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Search Underway for Missing Hikers in Kings Canyon NP

Use this forum to stay informed on missing persons alerts, active SAR's and unfortunate hiker accidents we can all hopefully learn from. Any information you may have on a missing person, including first hand weather related information or any other insight (however little) may prove to be critical information to Law Enforcement / SAR in locating the person in question.
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Search Underway for Missing Hikers in Kings Canyon NP

Postby SEKI Public Affairs » Wed Oct 01, 2014 11:19 am

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are currently conducting a search and rescue operation in and around the Cedar Grove area for Rommel and Marisol Pompa who failed to return from their backpacking trip as scheduled on Monday, Sept. 29. The married couple planned to hike the Rae Lakes Loop, departing from Cedar Grove on the Woods Creek trail and returning via the Bubbs Creek trail.

In addition to teams on foot, searchers are using the park helicopter and horse patrols. Currently there are 15 searchers hiking trails within the search area and interviewing other hikers.

The 32 year old Rommel Pompa is described as 6 feet tall and 160 pounds with short, light brown hair and brown eyes. Marisol Pompa is 5 feet 6 inches tall, 140 pounds with shoulder length brown hair and brown eyes. Additional information and a photo are available with the press release on the park's website http://www.nps.gov/seki/parknews/news-release-new.htm. Any hikers who may have seen or come in contact with any of the individual should call the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks Incident Command Post at 559-565-3341 or 888-677-2746.



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Re: Search Underway for Missing Hikers in Kings Canyon NP

Postby maverick » Wed Oct 01, 2014 12:12 pm

Flyer: http://www.nps.gov/seki/upload/Missing-Person-Flyer.pdf

Posted it on Rock Creek, Mammoth, Supertopo, and Yosemite forums.
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Re: Search Underway for Missing Hikers in Kings Canyon NP

Postby SSSdave » Wed Oct 01, 2014 12:34 pm

If they were planning on returning by Sept 29, that would put them at Rae Lakes during the snow storm.
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Re: Search Underway for Missing Hikers in Kings Canyon NP

Postby maverick » Wed Oct 01, 2014 2:08 pm

According to some of the recent TR, the snow started falling as early as 9/26 (Fri)
continued into 9/27(Sat) and 9/28(Sun).

They should have seen the weather posting at Roads End, and the ranger should
have mentioned it. Since they decided to continue, hopefully they did because they
are experienced and had the proper gear to deal with the weather conditions.

If experienced, they probably made Middle or even Upper Paradise on the 25th,
and then were at Rae Lakes 9/26 when the snow started falling in the evening.
Reports are that the temps had dropped dramatically, which means up at Rae
Lakes the conditions could have turned dangerously icy/slippery and hypothermia
may have become an issue if they were not prepared.

The question is what happened the 27th (Sat), did they stay put, and hoping
that the snow would stop, temps would get warmer, only to be hit by another
round of snow, and the continuing below freezing temps on the 28th (Sun).
Did something happen to them at Rae Lakes? Did they try to do Glen Pass under
bad conditions? Did they get disoriented and continue towards Forester or
Kearsarge Pass?

If inexperienced, did they make Rae Lakes or only to Woods Creek Crossing? If
to WCC, did they head up towards Rae Lakes in snowy conditions on the 9/27(Sat),
lost the trail, and headed to some unknown off-trail location?

Questions: Have either ever done this loop before? Did they both have experience?
Did either have experience with dealing with such weather? What gear did they
have? Do they have extra food? What first aid experience do they have? Did they
leave an exact itinerary on where they would be camping, and what their emergency
contingent plans would be?
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Re: Search Underway for Missing Hikers in Kings Canyon NP

Postby Shawn » Wed Oct 01, 2014 2:22 pm

Mav -

This might provide some sense of their hiking experience.
http://alltrails.com/members/rpompa
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Re: Search Underway for Missing Hikers in Kings Canyon NP

Postby Jimr » Wed Oct 01, 2014 3:00 pm

Doesn't look like anything beyond urban hiking trails.
What?!
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Re: Search Underway for Missing Hikers in Kings Canyon NP

Postby maverick » Wed Oct 01, 2014 3:09 pm

Shawn wrote:
Mav -

This might provide some sense of their hiking experience.
http://alltrails.com/members/rpompa


:(
Thanks Shawn, that is not good news.
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Re: Search Underway for Missing Hikers in Kings Canyon NP

Postby SSSdave » Wed Oct 01, 2014 3:24 pm

mav >>>"They should have seen the weather posting at Roads End, and the ranger should
have mentioned it. Since they decided to continue, hopefully they did because they
are experienced and had the proper gear to deal with the weather conditions."

They may have been on the trail before Wednesday Sep 24 which was when NWS forecasters began to change their tune. Originally NWS Reno was saying the trough would probably stay north with just some minor showers as far south as Mammoth. In that situation SEKI personnel at the wilderness desk might not have the weather savvy to raise a flag. Generally it is unwise to start on any longer backpack into the Sierra high country if one is not an experienced winter camper with gear if a trough on the long range forecast might go into Oregon. Because that far out those things have a mind of their own and sometimes start digging against the continent and are deflected south into California.

There seems to be some groups each year that backpack this time of year without realizing the dangers. Anyone that storm skis in powder at resorts during the winter probably has a sober understanding of how deadly below freezing conditions in high winds can be. But there are a whole lot of hikers and backpackers that are only summer enthusiasts. And part of that is because on boards like this they read about others who go out and don't have any issues or some that do get a storm and bail out but don't make much of it. The natural tendency of many is to not embarrass themselves by relating in public how unpleasant their experiences actually are and not a few turn it around and make it sound like it was a great time.
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Re: Search Underway for Missing Hikers in Kings Canyon NP

Postby Buford » Wed Oct 01, 2014 4:21 pm

I hope they are found ok as soon as possible.
I car camped at Onion Valley that weekend. Our conditions close by, although on the other side of the crest from the missing were as follows:

Arrived the 26th to great conditions. I was fully aware of the most recent forecast, but it was hard to believe since it was nice out. Got cold fast once the sun went down. Snowed some late that night, not enough to cover the ground at onion valley.

The 27th was very cold in the morning. Temperatures were in the low 20s late into the morning. The little snow that did stick melted by noon or so. Walked up to Gilbert lake under alternating cold sunny skies and threatening clouds. Mid afternoon the clouds settled in and it started snowing pretty good but not sticking at Onion Valley. Not as cold as the previous night but the wind was brutal.

The 28th was cold in the morning, not as cold as the previous day. Not much snow stuck from the previous night. Went down to Owen's Valley for the night.

Woke up the 29th to see the snow line way down and crystal clear blue skies with no clouds in sight. Maybe ~6000' snowline but it melted fast. Spent the 29th at Horseshoe meadows. All the snow melted quickly there, and it was pleasant in the sun. Once the sun went down, it was very cold again. Probably the coldest night of the trip.
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Re: Search Underway for Missing Hikers in Kings Canyon NP

Postby maverick » Wed Oct 01, 2014 4:31 pm

Thank you Buford for posting that information! :thumbsup:
If anyone else was out near the Rae Lakes area or Kings Canyon on any of these
days, please post the conditions you experienced, it will help SAR with ascertaining
the conditions at the time this couple was out. Thanks
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Re: Search Underway for Missing Hikers in Kings Canyon NP

Postby mgeis » Wed Oct 01, 2014 4:59 pm

I was up there this weekend, and did the Rae Lakes Loop on Saturday (from Roads End, counter-clockwise). I'm 90% sure this is the couple we saw at about 2pm, above Rae Lakes, heading up Glen Pass. They indicated they were going to get to the top and go from there. The snow was starting to come down at that point.

The location/time matches what I'd guess their timeline to be, and doing the whole loop I saw pretty much every "clockwise" hiker that day.

I phoned the rangers just now with that info and learned that they have been located, and are both safe, but need some help getting out (so, they're still out there, probably worse for the wear, but ok). There was no info about where exactly they were located, and I didn't push for that info.

At about 1pm at the top of Glen Pass, there was no snow (but we knew it would come soon). An hour later at 11k it started coming down lightly, but regularly, and after that there was snow all the way down to 9000'.

Matt
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Re: Search Underway for Missing Hikers in Kings Canyon NP

Postby Shawn » Wed Oct 01, 2014 5:14 pm

Matt -

That's great news. Thanks for posting the info and taking action.

Shawn

PS. Welcome to HST
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