A Tale of Two Coasts

A Mountaineer goes missing, A novice hiker triggers a SPOT beacon alert

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Search continues for Sierra Nevada climber

Forty four year-old San Diego mountaineer Rick Devan has been missing for 6 days in the region west of the Bishop Pass Trail and Treasure Lake in the California high country. An experienced mountain scrambler, Devan had climbed Mt. Goode (13,084, Class II). His last known point was Goode’s summit, where he signed the register on July 4th, saying he was continuing on to Mt. Johnson (12,871), about two miles to the northwest.

Goode and Johnson can be linked by a long Class IV ridge climb that crosses Trapezoid Peak. Authorities described the traverse as ‘loose and treacherous,’ while climbing websites call it ‘enjoyable.’ In typical Sierra Nevada ratings, Class III is often sketchy and exposed, while Class IV is decidedly airy. While neither rating demands tough individual climbing moves, loose rock, rain, snowmelt, and high winds can greatly affect the difficulty on any mountain route.

Both Goode and Johnson are known for their short approach distances from the popular South Lake/Bishop Pass trailhead, a major entry point for the Palisades/Dusy Basin region of the High Sierra. The search was triggered when Devan failed to rendezvous with family at Treasure Lake. He had enough supplies for an overnight trip. Given the short approach distances and popular access trails, it is unlikely that Devan is lost, and this unresolved incident has an ominous feel. The search continues with more than 11 agencies being involved.

Missing Hiker Found in the Shining Rock Wilderness

Twenty three year-old Michael Brechner activated a SPOT beacon “911 alert” while hiking on the Art Loeb Trail in North Carolina’s Shining Rock Wilderness. He was dropped off at the Black Balsam parking lot on the Blue Ridge Parkway on Tuesday, July 8th. The 911 transmission began before 7 a.m. on Wednesday, July 9th. Fourteen transmissions went out within an hour, all of them from the same place. In response to contacts from GEOS International Emergency Response Center, the private company that oversees SPOT 911 alerts, rescue teams began heading toward the signal coordinates.

Searchers basically hiked in from both ends of the steep, 11-mile track, which gains and loses 3,000 feet between the Black Balsalm parking lot and Daniel Boone Boy Scout Camp. They encountered Brechner just before 7 p.m., about a mile and a half from the camp. As of press time, the reason for his transmission is unknown, but Haywood County emergency coordinator Greg Shuping indicated the alert was intentional. The effort involved 50 people.