Snow-Bound for 12 Days Deep in the High Sierra

Hiker Rescued From Yosemite’s High Country

hiker stayed in his tent, rationed his food, and stomped out an “SOS” in the snow

Saturday, November 29 2008 15:46   Tips & Guides
A stranded hiker snow-bound in California's Yosemite National Park for 12 days is alive today because of some smart decisions he made after he got stuck - and a little good luck.

Rangers said park visitor Steve Frazier was rescued Nov. 12 after being trapped for nearly two weeks in two feet of snow. Searchers spotted the missing hiker and his camp from the air on their very first pass over the area after seeing an "SOS" that he had stomped out in the snow.

Part of the reason it took so long to rescue Frazier is that rangers didn't know he was missing.

On Oct. 28 in perfect weather, Frazier began what he had planned to be a five-day trip into the High Sierra. Over the next three days, he hiked more than 20 miles deep into the heart of the park's wilderness. On the evening of Oct. 30, he set up camp at an elevation of 9,700 feet near Red Devil Lake as snow began falling.

The weather turned against Frazier as it proved to be the first significant storm of the developing winter season. The snow obscured the trail he had been following, effectively trapping him at his camp.

He spent the next 12 days hunkered down in his tent, hoping to be rescued and rationing his remaining two days of food. Since Frazier had not told anyone of his plans, though, the rescue was long in coming, rangers said.

It was only after a list of missed commitments and appointments began to pile up (including a missed plane flight home on Nov. 9), that questions regarding his whereabouts began.

On Nov. 10, rangers learned that a solo backcountry hiker was overdue from a hike to an unknown location somewhere within the park.

Frazier made some initial bad decisions, a spokesperson for the National Park Service said, particularly in his failure to leave a detailed route plan with someone who could report him overdue on an agreed-upon date.

Once the storm hit, the spokesperson said, Frazier made better decisions.

At first, he attempted to hike out, but realized that it was too difficult moving in deep snow and that he'd likely get into more trouble. So he stayed in his tent, rationed his food, stomped out an "SOS" in the snow, used his pot as a shovel to keep a clear area around the tent, and above all he kept a positive attitude.

Frazier was found to be in remarkably good shape, rangers said, for someone who had been stranded in the snow for 12 days.


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