Heavy snows and high winds led to two men stranded in the Reds Meadow area. Mono Search and Rescue responded to distraught family and friends of two Valencia men, who had reportedly snowshoed into the back country from Tamarack Lodge. Heather Flebbe, a friend in Valencia, told us that the two men, Lee Szromba and Danny Trudeaux, are in their 50s. They planned to snowshoe in and snow camp Saturday with plans to come out Sunday afternoon. Search and Rescue crews did bring the two men out.
Friends did confirm that Mr. Szromba made it to a pay phone in Reds Meadow and called his daughter who reported the two men were fine, very hungry but stranded in Reds Meadow. Ms. Flebbe emailed us to say that the two men "are very lucky to be alive." She said that they learned the two men had hiked in on Saturday morning, but at some point during the night the weather turned into a fierce blizzard. That ripped their tent apart. They tried to hike out and became lost and disoriented for 13 hours. As Ms. Flebbe said, as if by the grace of God, they miraculously ended up back at the hot springs where they had been camping. This development may have saved their lives. They sat in the hot springs to stay warm. They stayed there from Sunday through Midnight Monday when rescuers finally reached them. Right before that, Mr. Szromba called relatives, hysterical and wondering if anyone would come to help them. Sear and Rescue made it in and started the hike out just before 5am this morning.
As Ms. Flebbe said, the two men's wives were not sure their husbands would live through this ordeal.
This emergency highlighted a major concern in the area – avalanches. The Eastern Sierra Avalanche Center issued a backcountry avalanche advisory. They call the avalanche danger "considerable" for today. They point out that the snow storm that has just moved through dropped lots of snow and wind conditions complicated matters. The Avalanche Center said that most avalanche accidents occur when the danger rating is considerable. The danger rating applies to all elevations from 8,000 Ft. up to the highest ridgetops.