo and Mono Search and Rescue team members and Sheriff Officers responded to a call for stranded motorists high in the White Mountains. Caught out by the cold and fast snowstorm that blew in Friday night and Saturday, the motorists were stuck roughly 20 miles past the Grandview Campground.

With the vehicle stuck in Mono County and the best access to that location through Inyo County, the two Sheriffs Departments teamed up to drive the Inyo snowcat to pick up the stranded people.

In a separate incident on Monday night, Inyo SAR volunteers and Sheriff Officers responded to a call from family members worried about an overdue hiker in the Bishop Pass area, out of the South Lake trailhead.

The snowstorm had covered the road to South Lake with a moderate coating of powder, so the rescuers once again fired up the Inyo snowcat to go see if the overdue hiker had reached his car.

At the South Lake dam, rescuers spotted foot prints which they followed to the vehicle. Seeing the light of the cat, the stranded backpacker exited the vehicle to greet the rescuers.

With the vehicle stuck in the snow, rescuers helped the stranded hiker load his belongings into the snowcat and drove back down the hill.

The hiker explained that he had started hiking on Thursday intending to climb Mt. Agassiz and possibly head to the Palisades via Dusy Basin. The forecasts he had heard called for high winds but not snow. On Friday, winds were too high for an attempt on Agassiz, so the hiker stayed at Bishop Lake below Bishop Pass. Friday night and into Saturday, the area was covered in two feet of snow.

The hiker attempted to hike out Saturday but did not get very far, maybe a half mile before he decided to hunker down for another night. On Sunday, he made it to his car and had attempted to drive out. It appeared that he was able to drive roughly 50 yards, before he was stopped by snow.

He spent one night in the vehicle and was preparing for a second night when the rescuers arrived Monday night after dark.




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