Framework

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Tim Esquivel, a member of the Yosemite National Park avalanche team, throws a rope down a rock face at Olmsted Point, where he and other team members will rappel down the granite.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times

Yosemite National Park road crews work to clear snow off Tioga Road. The snowpack in the Sierra Neveda this season was 178% of normal.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times

A damaged road sign from Yosemite National Park has been recycled into a digging tool for the park avalanche team at Olmsted Point.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times

Yosemite National Park avalanche team members Tim Esquivel, left, and Steve Lynds plant explosives on a steep granite dome in a severe avalanche area during blasting operations at Olmsted Point.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times

Steve Lynds, a member of the Yosemite National Park avalanche team, prepares charges for blasting operations at Olmsted Point.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times

Edward Canapary, a member of the Yosemite National Park avalanche team, prepares charges for blasting operations.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times

Members of the Yosemite National Park avalanche team plant explosives on a slide zone to spread charcoal during blasting operations at Olmsted Point. Charcoal blackens the snowpack and speeds melting of the snow on the steep granite slope.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times

Icicles melt on a granite ledge along the Tioga Road inside Yosemite National Park.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times

Edward Canapary a member of the Yosemite National Park avalanche team, puts up his tent on the Tioga Road at the Olmsted Point base camp where his team will conduct snow surveys and blasting operations.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times

Edward Canapary, Tim Esquivel and Steve Lynds, members of the Yosemite National Park avalanche team, head out in the early morning for blasting operations at Olmsted Point.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times

Edward Canapary, right, and Steve Lynds check out the evening's meal at their camp. The team brings a shipping container full of supplies in the fall, where it sits at Olmsted all winter until they arrive on or around April 15 the following spring.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times

A road sign is still buried by the winter snowfall on the Tioga Road in Yosemite National Park.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times

Tenaya Peak, right, towers over Tenaya Lake, left, in a view from the Yosemite National Park avalanche team's base camp at Olmsted Point.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times

Yosemite National Park road crews work to clear snow off Tioga Road, where the snowpack in the Sierra Neveda was 178% of normal.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times

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Clearing a mountain of snow off Tioga Road

The avalanche control team at Yosemite National Park first studies the mountains of snow along Tioga Road, then blows it up to open the road for summer’s throngs of motorists.

Plowing typically begins in mid-April with an eye toward opening the road before Memorial Day. This year, the work has been particularly daunting, and the route isn’t expected to be fully open for at least another week.

A wild winter left Yosemite with nearly twice its average snowpack — as much as 18 feet along Tioga Road, the most since 1995. Spring blizzards knocked out power to the park and surrounding towns and delayed the start of plowing. By the second week of May, much of Tioga Road inside the park remained entombed in wet, compacted snow.

Read Mike Anton’s story

2 Comments

  1. June 15, 2011, 9:05 am

    Brian: I enjoyed your very fine photography. Been hiking Yosemite and the eastern Sierra for 30+ years and this was new to me. Thanks!

    By: goslo100@gmail.com
  2. November 5, 2012, 5:42 pm

    With the thick snow, they'd be needing a good drilling and blasting equipment to clear the snow. But safety measures should be prioritized since it's not easy to do this kind of task.

    By: Booker Brass

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