[pct-l] Sonora Pass fall

Ned Tibbits ned at mountaineducation.com
Wed Sep 27 21:02:52 CDT 2006


What a scary ride you had and so blessed that you didn't crash into the 
rocky runout!  Next time I'm sure you'll be the wiser.  Thanks for telling 
the story!  We all can benefit from our mistakes and joys.



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Please visit: www.mountaineducation.com
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Tom Drewenskus" <tdrewenskus at qwest.net>
To: "'Ned Tibbits'" <ned at mountaineducation.com>
Sent: Wednesday, September 27, 2006 3:18 PM
Subject: RE: [pct-l] Sonora Pass fall

I had to hike 18 miles north to get to Sonora Pass from the 1000 mile mark
of the PCT. This was one of the most scenic days of my entire PCT hike. At
about 3:00PM, as the dirt trail eventually came around to the north side of
the Peak at Sonora Pass, I could see the vehicles down below. Eventually the
dirt trail came to the steepest section of snow. I looked up and saw a skier
who was skiing down from the very top of the peak. Girl Scout and
Ridgewalker had already made nice footsteps in the snow heading across and
down the steep slope. They were both about 50 yards ahead and ready to begin
glissading straight down on a less steep section. I figured I could just
follow in their footsteps without any problem, even though the slope was
very steep.

As I took my first couple of steps in snow I began sliding (both feet)
downhill immediately. I knew this was not good as there was a large rock
outcropping directly below about 50 feet. As I fell on my butt I tried to
dig my fingers into the snow while holding onto my two trekking poles. My
speed was increasing as I tried to "steer" my way to the right of the large
rock outcropping. I managed to avoid hitting the rocks, but I fell feet
first into a depression between the rocks and where the snow had melted away
from the rocks about 3 feet. I was surprised I did not lose my hat or
sunglasses. I think my pack actually kept me from hitting the rocks. This
depression was about 4 feet deep, and I landed on my chest on loose scree,
mud, and snowmelt. The sudden stop nearly knocked the wind out of me. My
ribs and back were immediately sore. I had lost one of my trekking poles
during the fall and noticed it was lying on top of the snow about 15 feet
above me. So, I inched my way up through the depression until I could snag
my trekking pole with my other trekking pole. Then, I inched my way down the
depression until I could get my feet on solid ground. Ridgewalker came over
to check on my condition. We glissaded and hiked down the last half mile to
Sonora Pass to hitch a ride to Bridgeport.

Once in Bridgeport I was able to see a doctor. He said I had pulled some
muscles away from the ribs. He gave me some Hydrocodone and said I should
rest for several days. I took three zero days in Bridgeport and continued my
hike. Due to my injury I was not able to sleep on my back for about 6 weeks.

I was very lucky to not hit the rocks. I did not have crampons or an ice axe
at the time. I did not know Sonora Pass would be one of the most dangerous
sections of the entire PCT. In hindsight, I should have looked for an
alternate and less dangerous section of trail to descend. I did not see any
alternate routes at the time. In the future I would like the PCTA to close
the steep section of trail on Sonora Pass when it is snow covered. But, this
may be too much to ask.

Tom Drewenskus
Aka "By The Book"

-----Original Message-----
From: Ned Tibbits [mailto:ned at mountaineducation.com]
Sent: Wednesday, September 27, 2006 12:03 AM
To: Tom Drewenskus
Subject: Re: [pct-l] Sonora Pass fall


would you tell me the story of your fall in detail?  What preceeded it, time

of day, decisions made right before, during and after, what stopped the
fall, injuries, etc.?



For Information on Programs, previous Trips, and Photo Gallery,

Please visit: www.mountaineducation.com
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Tom Drewenskus" <tdrewenskus at qwest.net>
To: "'Ned Tibbits'" <ned at mountaineducation.com>
Sent: Tuesday, September 26, 2006 1:26 PM
Subject: RE: [pct-l] Snow Questionaire for pct thru hike finishers

Though I did not finish my thru-hike of the PCT this year, I did hike 1,600
miles. I skipped 500 miles of the desert and all of Washington. Having taken
a 60 foot fall on steep snow on Sonora Pass, I would like to submit my
comments (see below) to the questionnaire.

Tom Drewenskus
Aka "By The Book"

-----Original Message-----
From: Ned Tibbits [mailto:ned at mountaineducation.com]
Sent: Monday, September 25, 2006 10:47 AM
To: pct2006 at yahoogroups.com
Cc: PCT MailingList
Subject: Re: [pct-l] Snow Questionaire for pct thru hike finishers

To Jeff and all of you who finished this outrageous trail experience and are
trying to begin your new lives, can you take a few minutes and share your
thoughts on the following questions? What you say may be used in
presentations at ALDHA-West, the ADZ, REI and other public seminars. Can we
quote you?  If you have any specific pictures that would help others
understand your point of view on a subject below, could you include it in
your response and can we use it for presentation?

In light of your snow and ice challenges:

    - What would you say was the best method of traveling over the snow and
handling the icy stretches? (snowshoes, boots only, runners only, ice axe,
        -  which was the safest, most injury-free? I should have kept my
Katoohla crampons until Sonora Pass, but I sent them home from Independence.
I did not know how steep or dangerous Sonora Pass would be. I fell in the
same place that Cindy Ross writes about in her book.
        -  which allowed you the most miles? I only used trail runners
(Montrail Hardrocks) with low gaiters. Lightweight, blister-free, and they
dried quickly. I would definitely use them again.
        -  which kept you the driest? Slogging through creeks and snow your
feet will get wet no matter what you are wearing. It was not that
uncomfortable to have wet feet as they dried fairly quickly. I was
        -  were you glad you had snowshoes? I considered using them, but
they were too heavy. And, they would have slowed me down considerably.

    -  How many of you were injured in any way while on snow?  (strains,
sprains, cuts, infections, submersions, hypothermia, overexposure,
dehydration, blindness, cramping, weight loss...)

    -  How would you recommend hikers avoid these injuries next year? Find
alternate and less dangerous routes around steep sections, especially Sonora

    -  What techniques worked best for stream crossings?
        -  any troubles with clothes drying out? No, since I wore
quick-drying nylon/polyester clothes, liner socks and lightweight wool
socks. No cotton.
        -  what worked on your feet while crossing? Poly liner socks and
lightweight wool socks. Trail runners (Montrail Hardrocks) rather than
sandals. Sandals take 15 minutes per stream crossing to change into and out
of. Better to just slog though with trail shoes, though I did have a pair of
sandals to change into at campsite.
        -  anyone fall mid-stream and how did you get to safety? No falls,
thanks to my two trekking poles.
        -  any lost gear? Nope.

    -  How many miles a day was realistic? For the first three or four weeks
20 miles per day was realistic. Through the Sierras 20-25 miles per day was
realistic. North of the Sierras 25-30+ miles per day was realistic.
        -  did you have a strategy for accomplishing your miles? Always
started before 7:00AM and tied to hike until at least 7:00PM.(passes/streams
early, really early starts, simply long days...)

    -  Were you prepared for how hard it was? For me the heat of the desert
was much more difficult than anything in the Sierras. Of course, I am not
used to the heat being from Western Washington. I must learn to hike through
the desert at night ad not during the day.
        -  how would you help the next class understand what to expect?
Explain the extreame temperatures to expect in the desert sections in April,
May, and June. More data is needed from Yogi and the guidebook.

    -  Did you have enough food? Carried 2 pounds of food per day. I always
had more lunch items than I needed. I usually carried one extra dinner than
I needed until the next resupply.
        -  which worked best, Hot meals or Cold? Always a hot dinner. Got
bored with cold cereal in the morning. And, it was too heavy and bulky,
including the powdered milk. So, I switched to hot oatmeal each morning.
Oatmeal is much lighter and more compact.
        -  what would you carry more of next time? More spices, seasonings,
and dried veggies to flavor the mashed potato or pasta dinners.
        -  did you go through more fuel or less than on summer trail? My
tiny catfood can stove (see Yogi's handbook) was very efficient and only
used 6/10 of an ounce of heet or alcohol per meal. So, I usually only
carried 6 ounces of fuel at a time.

    -  Did your poles work out?
        -  baskets hold up? My $90 Komperdell Titanal trekking poles with
small baskets worked great. Very lightweight at 1 pound. Also used them to
hold up my tarp.
        -  poles bend or break? One pole did bend a little.
        -  wish they were designed differently?? I wish they were bent
forward for more efficiency.

    -  Ice axe use:
        -  did they help while glissading? I used my trekking poles for
glissading. Did not carry an ice axe. Too heavy.
        -  did any one fall and need to arrest their slide?
        -  did they help on the climbs?
        -  did anyone wish they had learned how to use them before the trip?
        -  anyone injured by the axe, itself?

    -  Crampons:
        -  how often did you need them & under what conditions and
circumstances? I did not need crampons until Sonora Pass. But, I wish I had
had my Katoohla crampons on Sonora Pass. Sent them home from Independence.
        -  what design worked best on runners or boots? Katoohla crampons
work great on all trail runners.
        -  did you feel more secure with them on? I never used them in the
snow, because the snow was already soft, and I could follow existing tracks.
        -  did they add to the safety of your trip through the snow?

    -  Were you warm and dry enough?
        -  what clothing combinations worked for you? Mountain Hardwear poly
t-shirt, lightweight polypro long sleeve shirt, Marmot Dri Clime shirt, 8
ounce rain jacket. Nylon running shorts over poly compression shorts, 5
ounce Duofold polypro pants, and 5 ounce rain pants.
        -  any trouble with frozen items in the morning: No frozen items
            -  water bottles, tent floors, pants, shoes, socks, gaiters,
bags, flies?
            -  did you take time somewhere in the day to dry out? I would
air out my sleeping bag during lunchtime.
            -  if you had trouble with wet and frozen shoes, socks &
gaiters, how would you recommend others avoid what you experienced? Carry a
lightweight pair of cheap Kmart sandals with Teva-type of straps.

    -  Shelter:  Tarp or Tent? I was one of the 2% of thru-hikers who
carried a tarp. A Ray Way 2-person tarp made from a kit. 18 ounces with 6
tent pegs. Also carried 5 ounce mosquito netting for tarp beginning in the
Sierras. I love my tarp, and I always stayed dry.
        -  did anyone experience bad weather on snow? (wind, rain, snow...)
No, but I did not camp on snow.
            -  which type of shelter worked best for you or for others?

    -  What techniques worked best on sun cups? When suncups are frozen in
the early AM, I walked on the ridges between them by using the center
(instep) of my shoe. After suncups had softened, I would step on the peaks

    -  Any troubles with navigation? Sometimes it was not easy to determine
where the pass was located in the Sierras. Example: Donohue Pass.
        -  how would you advise/reassure future hikers regarding following
buried trail? Look up and try to pick out the switchbacks above you, usually
indicated by rock walls.
        -  what techniques/tools worked best? Often the trail is lined with
rocks on both sides. Try to guess where the lined rocks are. Take your time
and try to remain on trail, unless the top of the pass is obvious.

    -  Traction and Sure Footedness:
        -  did you slip a lot walking on the snow or in mud once off the
snow? Sometimes the snow turned into Redi-Whip and I would fall more often.
Or, the snow had melted so much that it became more dangerous.
        -  what would you do differently? I should probably have slowed down
more through some slippery sections.

    -  Climbs and Descents:
        -  did you go straight up or switchback? I never went straight up. I
always tried to follow the switchbacks.
        -  did the snow ever make any strange noises in the pack as you
passed? No strange noises.
        -  did you get sick of the snow and choose rock routes up or down?
Eventually I got tired of the snow and would try to use dry alternatives.
        -  did you posthole down and was it the safest way? Do to the
steepness, sometimes posthole-ing was the safest way down.
        -  did you sit down and slide, stand and skate or traverse down? All
of these methods were used at some time.
        -  was walking in other's footsteps helpful, awkward or dangerous?
Usually, following footsteps was the most helpful and safest way.

    -  Sanitation:
        -  how did you deal with your used toilet paper? I always buried my
used toilet paper.

    -  General:
        -  did everyone carry sunscreen, lip balm, and dark glasses and use
them? Yes, I used all of the above.
        -  did you drink more water or about the same as summer trail? Drank
more water in the Sierras.
        -  did you have any food cravings (like you were missing something
dietary)? No.
        -  any issues with communication out? No.
        -  any safety problems with group members getting spread out on
snow? No.
        -  any advice regarding resupply in the High Sierra (KM to Echo)?
Re-supplied in Independence, Tuolumne Meadows, VVR, and Mammoth. It was
fairly easy, and I wanted to see these places.

    -  Ultralight, advantages/disadvantages:
        -  does the ultralight philosophy adequately prepare you for the
snow experience or does it, basically, get thrown out the window during this
time? I followed the ultralight philosophy during my entire trip. The only
item I added for the Sierras was my Katoohla crampons for a short time.

    -  Forums, ADZ, PCT-L, publications, professional schools and training:
        -  can these methods adequately and realistically prepare thru
hikers for the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual challenges of the
long trail? More info is needed for the desert sections (example:
temperatures for April, May, June). Also, more info on night hiking is
needed. I think water caches are dangerous if everyone is relying on them.
Sometimes they are dry. I think the thru-hikers with AT experience are
better prepared than first time PCT thru-hikers.
        -  what helped you and why? Yogi's notebook was about 75% helpful.
ADZ was about 10% helpful. I would like to see the PCTA close and re-route
some extremely dangerous sections of trail when snow covered (example:
Sonora Pass).

There is so much that can be said about the benefits of time spent in
Wilderness. What did this experience do for you and what do you want to do
with it? Being my first long-distance hike, the PCT made me tougher and
taught me to be self-sufficient with less equipment. I learned to push
myself farther than I thought I could go. I developed more physical and
inner strength. It was great experience for my future hiking adventures.

A Thousand thanks!!!


For Information on Programs, previous Trips, and Photo Gallery,

Please visit: www.mountaineducation.com
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Jeff Singewald
  To: pct2006 at yahoogroups.com
  Sent: Sunday, September 24, 2006 8:32 PM
  Subject: [pct2006] Re: pct thru hike finishers


  When I finished on 9/6 I know of the following nobo thru-hike

  Scott Williamson
  Eric Dees
  Peaschur (sp?)
  Elevator (myself)

  Scott and Eric both turned around and headed southbound on yo-yo

  Additionally, I am aware of two other couples (Patience and Lico and
  Bluegrass and Scarecrow) that signed the Monument register, although
  there was mention elsewhere that they may have skipped a section of
  the Sierras. I only mention this as you asked about border to
  border, however, I do not have first hand knowledge.

  I know that since I finished I have heard from both you and Lint
  indicating you finished. I know that Lint went through the border
  fire closure on 9/10 without problem. I would suspect that Mike
  Mallory and Go-Go and Right Behind would have also finished sometime
  shortly after you and Lint.

  Keep in mind that we will not be able to use the monument register
  this year because the Tatoosh fire closed the border for a period of
  time and some folks have taken the detour and others have decided to
  call it done at Harts Pass.


  --- In pct2006 at yahoogroups.com, "karl jorgensen" <karlandpeggy at ...>
  > Does anyone know how many of the 006 class have finished the hike
  > border to border? Just interested. jorgy

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