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Lake Cecile to Iceberg Lake Incident, 03Aug2019

Posted: Mon Aug 05, 2019 12:05 pm
by J ney
This past Saturday my wife, Casey, and I were on a day hike to Lake Ediza & Volcanic Ridge in the Ansel Adams Wilderness. On our way down from Volcanic Ridge we ran into a woman we had seen earlier at Lake Ediza who was purposefully hiking up to Iceberg Lake... we chatted with her for a few minutes and she told us that she had seen a hiker descending from Lake Cecile to Iceberg Lake, lose footing, and tumble a couple of hundred feet down the snowfield before arresting and coming to a stop on some boulders. The hiker appeared to be out of sorts and may have been stuck so this woman and a friend were hiking up to Iceberg to activate a SPOT in case the hiker needed assistance. My wife and I volunteered to notify the rangers as well when possible since SPOT devices aren't always reliable. We exchanged details with the woman heading back up to Iceberg and hastily started hiking back to the car.
Casey and I called the Devil's Postpile ranger station as soon as we were below Shadow Lake to inform them of the situation, they relayed the information to Madera County SAR who called me for additional details. We heard nothing about the incident until Sunday afternoon when we learned that there were actually two hikers involved in the incident. One hiker had lost their footing, tumbled, and died instantly while the other hiker survived with only bruises. Madera County SAR retrieved the deceased yesterday and the woman we met on the trail was giving the survivor a lift back to LA.

Casey and I spent the ride back to the Bay Area reflecting on the events and grateful that we made it home safely from our excursions.

I'm writing to let folks know about the incident as there is still a lot of snow between Cecile and Iceberg and great care should be exercised if making that trip (and of course, having the right gear is essential). I haven't seen an official write up of the incident yet but I'll post it if i see it.

Re: Lake Cecile to Iceberg Lake Incident, 03Aug2019

Posted: Mon Aug 05, 2019 1:15 pm
by c9h13no3
Yeah, that snowfield going up to Cecile from Iceberg is legit hazardous. It's >35 degrees for most of the slope, and many hikers are trying to make a loop out of the trip to Minaret Lake that they're just not prepared for (myself included). Having climbed up it, I can't imagine going down without skis.

Re: Lake Cecile to Iceberg Lake Incident, 03Aug2019

Posted: Mon Aug 05, 2019 2:52 pm
by SSSdave
So sad to hear this but not at all surprised. May he/she RIP.


Below link 2/3 page down shows that route where I emphasized dangers of that section. From Iceberg the immediate peril for a long distance is sliding into Iceberg Lake which if so one could easily drown as the water is ice cold with the edge of snow extending into the deep lake waters without something to grab onto in order to pull oneself out. Without crampons or ice axe one needs to avoid the slope while the snow surface is still firm. ... _2006.html

Part of my reason for doing so was there were some with usual bravado that would make it sound like the route was no big them. Of course most did so during summers when the snowfield was not an issue. There tends to be a patch of too steep to negotiate without ice axe snow where the stream drops over the Cecile lip that covers up the normal climbing route. When one has to climb up around that patch on the nearby steep bedrock, it is class 3 with a long tumble possible.

Re: Lake Cecile to Iceberg Lake Incident, 03Aug2019

Posted: Wed Aug 07, 2019 7:19 am
by ulu859
The deceased was my brother, and the family is devastated. I would like to speak to the witness (J Ney) if possible. As a climber myself, I would like to know a few details that have not been provided by the sheriff. My email is If I could get your phone number, that would be greatly appreciated. I just created an account, and I don't see a pm function. Thank you.

Re: Lake Cecile to Iceberg Lake Incident, 03Aug2019

Posted: Wed Aug 07, 2019 7:53 am
by J ney
Email sent.

Sorry for your loss.

Re: Lake Cecile to Iceberg Lake Incident, 03Aug2019

Posted: Wed Aug 07, 2019 10:41 am
by Dave_Ayers
My deepest sympathy for your loss ulu.

That brings back nervous memories. Pops took me across that snowfield and back in July when I was 12 or 13 years old. Wearing Converse All-Stars without Ice Axe or any other equipment. More snow at that time than in Dave's pic. Definitely unnerving to say the least. I still have vivid memories of thinking what would happen if I slid out and ended up in the freezing water. Earned a man-card for sure. Cecile is beautiful with ice floes, but not worth the risk. I remember Dad joking that if the snow cornice above Cecile came down, we'd be goners.

I've only crossed it after snowmelt in all the years since, though we did come down in a thunderstorm once.

Re: Lake Cecile to Iceberg Lake Incident, 03Aug2019

Posted: Wed Aug 07, 2019 11:34 am
by maverick

Madeira Co Sheriff's Dept:
On August 3, 2019 shortly before 3:00pm, the Madera County Sheriff’s Communication Center received a call regarding a hiker near Iceburg Lake who had fallen. Terrence Casey, a 53-year-old man from Glendora, was crossing a ridge line above the lake. Casey lost his footing and fell down the snow covered mountainside. The subject did not have any safety equipment to stop his fall and fell about 200-300 feet. His hiking partner attempted to help him but also fell down the mountainside. When the hiking partner was able to safely reach him, he discovered his partner was deceased.

This location is not within cell phone service range, and was initially reported by other hikers who witnessed the fall from across the lake and reverted to an area with cell phone service. One of the reporting parties was a Search and Rescue volunteer from Ventura County Sheriff’s Office, who came to the aid of the hiking partner and provided detailed location information to MCSO Search and Rescue.

As soon as weather conditions permitted, Alpine Search and Rescue Members from the Mono County Sheriff’s Office and the California Highway Patrol Helicopter responded to the incident location and were able to recover the decedent.

We would like to remind anyone going on extended backpacking trips to be prepared with the proper gear for hiking and weather conditions. Iceburg Lake is on the East Side of the Sierra Crest just below Mount Ritter around 10,000 feet, and still has areas with snow. Regardless of your level of experience, always make a safety plan and let people know your hiking route.

We would like to thank the Mono County Sheriff’s Office and the California Highway Patrol for their assistance during this difficult mission. Our condolences go out to the family and friends of Casey and those affected by this tragic accident.