Topic Author's Original Post - May 21, 2005 - 07:35pm PT
In 1977 a plane loaded with dope crashed into Lower Merced Pass Lake. I knew the pilot and his wife since high school. His wife and I are working on co-authoring a book about the incident. I am looking for anyone that can recall any stories about what went on in the area during the first few weeks following the crash. We are not looking to expose anyone, we are looking for stories to add to what we already knew happened up to that night.I have talked to a few ex park employees that were there at the time and have gotten their take on things. Anyone else?
WB, yeah there is so much more to the story as most stories have.
Tell ya what, I'm interested in hearing from anyone that has first hand stories about things that happened either by them or around them because of this crash. Anyone is welcome to email me with anything they have. They don't have to include their names, but if so, we'll certainly give them credit.
We are also looking for stories about what might have ended up in something good for people. You know, business that were started, colleges that were attended, that kind of thing. After almost 30 years we know there are lives that got a kick start from this thing, we'd love to hear about it.
What is the statute of limitations on possible crimes that might have been committed?
For instance, if someone found and sold the mary jane at that time, could they still be prosecuted now?
Well, believe it or not, one of my brothers was working a gate at Yosemite back then. Now he's in law enforcement and I'm seeing him today. I'll pose that question to him. Not to play legal eagle here, but its hard for me to believe almost 30 years later that it would still put people jeopardy. So, hold your breath and I'll report back. I'd bet a google search would yield that info as well for those that don't want to take my word.
And as far as a "Yellow Alert" goes. As I've said, we aren't even looking for names, just stories.
I can't imagine chiming in on this thread--so far as personal involvement goes--even though I've written around the topic several times, especially in Rock Jocks. Hiking for dollars we used to call it . . .
I have always been intrigued by that story and found most details in Lynn Hills' book, and knew that John Long had a connection to Cliffhanger, but didn't know Largo wrote about it as well (Rock Jocks?).
Geezo...yeah kinda. Rick and Ricky were already taken. As a kid in Japan in 1954, our house maids couldn't pronounce Little Ricky, so it I was named Rittle Licky. Stuck with me all of these years. Came in handy in college
Perhaps people who were or were not involved would rather the subject was laid to rest. The seventies were a crazy time. Todays young people may not understand the climate in which our heros made those decisions. If you tarnish the reputations of those people you :
hurt the sport of climbing
ruin peoples reputations
may put sombody in jail
enrage law enforcement who will now view climbers as criminals
dont even know these people
encourage young people to screw up
people died dealing drugs from that plane. Perhaps you and your friends should be held responsible for that... okay? If you destroy good peoples image as climbing heros by spreading nasty rumors about it, we the climbing community will hold you responsible. If you really were related to the pilot then screw all this secrecy stuff. Put YOUR NAME up there and tell us all who YOU are and who your friends were and what illegal stuff THEY did. Nobody appreciates what you are trying to do. Expose yourself if you want to tell a story.
Leave the rest of the rumors were they are: Ancient history and probably BAD BETA!
As it was posted, my name and phone number is posted. As for the real story, what I'm going after is what happened AFTER the crash. When we complete the book, what we can tell about, we will. We aren't out to trash anyone's reputation, real or imagined.
If you have something you'd like to contribute, you are welcomed to call me or email me. Names or nameless, either way works for me.
Chainsaw wrote that a book on this subject will "enrage law enforcement who will now view climbers as criminals." What rock have you been under for ever, the Rangers hate climbers and its been that way for decades. Besides why should you or anyone have a say about wife of this pilot to write a book, ever hear of the 1st amendment. Seems like this guy Rick has said he doesn't want to expose any sensitive info regarding names
Also your drool about destroying peoples reputations is a canard that is worth a laugh or two. Climbing heros??? Oh come on, go climb for yourself and forget the hero's you regard as special, they could care less about you. The empty threat that "we the climbing community will hold you responsible." Oh yeah? I was at the lake in '77 and have been climbing in the valley for over thirty years and I encourage Rick and the wife of this pilot to publish a book. The climbing "community" is full of small groups of disconnected people with many different ideas and goals. There hasn't been a "community" for at least twenty years.
Not to harp on chainsaw or others that don't want to hear the real history of a great time in Yosemite and elsewhere along with filling in the holes in this story people have been interested for decades, but this wasn't the crime of the century and it's the folks that benefitted from hiking for dollars are in no risk of loosing face or homes, businesses, or the freedom they may enjoy now. History told in full and as accurate as possible is one of the fruits of our freedom we should all cherish. Censored history is so mundane, this story has many exiting, insightful things that will blow some minds.
Anyone who has ever loitered in the Valley long enough knows the story of J.L. & the 'dope plane' legend of Yosemite. There is a lot more slander & mudslinging going on various threads on this site, than what Rick could ever put in that book of his. And more power to you Rick (or Licky!), for doing more than most and actually doing something than just talking about it.
Oh, and Ballaroama-so eloquent, and to the point. You rock! Give these heathens the slap of reality!
I just spoke with the pilot's wife. She said I can publish her name to make the conversation easier. Its Pam.
Pam and I agree that in the book we'll be telling as much as possible about the events that led up to the date of the crash as well as what went on afterward from her perspective. As I've been hearing, no one has yet to be able to talk about where the plane was coming from or going to. That will all be told. It'll open many eyes.
As I relate some of the recent stories to Pam, she is actually saying, "This is getting to be fun." I'm glad she can have this kind of feeling after all of this time.
Keep 'em coming. If you know people and want to tell them what we're doing, please pass on my name, phone number or email addy.
One funny tidbit from the lake during the frenzy. One guy was really new to the back-country having never set foot into the mountains in summer let alone winter, he didn't have a clue about how dangerous the ice was covering the lake. It was a week or so after it got really busy and he didn't know that many holes had already been cut and re-froze. He fell through the ice and was rescued by a Canadian that all at ST have heard of. Of course he didn't learn and fell through a couple times only to be rescued by myself and this famous valley climber that went on to write books that many here have read (not largo).
One more thing of interest is why there seems to be no FAA incident report for this crash. Did some of the LE that hauled their own loads before the general public found out cover-up this incident to cover their take ?? Did the DEA-FBI-NPSLE cover-up some of their shady activity?? Wouldn't be the first time we've heard of such stuff.
And just to set things straight, Jack Dorn wasn't murdered, he fell off the YFT to his death in an accident unrelated to the plane and the little black book. Jack was a really good guy and I miss him as much as I miss Yabo.
Rick, when you talk to some of the people who visited the lake…. Get the lowdown on John Yablonsky. He is a climbing legend smiling down on us from climber heaven (bountiful virgin girls and virgin walls I am sure), and one of the legends I heard… John was always 2 dimes short of a quarter and for years lived off his wits plus the generosity of others. So Yabo being perhaps the most penniless of the poor, his “post airplane weed" shift in income bracket was seismic. He soon was decked out in the best and latest of outdoor gear.
Where my memory gets murky is the events that lead up to his loss said swag. The story I recall; he was hitchhiking (valley to LA or whatever). Got picked up by a car full of low-lives…… got a bad vibe that they meant him harm, so he dives from the moving vehicle and boogies full tilt. But… I also heard, read, recall something about a stolen VW bus with all his life possessions … later found burnt to a husk and empty. Fish or Viva Elvis prob know which is the true story …
It was recovered but it was deemed illegible by the Feds.
What did it contain? Names, addresses, dates, money owed, money paid. All encrypted (remember, not too many people running around with high end laptops back in the mid-70's. Many wanted the book, but the Feds ended up with it.
As I remember, the plane took off from Yosemite West and was flying a big loop back to Yosemite West just to fool the FAA, DEA, NPS, CHP, SPCA and all the rest. Seemed to work as nobody would suspect this. All the weed was grown up on Michaels Ledge and Lay Lady Ledge and was moved by bicycle up to the West for packaging. This might be the first time the truth has ever been written. I hope it does not get anyone in trouble.
I think all the bike registration was in the black book. This will be a tough one to sort out. What is the statute of limitations on bike registration? Plus, I bet a few of those bikes were stolen from the Ice Cream Stand at the lodge. Hmmmmm....
We worried that we didn't have a license for the 1,500 lamas that were going to be used to outpack the shredded wheat rolls. The plan was to air drop them the next morning in packs of six...Lama six packs!
I saw the whole thing unravel from the very, very begining before anybody out there knew anything. But I'm not talking until I get ok from the original guys ........and that's that. Actually the original crew should do the talking if anybody. I wouldn't be throwing peoples names around here either, just bad style unless you were there.
I was there from the very begining and the crew that you think were the first to see and remove anything were NOT the usual suspects posted above. And I would have agree with Werner, don't post names because it's really lame, hot rats eat 44 bullets for breakfast.
Besides the fact that there were many more players than even the players could imagine, parts of the story should not ever be published.
The incident inspired fiction beyond Largo's "premise" and the awful Cliffhanger. Jeff Long's fantastic (literally) novel Angels of Light, and the Nevada Barr mystery High Country, come to mind. Other examples?
30 years later I cant imagine anyone going to jail unless a more serious crime was involved other than distributing drugs and destroying peoples lives to turn a quick buck because one was too lazy to get a real job. Come on, a good report of the story would be interesting to read. Everyone knows there are people in all walks of life who try to cut corners and make a quick buck. If theyre afraid of being exposed as such maybe they should have thought twice before doing it. I cant wait for the book Licky! Good luck! Lets see who out there got their start the good old fashioned way, through Illegal activities!
Nerdie, don't be so quick to jump. (no pun intended). So far over half a dozen people have agreed to tell their stories so we can publish this book. Pam and I will be telling the entire story about how the plane got to that point, the gang that were there then will tell theirs, and we'll also tell about what went on after the crash as far as the investigation, lawsuits, and such.
To be honest, most have stepped forward with a hell of a lot of enthusiasm. No one seems to be holding back. When I post some of the things that I do, its to let people know that I'm not blow'n smoke here.
So far there are almost a dozen people that have agreed to interviews. The stories from many have been absolutly enlightening, not to mention funny as hell. I appreciate everyone that is coming forward, I'm sure more will in the next few weeks.
Rick- It was fun talking about this with you tonight.
Something good comes from everything.
From the devastating tragedy of Pam loosing her husband (and you your friend), came a summer of wealth and good spirits in the valley. It warms me that she (and you) can now write a book, and then perhaps close another volume in the encyclopedia of healing.
This book is a noble effort, and I encourage people to contribute.
That summer in the valley was one of my best. Half Dome with Mark. The river. Ballaroama and WB, I think we shared some happy ropes too. Bouldering with Yabo. And my friend who was on the initial find, but whom I wasn't to climb with until a year later in another state- we then realized we had honored the crashweed together a lot in C4. With Yabo, of course.
But both of the latter have long since deceased. They are missed. Still, I can even now conjure an image of Yabos bizarre fascial contortions while he cranked some hard boulders; the sound of pine needles crunching as he decks. Back when "spotters" were the guys who sat rolling, rather than holding their arms up under guys' butts as in these days.
This should be a good book, lots of input from those involved I hope.
I just heard an interesting story about a couple of guys from Yosemite that had attempted to go to Chamonix only to get hung up in a bordello in Bourdeux and ended up refocusing their attention to the point of spending everything they had.
Well I guess some folks dont understand what I mean. One person said that erasing history will cause young people to idolize these "strung out" climbers. Just the opposite, fool. The kids already idolize them, not necessarily a good thing or my fault. But since Lynn Hill and John Long are huge icons in climbing, to portray them as drug dealers and addicts is definately encouraging kids to try that path. Very likely the people involved may have never done any of the things you assume. Ugly rumors are not history. But if one of my kids trys pot or gets hurt because of your stupid book..... Again I say, write a book about what YOU did and expose yourself, not others. Are you a climber or just a muckraker? Or a con artist looking to get leverage against people I care about? Do the climbing community a favor: LEAVE.
Dear Licky, Your knowlege of the details of this "incident" suggests that you were involved with organized crime which has no statute of limitations. Furtheremore, your assets gained by criminal acts can be seized by the federal government at any time, without trial, indefinately after the fact. Also, your income tax evasion will lead to the same. Are you ready to answer alot of questions? Keep it up bud, we're keeping tabs on you. PS: watch out Largo, you're getting worked!
Hey Ballorama, your reply makes my point for me. If you think modern contemporaries will find reason in your argument that "pot took the edge off the acid" then spout on. And I'm not impressed that you have been in the valley for 30 years. That just means that you are still living in the 70's. I think I know who you are and you look like you have a lot of mileage. Drugs have messed up your mind. Who knows what you could have been if you hadnt wasted your life getting high. Are you really even experiencing climbing? Drugged out and anesthetized, I doubt you have the courage to climb without the cruch. What do your wife and kids think of your drug habit? Or did you miss out on that part of life, getting high instead. Rock on Ballorama, honestly I can relate to your sentiment having been a drugged out looser myself some 17 years ago. Funny thing is I grew up and got sober. I feel really sorry for you. But keep on promoting Licky's stupid ideas. Your support does him more damage than my criticism ever could.
The staute of limitations on felony drug charges is three years. If there are murder charges then there is no statute of limitation. If you have concerns about your situation please feel free to call me at (619) 743-0121 or email me directly. I am a criminal defense Lawyer. My primary practise is Federal drug crimes in southern California.
maybe I am a tool. The fact is licky can publish whatever he wants. Total hypocracy it is for some to wave the first ammendment at me. I never said he couldnt write these things. I merely expressed my and others opinions and frustration. Evidently those who have minority opinions are not allowed to speak them by your version of the constitution. I am brave enough to speak my mind regardless of what you think. I am not a sheep who follows people he is scared of. I have my own opinions and I am not afraid to be the only one to oppose lickys stupid book. And shame on this Pam lady for trying to profit from her husbands death. In my tradition, the dead are left in peace.
i heard a story about a guy nicknamed "chainsaw" ... he was the first guy to think of shelpping one in to the lake... he's legendary even. ..made 3 carries... .. spun his ill-gotten gains into stocks. . funded him on a first ascent spree that lasted near a decade...
chainsaw: "But if one of my kids trys pot or gets hurt because of your stupid book....."
sounds like you have more serious parenting issues if your kids are so fragile as to be tempted by such a book into doing stupid stuff. there are plenty of more compelling opportunities in their faces every day than a book about some old dudes they don't care about. then again, if the book is about you, you have some 'splaining to do! hard to walk the 'do as I say not as I do' rope as a parent.
spend more time building relationships with them and helping them form a strong independent identity, rather than trying to stop the creation of every temptation in the world. if your parenting is in any way similar to your forum exhortations, you are probably setting your kids up to lack judgment skills that they will need when presented with the very situations you are concerned about.
Here is what I heard, about 14th hand, about the first few days after the crash.....
The plane went in around Christmas 1976. Some hikers spotted it and let the NPS know. They hiked up there to do something about it but were caught in a big blizzard and almost died. They decided to wait until spring. A seasonal ranger, who was also a climber, heard about what had happened and then the fun began.
Some other tidbits that I expereinced in the spring 1977 first hand.
I remember the US Customs finally going up to the lake and using helicopters and divers to do a lot of the recovery (of what was left!). I just had to pimp these guys a bit and talked to some of them in El Cap Meadow (where the choppers landed). The Customs guys told me they were doing "training" up in the mountains.
Maybe my memory is fading a bit, but I swear this happened. When the Customs folks realized what had happened, they decided to try and infiltrate Camp 4 and get some information. I remember one guy wearing lederhosen, a grean felt hat and klunky mountain boots coming up to me and asking where he could get some "stuff". It was like a bad "Get Smart" episode!
Whatever chainsaw, yawn. I could care less what you think of me and I'll bet you don't know who I am. Do you really care? I love the part about the wife and kids, yeah, if you don't have a family your a looser. Go preach somewhere else jackass.
edit: just tried to call Rob Trelford - aka chainsaw, and the schmuck hung up on me. With a little research I found he is a coach for USA climbing and the bad influence on the kids he coaches maybe has something to do with his worry about the book.
Piss off Rob. Saw a photo of you on the web and can assure you we have never met. I am in the Valley right now if you wish to talk. Come on up and see me!
But with the idiotic slander you spewed my direction is pretty funny stuff. So all your slander must be directed at the person you assume me to be. I haven't consumed any recreational drugs for more than a decade Rob and for someone that coaches children you should be ashamed of yourself for spewing divisive garbage that increases the chances of your of your students becoming idiots like you. Rob Mr.USA CLIMBING, you should hold yourself to a higher standard when you preach your pathetic gospel. For the guy that posted something about "hero's" your blather is really funny because some of these hero's of yours were big time drug addicts as opposed to myself.
Chainsaw was that one crazy mofu-cker waving that saw around when he accidentally sawed half his head open. Guys came running over and had to stuff his brains back in and use a speedy stitcher to sew him back up, as the story goes.
Chainsaw is Rob Trelford from USA climbing so his ranting about "were watching you" is very interesting. Is USA climbing a Law Enforcement agency Rob? Just wondering if you teach those gym rats to be rats???? You suck Rob and though I haven't met you like you think, I know know who you are now and I can't wait to have a word with you in person. Piss off coach bitch and pull on some plastic while you pull your pudd chump.
Can't help but add a few things about ROB TREFOLDS mentoring of kids at USA Climbing. Here is a guy that obviously thinks we should hide the truth from developing minds when of course the truth shall set them free. Bastardized history should be used for birdcage liner not the propaganda tool for christo-fascist bigots like you. In the words of Bob Marley "Tell the children the truth". If you were worthy mentor you would a better understanding of history. So what if this book gets published, Rick has already stated he has no plans on exposing names (scroll up) so I don't know what you are worried about. Maybe you want all youth to be singing Onward Christian Soldiers along with you cause it makes you feel good??
Alright I give up. I'm sick of dealing with you. The forum was supposed to be for discussing ideas and opinions. Not for hunting down and harrassing people. Calling me at home was a very bad idea as is lickys book. Do not ever contact me again or I will take legal action against you. I have nothing to do with what happened at the lake, but it continues to haunt the entire climbing community. A dark specter to be erased, not glorified.
And yes I am a USA Climbing coach. At USAC we discourage drug use and the self destructive mentality that goes with it. You are the one with bad judgement, not me. I have stood up and spoken out against drug use by climbers and against glorifying the stupid things people did in the seventies. My strongest climber and gymnast just washed up because she got sucked into her mother's crank and coke world. Tragic. It is easy to say that diluting the temptation out of their world doesnt help. Perhaps you are right. But when you loose your loved ones to jails institutions and death it leaves one pretty upset and wanting to do something about it.
And you can call it co-dependance if you like. All that idealistic crap about letting go sucks. It is easy to say but impossible to live. Yea maybe my mind is messed up from all the suffering that sh#t has caused me and others. I lost my mother and a sister to drugs. My mother is a hardcore valium addict. My oldest sister died recently of a heroin overdose in Canada. Her husband was a dealer. Another personal friend of mine was likely killed in Humbolt last year over a deal gone bad. No-one knows what happened to him but the FBI would like to know. This is not a f*#king game people.
Stop what you are doing and think about the consequences. Of the thousands of young people who will read this book if even one chooses to "try this at home" then it was not worth it. Take responsibility for your actions. And I can see your rhetoric coming; "well why dont you take responsibility for your own sh#t, chainsaw, and stop blaming others?" The fact is I was the helpless unwilling child who had no choice but to live with that sh#t for ten awful years. And yes it f*#ked me up bad. Maybe I am crazy. I would do anything to take it back but I cant. I would do anything to save even one child from the suffering I have known at the hands of addiction. And I do not have any children of my own because of it. I am the looser with no family because drugs destroyed it. And then I chose to follow in the footsteps of my heros at the time. Unfortunately they were pop culture icons and musicians. Their influence led me down the path to destruction. Since then I have earned two degrees, I have a masters and I work as a biology professor. I have pulled myself up out of the dark and taken responsibility. I am the one in nine who makes it back from where I went. The other eight are dead and gone.
I coach a climbing team of kids who need my help to stay straight. I help other peoples kids deal with alot of problems their parents cant even begin to understand. I have learned that the Davis junior highs now have heroin and cocaine sold there. My kids tell me the things their parents couldnt hear. I know what they are dealing with and I shudder everytime another one goes down the tube.
Its funny how people have so much hatred and anger towards me just for my opinion. Can it be that in your heart you know that what I say is true? Furthermore, if you dont care what I think then why did you violate the privacy of my handle and call me at home? That kind of action is taking things too far. If you dont like what I have to say then dont read it. Calling me at home and threatening me is outrageoous. And you say "I have not done recreational drugs in ten years" If you have actually cleaned up your act then why do you support the glorification of something you yourself have finally accepted as wrong. I know my delivery is pretty confrontational. Just remember this famous quote; The truth is first disregarded as nonsense, then violently opposed and finally accepted as self evident. In my mind what I have said is very self evident. All the deaths and problems associated with the lake incident make it pretty clear. If you want to continue to violently oppose what I have said then go ahead but I will not be listening. As of right now I am dropping out of the forum and discontinuing my supertopo membership. I am not interested in associating with people like licky and balloramma and so far that is what I have found on that site.
I do know of one climber from Davis who would hopefully support what I have said. She was smart enough to stay out of drugs, unlike many of her cohorts at that little gym. Where are you Beth?
Fair enough Rob, and my condolences about your family members and others you know that have died due to drugs. I will not call you again as well, no worries but I couldn't help it knowing all along who you were. You stepped into the forum and look what happened, you got called on your BS. Don't imply threats have been offered by me, not so. Unless you consider wishing to talk it over a threat.
Alright ballaroama. I apologize. You have a right to your opinion. But publishing my name while you remain annonymous is cowardly and disrespects the spirit of the forum. People may wish to be annonymous so they can speak honestly. Now I am afraid to speak honestly about anything because you had the nerve to call me at home. And trust me, you do not want to meet me in person. Incidentally, Bob Marley whom you quote died untimely of lung cancer related to his overuse of pot. Didnt you know that? If I am to tell the children the truth as I see it, then I say the truth is :dont do drugs. they destroy people. that is the dark side. If you do drugs your life will be affected in ways you cannot understand until it is too late. And as far as barging into the forum, that is what it is for. And everything in it is pretty much venting and BS. calling me at home means that you obviously take it too seriously. Now i am taking it very seriously because you threatened me. And why do you hate Christians so much? My opinion has nothing to do with it. I dont believe in churches and all their dogma. seventeen years ago I would have actually argued in favor of your point of view. but life lessons, not dogma are what I base my opinions on.
Anyway, truce okay? I will gladly listen to what you have to say as you have done for me and I respect that. Sorry if my emotions got away from me. But when your loved ones die, it changes you forever. I will never recover from what happened to me. All I can do now is try to help others avoid that. And as far as the gym rat stuff goes, you are way off. My kids are becoming trad leaders like me. I was a professional arborist for a long time and I've had my share of close calls. If I were stoned when those things happened I would have gotten killed many times over. Climbing at the level I do outdoors requires 100 percent of my focus and I cannot afford to be high. It might not even be me who dies as a result of my own stupidity if I were to climb stoned. Guiding children in the outdoors is not something for stoned people to do. And what would their parents think? They have a right to know that their kids are safe. I am their protector. Why do you think I reacted the way i did? i see this book as a threat to their welfare.
I guess I will stay in the forum a bit longer to see if we can resolve at least not to do anything stupid. OKAY?
This book is a threat to peoples welfare? Glorification? "But if one of my kids trys pot or gets hurt because of your stupid book"
Holy Moly do always put the blame on everything outside of you? This whole world is a nut house and it’s your job to educate to differentiate between right and wrong. You’re the scary guy Chainsaw, what kinda name is that? I had visions of that crazy mofu-cker in that movie with that chainsaw. Plus you came in here anonymous. An upstanding citizen like you shouldn’t be hiding behind some wall? You should’ve been in the clear since day one and spoke your drool.
Command the respect that you deserve!
I’m not hiding anywhere, I use my real identity. Then you threaten Largo wtf is wrong with you man. Now Ballaroama I have a good idea who he is, smart dude to be able to pull you out of the hat like that. He published your name because you started the original threats. Largo isn’t hiding either. And your teaching our future generation with this kind of display?
Ok …. You’re forgiven we all are screw-ups at times.
Looking forward to a more super-dialog.
I apologize as well and some of the things I posted were out of line as was calling you. I think the point you make is valid and I was wrong to say you are a lousy mentor, it's obvious your a good person. What we disagree on about publishing this book is kinda out of our hands and I know your concern but i still think it would be a great story for many. I wasn't calling you to make a threat, I really did wish to have a conversation about how you though you knew me. Enough of that jive, I think we can agree to have opinions about this book that are not going to mesh with one another. Sorry again for stepping over the line, it wasn't meant to be as nasty as some here think, SPICY THREADS GET ATTENTION DON'T THEY!!
Bashing religion is in bad taste and I have my reasons for disliking some christians. I don't know you so what i said was really awful and I apologize.
Make no doubt about it -- this is the best thread I've seen in ages.
Very entertaining on many different levels. Since I've been the victim of internet
stalkers--which led me to coin the legendary Internet Bitches™
moniker--it really got my attention when I saw this:
Dear Licky, Your knowlege of the details of this "incident" suggests that you were involved with organized crime which has no statute of limitations. Furtheremore, your assets gained by criminal acts can be seized by the federal government at any time, without trial, indefinately after the fact. Also, your income tax evasion will lead to the same. Are you ready to answer alot of questions? Keep it up bud, we're keeping tabs on you. PS: watch out Largo, you're getting worked!
Chainsaw, I think you have fairly redeemed yourself with your subsequent, heart-felt posts.
But if something like the above was directed at me--I probably would have done the same.
(as in contacting you to have a man-to-man talk--at least on the phone)
While I can understand your sentiment, I think you are projecting way too much.
It's funny when pot gets lumped into the "drugs" category, while nothing is said
about alcohol, which is profoundly more damaging on so many different levels.
(however, I'm doing rather well on 2 to 4 beers a day, thank you very much)
I admire your passion in trying to be a positive influence in kids lives,
and trying to show them a better way. The 30-year old Plane Crash story
isn't glorifying drugs in my humble opinion--it's about a bunch of folks
living at the sub-poverty level who were lucky enough to be in the right place
at the right time when a once-in-a-lifetime manna rained down from the heavens--
and made life easier for a bunch of folks. If someone actually died later in some
way related to this, well, that's life in the big city. People die every day over much
more mundane things, such as stupid road-rage incidents.
The OP has made it quite clear that he isn't naming names, FWIW.
There's obviously a lot of interest in this story; it ain't gonna go away.
Anyway, thanks for what you do. You should be proud.
Chainsaw wrote: "Bob Marley whom you quote died untimely of lung cancer related to his overuse of pot. Didnt you know that?"
Probably not relevant to the discussion, but for all those who may care or be curious, I am 99% sure Bob Marley actually died of brain cancer. The form of cancer he had was malignant melanoma – and if the story I remember is correct, doctors originally found cancer cells on one of his big toes - it started out as skin cancer and then spread.
Chainsaw how about teaching your kids about potential consequences for their actions. If I remember right a whole generation of kids were real upset about being lied to and having information withheld from them. Seems a lot of these young people rebelled by turning to drugs and other illegal activities. DONT make the same mistakes our parents made!
By the way this activity does not reach the threshhold for ongoing criminal enterprise. Worse case senerio it is a conspiracy which has a 5 year statute of limitations. There is also no nexis 25 years later for criminal forfieture.
So I was gonna keep my trap shut about this post UNTIL...... Chainsaw - above you mentioned that Bob Marley died of lung cancer from smoking pot.
You realize thats completely wrong right? He got cancer in his big toe, left it untreated and it spread to his brain.
If I recall correctly, the boo had a special taste, feel to it: All shake, powerful expansion with overtones of lake water and 110 octane av-gas, Very nice.
Go write your book, please do a good job, I will buy one.
Especial good day to Werner and John. I am happy to see that you are both still vertical. The last few years have been hard on our ranks. Ya'll probibly won't know my name, but in the old days I was a camp 4 bum and a Curry employee for a few seasons. I used to watch Werner and Dale boulder for the tourists, and had a couple interactions with JL, but I was a second string climber who had only love of sport for support, and no real friends in the rescue camps.
I think a fuller accounting of the Merced Lake crash would be interesting.
I heard different stories about the notebook, and other details. Many of the guys are dead, maybe too many. How do you figure artucurial statistics when the population is a bunch of daring, mind numbingly courageous climbers?
My consolation to the woman for the loss of her husband, the pilot. Its been many years, but a loss like that never goes away. There is always the questions of how lives would have been different had it not happened. He must have been a very brave man, and as independant a man as ever walked, to be willing to actually do what he did. Part of who I am came from that incident, and part of the education that I was able to give myself, too.
Some boneheads can get high and cause problems, then when called on the carpet, take the easy way out and blame the ganga, which is what THE MAN ALWAYS wants to hear. Idiots often want to get high, but its not the drug that makes them idiots. Meth may be the exception to that rule. But screwed up people who get high and do stupid things were screwed up before they got high. People who are straight in the head have nothing to fear from pot, unless its the persecution the law provides to anyone caught doing it. Interesting related thread on Fascism in here somewhere.
I too, will buy the book, of course.
Cliffhanger had nothing to do with the planecrash, as far as I could see. Dont know about Angels of Light. But there are still words to be written about the Merced Lake crash and following occurances, I thought about writing it myself. But I am not sure how to wrap it all up (especially how the ensuing events affected so many lives) and I didnt have the incredible advantage of being able to interview the crews family.
I obviously cannot add to the story of the end of Jacks life, but I can add a little background.
To the poster who said that Jack was murdered, and the one who said he walked off the YFT.
Jack and I knew each other by sight, and Jack would talk to me, which many of the stonemaster types would not. This is not unusual, many people who meet me dont like me, and the first tier types kept their distance (or so I thought from the margins of the center of the climbing world), but the second tier types would occasionally hang out. I did some silly stuff with various groups of campers at various times, like mass assents of multi pitch easy(ier) climbs, solo unroped but in a long line on the routes, etc.
He was well known for getting up early and taking a run before the day got properly started. Usually up the YFT, or the 4 mile trail to GP. That year Jack probibly made more trips up the YFT than anyone else, and knew the trail better than anyone. Yet when he died, the rumors said no one heard a sound, that he wasnt even missed until the group (a rescue team?) topped out. I was told that the group turned back before getting to the top of Cap, that the rescue was called off? In camp, it was considered extremely unlikely that HE wandered off the trial without a sound. There were many who believed he was helped. But of course it would have to have been someone up there with him. People tended to get very quiet about here. The answer may never be known, but digging into the story would be fascinating.
My hearing on the story of the notebook, memory is not really good here, nothing was ever collaborated by a second source, was that the book was found and inspected. No word was ever said that it was illegible. I heard that someone had burned the book, another that it had been "torn up and dispatched to the four winds", maybe by Yabo? I always thought that the book survived, but never heard that the authorities got it.
So I didnt see a lot of the fallout, or tie into one of the sudden expeditions that was financed so suddenly, my loss. Maybe with a little encouragement, and a partner who could lead better than I could (a luxury I never, ever had),
Jack was drunk that night just like I was except he decided to hike up the trail and I didn’t because I knew I was hosed. The party in question was on the Yosemite Point Buttress not El Cap. They got caught in the dark and wanted off.
He walked off the trail man because he was drunk! Nobody pushed him for crying out loud. It was that stupid dumb ass who wrote that first book Angels of WTF it’s called. He asked me a bunch of questions when he was researching stories for his book. He told me it was going to be semi fiction. He started all those idiotic rumors about Jack. He told me he was going to write it like that.
I can show anyone the exact spot and you’ll see very quickly how someone, not even intoxicated, can easily walk off the trail, what to speak of being hammered. It was night time and late.
I truely appreciate your being willing to tell us (me) what actually happened to Jack. And for being so straight up about it. No bullsh#t. I have thought about him throughout the time since it happened.
I have made at least a couple dozen trips up the YFT, myself, and when I think about it, I think I know where it must have happened. The trail goes sandy along a ledge system, then switches back. I remember thinking occasionally how easy it would be to drop off a very long ways there.
Nobody in the camp I talked to ever wanted to believe anyone would kill Jack, after all, all the people on the trip up were well known, and liked, for the most part. But everyone was afraid that money from the backers of the plane might be enough to buy a climber, and ensure the safety of the information it was assumed was contained in the black book. Even after all this time, something in me is relieved to know the truth.
The times then were very wild, and the truth of what was happening was so outrageous that it became almost impossible to tell at the time what was real, and what was fantasy. Planes falling out of the sky into ice covered lakes miles from anywhere, black books, tons of dope, cash and Coke found in the pockets of leather jackets, dead men, living the whole Gold Rush thing. And this was the reality! The fantasy of it all proved a much easier to swallow story than the truth.
Anyway, thanks for helping me clean out my closets.
WHEN I FOUND THE WEED IN LATE 76, IT WAS GOOD DAY. I HAD JUST COME OFF OF THE FIRST UNREPORTED FREE ASCENT OF THE ZOD (IN WINTER MIND YOU - PORTER WAS A PUSSY) AND, BEING THE HARDMAN I AM, DECIDED TO HIKE OUT THROUGH THE MEADOWS FOR SPORT. I SAW THE PLAN OVERHEAD AND DECIDED IT WOULD BE A GOOD TIME FOR A SMOKE BREAK. AS I LIT MY MOSTER DOOBIE TO TAKE THE EDGE OFF OF THE ACID, MY ZIPPO CAUGHT THE SUNS RAYS AND APPARENTLY FLASHED A BLINDING LIGHT AT THE PILOT BECAUSE IT WAS AT THIS TIME THE PLAN CAME NOSE DIVING DOWN. WHEN THE PLANE HIT, THERE WAS CARNAGE EVERYWHERE (OH YEAH, CONDOLENCES TO YOU AND YOURS). I WAS DEVISTATED BUT ONLY FOR A TIME. AFTER TRAVERSING THE FROZEN POND, AND FINDING NO SURVIORS, I STARTED TO HEAD BACK. HOWEVER, A LARGE TRASH BAG FULL OF WEED CAUGHT MY EYE. NOW I WAS HAPPY. I LOADED THE WEED INTO MY HAULBAG (ACTUALLY IT WAS A MAIL BAG) AND STARTED TO HIKE OUT. IT WAS THEN I SAW THE BLACK BOOK, WHICH I TOOK WITH ME AND STILL HAVE TO THIS DAY. (I USE IT TO BLACKMAIL PEOPLE DUE TO THE STATUE OF LIMITATION NOT BEING UP YET). ANYHOW, I HIKED BACK DOWN TO CAMP 4 AND SOLD AND SMOKED ALOT OF IT. I DON'T KNOW WHAT I DID WITH THE MONEY I MADE FROM THE WEED. I KNOW I BOUGHT SOME GEAR, SOME PUSSY AND SOME BEER WITH IT. THAT IS ABOUT ALL I REMEMBER FROM 1977. I DO THINK I HAD A GOOD TIME, BUT DON'T REALLY KNOW. I DO KNOW THAT I DIDN'T START A BUSINESS, USE THE MONEY FOR COLLEGE OR DO ANYTHING PRODUCTIVE WITH IT - I GUESS YOU COULD SAY THAT WEED RUINED MY LIFE. I WISHED I HAD THE FORESIGHT TO HAVE STARTED USA CLIMBING AS THAT PROBABLY WOULD HAVE SAVED ME.
THE LAST BASTION OF THE SERIOUS WEED SMOKER OF 77.
Burt- Good to hear from you! What have you been doing lately? I was thinking about doing some early season training. I was thinking of girdling every mountian in the Himalayans in a single push, alpine style. My question is this: I was planning on taking two hard boiled eggs with me. Does this mean I'm light?
Also, the next day, I might check out the Karakorum. Is there anything worth doing in that choss heap of a mountain range?
Maybe I'll see you out there.
Wow! I really pissed alot of people off. I guess that is what I wanted but when you ask for something you get it. Now I regret my actions and respectfully apollogize to all, especially to ballaroama who was a better man than I for his sincere apologies and willingness to get along with me. I was really mad about the subject when I wrote about it and I should have just chilled. Maybe I am a bit sick in the head after all I went through with drugs and pot. I have now posted a reply to "Airplane book one" about my understanding of what happened. My information comes from people who live in columbia and worked with me at the high sierra music festival in bear valley ca. I was the trash and recycling director there from 1997 to 1999. I've picked up and dug through alot of trash in my time so this stuff is very familliar. Sometimes writing into a computer screen doesnt feel like personal communication so I just vented, not considering the feelings of people who received my lambasts. Inexcusible. Oh well, cant take it back... like too many things I've done.
and about johns books; I never will stop teaching with those books. His writings on climbing have been a huge inspiration and his words of wisdom may be why I survived this long as a climber. If anyone thought I was trying to call him a "drug dealer" I mean just the opposite. I feel that lickys book is what does that and hense my anger and frustration.
And to you Largo, I am sorry I spoke on your behalf thinking I was protecting you. You dont need my help and choose your own destiny. I have no right to expect you to set a good example but I hope you continue to do so and avoid all this mud that is slinging around the subject of weed.
Chainsaw; Everyone is just exhibiting the ability of their alter-egos to emit 5' flames. (A common enough superpower these days. But you should see me end a thread!) But you're wrong, you can take it back! due to the interesting techknology. of this forum, you can just edit out any ol' thing you wrote. Change the past.
To whoever is the moderator, how do you feel about this kind of editing? I found it interesting yesterday,I removed a little extraneous text, but am wondering why I didnt keep a copy of the original prose. What are the backup schedules, and the facilities for the recovery of modified documents? specifically can you retrieve old posts as they were before Modification?
Looks like the moderator dosnt look over here very often. Kinda dusty under the HTML. Is there a location that explains the basics of this forums usage and rules?
Hello? ...there were people over here just a little while ago...
It appears that Chainsaw has calmed down as everyone else. I have to say I appreciate both the support and the level headedness that most used during this past flame (out).
Just an up date for those that have been following this thread.
I've just recieved a CD containing photos of the crash site. These images were taken by the investigating crew and are now public domain. Very interesting stuff. Some of the images show the lake with holes cut into it with chainsaws. Who0 would have thunked?
Interesting, I just got an email from a howard who says he is forwarding my post about jupiter to the sherrif dept. so much for your fantasy of open conversations...I told you this would happen! I really dont care what he does since it is all just rumor...be careful what you say....there are others watching. And it is amazing how well a bit of fantasy misinformation threw everybody off the trail of JL and LH. I guess my plan worked, although it sucks being the one to take a fall for the team. That is always my job. I guess that is why I am the coach.
That is why I removed a few paragraphs from my posts. Maybe the mouse in me is paranoid, but I realized that I had posted details (in order to establish a little "street cred"), that could be used against people, or to identify a timeline.
Btw, my "team" chopped 3-4 4'x6' holes in the ice with a ax we found on-site,(probibly stolen from a fire cache box), in a checkerboard pattern, near the nose cone. I heard someone brought a chainsaw up to the site, but I think some of the holes he was credited with were ours, done more laboriously. Say, anyone run into a little, itty-bitty French (Canadian?)guy with a HUGE buddy? I was impressed with what coordination and speed those two worked, opening up a hole and splitting in less time than it took us to drain and load ours. They were a HOOT!
Should I recreate my original posts? I'm pretty sure nothing here can be used against anybody, but my inner mouse says "HIDE...The big things eat little things". I am going to ask my attorney this evening what he thinks, when I hand him the trunkload of guns the local police have been looking for. (I try to co-operate when possible). Morals are SO situational.
But, just for giggles, are there others holding back because of fear they cant hide their true identities? I may have to abandon "Rokjox" in the future as it may eventually be traceable at some future time, if I say something traceable. I am already wishing I hadnt posted my town, Its too small a community, and I dont want some super moralistic jackass forwarding my emails to local authorities. I have enough troubles already, to be answering to someone for something 28 years ago, or have "the eye" placed on me on the assumption that I havnt changed much in the last few decades. Although they may be right. None of the personalities I can identify here seem to have changed very much either. Did anybody print off the posts before I modified them?
If so, send them to me, as I didnt think to before I edited them, and I would like a record as to exactly what I said.
It was a blast, and still is. Anyway, read fast, I may take this all back.
I lost track of this thread but glossed through it just now and wonder how the thing heated up so. I lost interest in the whole plane thing not because it wasn't interesting at the time, but because it happened nearly 30 years ago. It's over, done, finished. And I quite smoking weed before my firt daughter was born--17 years ago--so the weed thing is now about as romantic as bong water.
It was exciting then, but the thing bores the sh#t our of me now . . .
Rokjox...great stuff! As for people feeling hesitant to want to talk, I can understand that. This is why I'm telling those that do want to talk to us, we'll do it any way they want. Hell, if they want to put it on an etch-a-sketch just to make sure it can be erased...that's cool too. As I've said, we won't be using names anyway.
And for Chainsaw. Well, guy, all I can say is if you post bullsh#t, you'll sooner or later have to clean it up or as Rokjox points out, edit quickly. I know who the guy is that sent you that email. I'd say you'll probably be having your own interviews in the near future. Me(?), I'm still talking about 30 years ago, not today.
Hey shakey_legs, wish you would review this stuff and give a little more of that federal beta.
Many of the people here were never particularly friendly when we lived side by side so many tears ago, but I am loyal to my tribe. So I will talk of what I have been told by a man I trust, because I pay him to be trustworthy, and I think I respect him.
I have been talking to my attorney. Didnt have much time, other things were more pressing. (lawyers when you talk about them or pay them, attorneys when you need help, right?)
He agrees with shakey_legs essentially, though he said the drug/federal crimes thing had a 5 year expiration date, but he observes that the people running the goverment and the courts now are largely ignoring what we used to consider were basic rights and the law. He points out that right now you dont even need to be charged with a crime to be imprisoned indefinately and even tortured. And, Guantanamo & Abu Graib aren't the only gulags now.
He is of the opinion that I am really sticking my neck out to talk of this, even 28 years later. He says that when he first met me a few years ago, he thought I was really somewhat paranoid, but has seen enough stuff that he isnt so sure now. Gives examples of people (clients) who were running businesses and made some bad business deals, then made worse decisions trying to get back in the black. Went to federal courts, was sentenced, but stuff continued to escalate until it now involves the mans wife, mother, friends. You dont have to be convicted to be destroyed, nowadays. IRS spends extra time, police come by for "knock and talks", neighbors are talked to, employers, everything you do is scrutinized. He now tells his clients to never admit to anything, never even talk to the man, bury all your own bodies.
Look what the scummy, cross dressing, boyfriend keeping J. Edgar Hoover did, even to presidents. He was the top law officer, practiced blackmail OPENLY! (Interesting parallel with G. W. Shrub and his little gay boyfriend). Times got better for awhile after the rulers actually though we might have an ACTUAL political revolution that might threaten their power, but that is all gone now, and Fascism is definately on the rise. (As was observed in Nuremburg, "when Fascism comes to America, you will call it Americanism". I still wonder if Abbie Hoffman was assasinated. I met him 3-4 months before his sudden "suicide", and he said he thought his death would be made to look just like what happened. He "predicted" the manner of his death, and told the audience not to believe it. A Green Beret I know observed that the circumstances of the death looked exactly like he was taught to do it.
I still will talk about my experiences, but think I need to further hide my identity a little. Possibly, this is impossible, but what is my alternative? To go into hiding gives the fascists exactly what they want. They control best (easiest) by fear.
As far as going after assets aquired by illegal means, as Ben Franklin observed, no one can steal your education. But you can be silenced by death, though this is an extreme solution. And spending a few thousand in bull#### legal fees can cripple most of the ordinary people. Very few people have NOTHING to fear from such investigations. Most of those who think they don't, know nothing of the laws, the perversions of laws, and all the variations of what can be considered criminal. After all, when I told smokers (tobacco) that they would soon be jailed for lighting up on the street, they told me I was a stupid ass. But it is more and more common now, and with the premise that "society" can be hurt by individual choices (I.E. Seatbelts, Smoking tobacco, drinking alcohol, driving without insurance, etc.) and that you can be punished for what MIGHT of happened, no one is really safe now. Everyone can be destroyed.
Anyway, Shakey_legs, where are you?
Licky, nobody said being a historical author was safe or easy. Historically speaking, it can be tremendously dangerous. Makes lead climbing sheet ice look sane.
And he did us a tremendous, courageous favor. Putting ethics/morals above cronyism. I voted for Nixon, too, (and am I ashamed). Nixon WAS a criminal (crook). He left because it was the ONLY way he could get out without impeachment and maybe jail time. Thats how Ford got into the presidential office, he was the only man who would promise to pre-emptively pardon Nixon of ALL crimes, immediately upon being sworn in - without even specifying what crimes they were. Remember that Agnew had already been run out of office and was up on charges for CRIMINAL behaviour.
Mark Felt, that's right. Now, I agree that Nixon was a crook. But the only reason Felt went sniveling to the media was he was pissed he didn't get the FBI's top spot. If he wanted to whistleblow, he could have through proper channels. As a top LE official, it was absolutely criminal to leak official ongoing investigation information to the media. Absoulutely a crime. He could have gone to the proper people in the justice department or even to Nixon himself and said, "Look, here is what we have, come clean or else."
Jack's death has bothered me for 28 years due to these 2 pieces of information. First, I knew Jack and had a long talk with him approx. a week before he died. He told me he had gone into the cockpit and retrieved a notebook and a bag of coke. He had looked at the notebook and was scared shitless at what he had found due to the high profile names of the investors. He expressed the fear that if it got known that he had the book he was as good as dead. The second piece of info was another friend who didn't know jack was this; he was a vietnam vet, rough around the edges who in making a visit to the va hospital in the bay area was approached by an acquaintance and told that some people were very interested in retrieving the notebook and a hit was out for whoever had it. Shortly thereafter Jack died. I'm sorry but I think Jack was murdered.
Highly speculative hypotheses. The so called murderer would have had to be on scene during that YOSAR incident. So called murderer would have to have known the subtle layout of the Yosemite Falls Trail due to the time Jack was killed, at night. He would have had to know exactly the best places where to make it look like a accident. Not something a murderer would be able to think or plan out because of the nature of rescues. They happen at any time, anywhere, with too many witnesses around. Not a murdering type plan at all, no secrecy.
Remember, Jack had been drinking heavily that night ………….
Since I am not privy to the accident investigation that was done following Jack's death I don't know his level of ontoxication. I do know the one spot on the trail that someone could fall quite easily to their death. It is not such a tripping hazard that the park service has put a railing or wall up nor has anyone else tripped and fallen to their death that I am aware of. For Jack to fall at that exact spot I would imagine that he would have been stumbling quite heavily in many other parts of the trail that are much more uneven. In my mind that would mean he would have been going quite a bit slower than the rest of the team and perhaps lagging far behind. If I remember correctly there were no witnesses to his fall and it was some time before it was discovered what had happened to him. It is hard to imagine someone in camp 4 watching Jack for the chance to off him yet if they were, that was the perfect opportunity to follow behind him and at the right moment nudge him gently into the void. I would be interested to know if the SAR team was interviewed to ascertain Jacks condition leading up to his death and his level of inebriation. Perhaps it was divine intervention that led him to take that fall but given what I stated previously I am far less than certain that it was an accident. Jack was a decent enough human being that he deserves a thorough investigation as to the events that led up to his death.
There was two groups that were interested in the "Black Book." The Feds because it could implicate "partners" as well as Pam. The other was Pam's attorney at the time. He came in from out of town in an attempt to find out information as to where the book was. It would have been advantageous from a defense stand point to have the book magically disappear.
The book ended up in the Reno Nevada office of the DEA. I have a copy of the letter from the legal office of the Department of the Interior written to Pam's attorney. They give an explanation as to the where abouts of the book. I also have a copy of the pilot's death certificate. It speaks volumes about what may or may not have contributed to the crash.
I realize that for some, or for many, the idea of the mysterious black book and all of the bad juju surrounding it helps magnify the legend(s) surrounding this incident. Right now I'm not going to spend a lot of time dispelling most of them. I think it will be more dramatic when the entire picture is presented in our book. So for now, I think speculation on many of these issues is healthy. Hell, it gives me a chance to hear that one person say something that tells me "yep, you were there weren't you?"
A side bar to comments regarding Jack's death or more aptly a related question for Werner. WB: A good friend of mine died on the falls trail at night during a SAR. I think it was the year after Jack's death as I remember it as 1976 but it could of been 1977. He was a lanky/skinny blonde headed kid and I remember his name as Steve. I think he worked with me at the Ahwahnee that summer.
Do you remember a second death on the falls trail during a SAR around that time period? I just recall being shocked that he had died when the following day all my friends told me he walked off the trail at night during a rescue. Appreciate the info if you remember, Theo
A good friend of mine died on the falls trail at night during a SAR.
Yosar has had only one fatality ever, Jack Dorn.
This is the account from "Accidents in Mountain Rescue Operations"
Experienced rescuer walks off the trail and falls to his death
On May 23, 1977, two climbers, Larry Day (26) and Donald Evans (23), began an attempt to climb the Yosemite Buttress in Yosemite National Park. Although they each had some experience, neither was prepared for bad weather or an overnight bivouac. The two climbers stumbled up the route, and as rain fell, their problems increased. Ultimately, Evans fell and injured himself, and Day called for help. He was told that rescuers would be coming in the morning.
Six rescuers started walking up an established trail up Yosemite Falls trail at 3:30 a.m. the following morning in search of the ill-prepared rock climbers who had cried out in the dark. For an unknown reason, Yosemite volunteer Jack Dorn walked off a well-worn path and plunged 400-600 feet to his death. He had been wearing a portable tape player at the time of the accident.
He just sent me a DVD of his presentation in the Valley. Complete with Nevada Barr's narrative and his dissertation on what he calls "Dope Lake." All of his photos from the scene, even a shot of him wearing his Tee Shirt! Great stuff.
For those that are semi-following this thread, I thought a little up date might be in order. I want to first thank those that have either called or emailed me with their stories. Many, more than fifteen now have agreed to tell their stories to me personally and quite a few others are doing so via email or phone. As you can well imagine, the stories are a mix of some pretty great stuff, and also repeats. It appears that if everyone didn't go up together on the same day, they sure did it over a fairly short and swift period of time. Probably made a well worn route. I'd not be surprised if after the book is published that a marked trail of some sort might all of a sudden appear. Suggest a name for the route and we might use it.
I may have found one of original Tee Shirts in good condition. I suggested to the owner that he hang on to it until after the book is published. He's going to send photos of it shortly.
GWB called and said he recalled having a nasty cough back then. Never did figure out what gave it to him. I guess it got around.LOL
Stay tuned, but I'll not bore people with daily up dates.
Thanks again to everyone...its greatly appreciated!
Licky, Your book is a wonderful idea.
I was living in the Valley then, but never made it to the Lake.
I haven't made it through all the replies on this page yet, so this topic may have already been covered.
There was a rumor that the Tool found a suitecase full of cocaine. Did it exist? What happened to it? Does anyone know?
P.S. I have one of those shirts somewhere. When I find it I'll send you a photo. I have the "GO JUMP IN THE LAKE" shirt, not the original "I GOT MINE"
Imagine a case full of coke sitting in a mountain lake from a day to as long as a few weeks. I'd be afraid of stepping in the water lest my feet would go to sleep.
On the other hand, if "Tool" wants to get a hold of me via phone/email addy I'm sure we can both confirm nor deny to what was there. Always makes for some good adventure...js
A photo of the shirt would be great! Thanks in advance.
By the way. One of the four original guys that found the plane wreck was named John Freeman. He and his wife both worked in the park back then. John died 10 years ago. I'd love to get ahold of either his wife or any of the other three that were with him. If anyone knew these people, please pass my personal contact info on to them.
Well, then here is the real scoop. The deal was that no coke or guns would be run. If there was any coke on board the plane, it wasn't part what they did on a regular basis, so its more legend than fact.
Now let the "Tool" come forward with their side of the story.
Probably a quick up date for those that are following the saga.
One of the four guys that originally found the crash and reported it to NPS died about ten years ago. Someone reading this thread new him and put me in touch with his wife. She just contacted me and has agreed to tell me what she remembers.
Jaybro...probably not for a year or so. Pam says it'll take her at least six months to put together the story about the plane and that side of the story. I'm still hunting down people from the investigation side.
I met Jack in spring '76. Great guy, always fun to be around. In December he headed east with my partner Bob Anderson. He gave me his address in New York, but I didn't get back there so we met again in the valley in May.
If Werner says he was drunk I believe him but I saw Jack earlier that day and he was walking OK. Plus he KNEW that trail.
I'm always going to wonder....
Glad I named a line on the big stone for him. He lives on in Yosemite lore.
Just a quick up date as its been a while since my last post.
We've talked to a number of people that were there during the event. Not all were among the climbers so we are now getting a quite a different view from those on the outside of the climbing community. I've even managed to find some of the original Park Rangers that were up at the lake as "guards" so no more of the "cargo" was removed.
It appears that pretty much only climbers were the ones that made it up to the plane other than those that originally found it. The image that the "others" had/have of the climbers from back then have been pretty interesting. Nothing negative by the way.
"With a broad white smile, she lifted her eyes from the bale and swept her skis up and around, reversing direction for the climb uphill. Only then did she notice that on every side, upslope and all the way down to the lake, she was surrounded by lumps of snow, a whole buried herd of them, each no different from this one."
Mr T...the only problem to the scenario is that in December of 1976, the Sierra was having a nasty drought. I have reports of people hiking up to the lake (9,000 foot level) in tennis shoes. I also have photos taken at the site that show quite a lot of dirt instead of foots of snow.
If I could figure out how to post photos to this board I'd start showing some of the stuff that is public domain. Only problem...I can't see a simple click this button to load an image. If someone can help...please.
Go to Image Shack and sign up. It's free. Download the quick uplink feature. Upload your photos to Image Shack. Then you can use the ST help. I just put the photos in a folder on my desktop, Right click a photo, click on the send to Image Shack, when it shows up, click the picture to enlarge it, right click it, click properties, highlight the URL, rightclick it, hit copy, then go to the thread on ST. type the tags type[, then img,followed by ] rightclick, hit paste, the URL will show up, then type same tag at end,except put/in front of img, then post it. There are probably easier ways but this is the way I have always done it and you can see what your picture will look like in the thread. Also the size. To post several photos at once, you can line them up in your e-mail or somewhere, then copy and paste the whole mess in at once. You will need to get your pictures on the internet to post them.
Ok, give me a little while and I'll get the hang of this.
This photo is of the Rangers, after they've scared off the "harvesters" and are now cutting holes in the lake to retrieve the 40 pound bales of dope that are just under the surface.
Blitzo, very close. Utica. I've decided that a chapter needs to be dedicated to Jack Dorn. I'd love to talk to you or anyone else that knew him. If you have any stories to share about Jack, please email me so we can get in touch.
If anyone has been following this adventure, the doors keep opening. Currently I am doing research on the history of the plane as well as the pilot & copilot.
Licky. you keep saying that you will take storys without names. If you are trying to write a serious book that seems risky. I certainly understand not publishing names but it would seem that you would have to validate storys and make suer that you are not writeing a bunch of BS from an annomos source.
Thin ice, all of this. Find out who did what that year, round up the usual suspects and contact in person. It's called research. There's lots on the record that could make a better story than second-hand information.
"If a load of marijuana dropped from the skies (as it did one spring in the Valley), it was heven-sent."
It was supposed to be soaked in Av fuel, though that never bothered me.
So far everyone I have talked to have identified themselves. I have met with them personally or via the phone. Some have asked not to be named in the book, but they have had no problem talking to me. This includes some big time players that have had nothing to do with the climbing scene.
In the over all scheme of things for this book, the events surrounding two or three dozen guys that tell their stories about what they did with their share of the cargo will only fill one if barely two chapters. Many things went on prior to and after the plane crash. Hell, they are STILL going on including what I am learning as of just last week. The Jack Dorn story is probably a good example. Lots of rumor, lots of guessing.
The story is coming together very quickly and to those that have provided insights as to the different facets of this event, thank you. To those that never had anything to do with it, yet to this day speak as if they do, well...you know the real story. I am not out to expose those that didn't nor am I out to expose those that did.
If I can't verify the validity of a story with at least three others that were there at the same time, I'll publish that info as just that. People can read and make their own minds up. But I will not print the info as the gospel. Lets not forget that this event happened 30 years ago. Longer than a lot of those that post on this board are old. People not only forget, they tend to fill in the gaps as best they can. Stories need to make sense when you tell them.
And for those few that seem to think this is nothing more than a legend, you need to spend a little more time reading. This event changed the future for many people. Directly or indirectly, it was one of those events that eventually touched thousands. Just go rent Sylvester Stallone's movie, "Cliff Hanger" and you'll know what I mean.
Now here is an unusual one. For over thirty years everyone thought that the plane was a Lockheed Lodestar. Thus the name, "Lodestar Lightning"....yes/no? Wrong. The plane was not a Lockheed Lodestar but instead it was a...uh....umm....
There were fresh busted up tree tops nearby the lake. Could it have simply been that they got too treetop low? (out of fuel/running on one engine, hiding from radar, sightseeing, screwing off?
Didnt look to me as I would expect a crash site caused by the plane losing a wing up high and augering. Plane was nose up in the ice with 2 to 3 foot sticking out, standing on its tail from what I could see. Assuming it still had its tail. At the time I was certain it was the nose. I thought it looked like they had tried to ditch/land on the lake, hit trees and went through the ice backward, (but I dont know if the lake was ice covered when they went down.)
Well that says that they dont have a clue! Darn plane flew a long ways before the wing just came off. Bolt Failure? When was the last scheduled overhaul/inspection? And the overloading thing is just a guess, as they have no idea how much weight was on the thing in the first place.
If they (the pilots) had not been running weed, the NTSB would never have given up its investigation into the crash so easily.
My answer is as good (better) as anything the NTSB is offering.
Wing was found closeby (less than a 1/4 mile, wasn't it?)
"I'm-a headin' to Californy, to chop some ice and get some green!"
EDIT: The specs at this link for the Lockheed PV-1 indicate a maximum payload (fuel, crew and cargo) of 10,000 pounds, so carrying 6 tons of headache weed was, apparently, beyond the scope of its intended use.
I heard second-hand (from an aerospace engineering professor at Cal Poly) that early aluminum airplanes had fatigue failure problems. Like bending a coat hanger back and forth until it breaks, the wing spars (or whatever) would flex until cracks developed. The vibration from the engines could also do this.
EDIT: The stock engines were two monster radials:
Pratt & Whitney R-2800-31 Double Wasp, 18 cylinders, 2000 hp
This engine powered the F8F Bearcat, which had the record time-to-altitude climb for piston aircraft (and still might).
Only a turboprop would have given better performance.
EDIT: My father was flying his Piper Cherokee from Reno back to Concord (Bay Area) and caught a rather nasty downdraft that caused the plane to lose thousands of feet very quickly. He was able to controllably crash it into the mountain. He and the passenger walked way, totally unhurt. This sort of thing might have contributed to the wing failure.
For the life of me I cant find where the cargo is listed as 6 tons. Sounds like a made up figure to me.
12,000 lbs of cargo in a machine whose maximum weight total is 10,000 lbs INC fuel. Weed is not very heavy for its bulk either... those burlap sacks were full, but not highly compressed and boxed like when you put the stuff through a trash compactor.
Somehow I doubt if you could get that much in there. If you did, I doubt it would lift off. And seeing how the plane went into the drink, then was looted after being torn apart in the crash, and the crew died, and the support crew (loaders, backers, and all the rest) aren't volunteering info, who says they know how much cargo weighed?
Is this more disinformation by the Feds to bulk up their statistics? Like when they get a half ton of weed and list it as having a street value of 2 million bucks, assuming every bit was sold as pinners at 100 to the ounce?
That would make the cargo worth about 24 million by the feds standards. Total BS. (I tried to style these as 1977 estimates/prices, and they dont seem like such high prices today, but back then it would have sounded ludicrous, just like the current "street value" estimates of similar hauls sound today)
Think about it. Pilots, even those who dont get a commercial license study lots of physics, on what makes airplanes fly.
You don't get a twin engine commercial license because you are an idiot. Yet here are two guys who supposedly took a plane loaded with 20% more cargo weight (alone), more than the max. gross takeoff weight of the entire aircraft (wet), and not only attempted to get it off the runway, but actually did it. Must of been a LOOONG takeoff roll. Like Ensenada to Rosarito.
Even drunk, stoned and lied to, I dont think you could find a pilot who would try it. Doesn't sound like guys with wives and careers and a desire to spend lots of money, to me.
Suggests slightly higher load carrying ability. The later models could carry 1600 gallons of fuel which is nearly 10,000 pounds.
I suspect that you are right, that there were not 12,000 pounds of weed (dry) on board. But it does seem reasonable that you could put enough in that it was loaded above manual takeoff limits with nearly full fuel tanks. Keep in mind that the flight was in December, so denser air would help takeoff performance. I suppose knowing the terrain around "Baja" would help.
Max range was under 1000 miles so they could have calculated being well under limits for landing with low fuel at end of flight. Weather (especially around mountain tops), loading, and fatigue in a fairly old aircraft might believably result in some sort of airframe failure and separation in flight.
Of course, one could just buy a copy of the full report...
The plane is bigger than I thought it was. And given how far it stuck out of the ice, I must have been walking around inches from the props, just barely under the ice, but there was no sign. I wonder if they were even there. What did the plane look like when they pulled it out? Gotta be pics, Rick is probibly saving them for the book.
I would expect that those old P&W engines might have been replaced as Robb suggested. Maybe with a lighter powerplant. That might give a little more capacity.
The 12,000 lbs figure was probibly a maximum estimate of the max payload possible in weight... that would figure in with the way the Feds seem to do that sort of thing (estimating).
Another interesting point. Yes, the plane started off as a Lockheed PV-1 Ventura, but was "slightly" modified. It had a very interesting if not colorful history prior to becoming a drug running aircraft.
Another up date is due for those that are following this thread.
Today I interviewed the guy that found the wing in the trees that launched the event. When he saw it, he thought he was looking at a man made fence, at the 8,700 foot level in the middle of the Sierra wilderness. The wing was on edge and looked completely out of place. It was white and had it been laying flat on the ground, this guy might have walked right by it since he saw it from quite a distance from the trail they were on.
I also now have some great photos of the lake and the melee that went on during Easter Weekend. So if anyone was up at the lake at that time you will probably appreciate the photos.
This is a tough day for the families and friends of the pilots that crashed into Lower Merced Pass Lake. It is now the 30th anniversary of the plane crash and their death, December 9, 1976.
On a lighter note, It is also the 30th anniversary for those that found the plane and its cargo that helped launch the event that made the future for quite a few others. Whether it was simply purchasing that van and a ton of eight track tapes or providing the fodder for a book/movie, today is the day that sits heavy in quite a few minds.
If the wing that Ron Lykins had found was laying flat on the ground, things would have been very different for many today. Careers would not have been launched as they were.
I know this is a climbing forum, but everyone ought to stop and think about how much this event figured into the advancement of of the big wall craft.
Chad, it moves at different speeds. I now know what they mean about writer's block. It seems like some days I can't figure out where the "any key" is and other days I'm up to 3am punching away like its my last day.
Finally have the entire military and civilian history of the aircraft. That in itself was no small feat. Next week I talk to the guy that was instrumental in introducing the pilots to the partners.
In early February of 1977 a guy showed up possibly in Camp 4 one night that told a bunch of guys sitting around a camp fire, what he described as "hard core climbers", about the plane, its location, and its cargo. If there is anyone that can recall his presence, please drop me a line.
Just talked to the #2 guy in the "organization". Yep, he is still around. The #1 guy was found in his car in not a too friendly condition. The #2 guy has stories about the plane, the loads, the trips and the money that are amazing. To think that those of you....and you know of whom I speak....participated in an adventure of the magnitude that was will probably boggle the mind.
Wasn't coke smaller amount, vial? Found with B Book?
Not all stash was fuel soaked?
Not all stashed stash was just stashed close and only under snow?
How many were arrested hiking out? Think maybe illegal search of back pack was the out?
When I first found this tread I thought I was east No. Conway, Gunk’s and few other places till infected toe would not allow EBs. But that was 78 Peers , Loeks remember ?
Just remember asking ranger from dif. Park what said stuff was. Her reply was don't you know? Plane, lake ect. I arrived in the valley same day the feds did. As if I had not learned my lessons in Baja 1970 and St.Tom 73. For me it would have been just another repeat in 77, probably worse. For me climbing got me away from what not.
So my worry would be the IRS
I know a guy who lost 4 mil in one fell swoop. They took every think but his licenses to practice and the house his wife claimed. Smart gal didn’t claim Cliff house or Smith River house but sh#t shack condo in IB to watch floaters at Tijuana slews
IRS knows no limit on Tax evasion or do they. Could really FK a lot of families now. Not just individuals living in vans. But I really wasn’t there and even what I heard first person is hearsay
I now have a photo of the pilots getting busted in Salt Lake City by armed DEA agents. I'll write in the book about the event. Another one of those stories that makes you shake your head and say, "You GOT to be kidding"!
I got to the Valley early in the spring of 1977, in order to do some ice climbing, in preparation for a planned trip to Europe that summer. I was amazed to find Yabo paying for a multi-course dinner in the Mountain Room , instead of his usual scarfing next door in the cafeteria. Snapped this shot on the Half Dome trail:
When we got to Europe that summer, we told the yarn to Ken Wilson, the editor of Mountain Magazine, who loved it. He published a short summary in the news section of the magazine, calling the incident “like something out of an Alistair Maclean novel.” Still one of the most improbable tales from that time.
Wonder: But of course I am! How else would anyone come forward and provide the kind of stuff I need to put this story together? Since the book will be an historical account of the event, all will be factual. I will however have a chapter dedicated to all of the rumors and hear say stories, but it will be identified as such.
The trail sign photo is amazing! These are the things that make the story great.
Thanks for posting the photo...check your email
I just came across a photo of the guys making their first "hike" across the border with full expedition packs. They did this before they bought their first of five planes. Also have a shot later on of them with all of their planes.
Is there anyone that can direct me to either a website or a physical location that can give me the weather conditions at Lower Merced Pass Lake on December 8/9, 1976? I need a source other than "Mike told me that someone said...." if you know what I mean.
FILE DATE LOCATION AIRCRAFT DATA INJURIES FLIGHT PILOT DATA
F S M/N PURPOSE
3-4169 76/12/9 YOSEMITE,CA LOCKHEED PV-1 CR- 2 0 0 MISCELLANEOUS COMMERCIAL, FL.INSTR.,
TIME - UNK/NR N80BD PX- 0 0 0 OTHER AGE 29, 5000 TOTAL HOURS,
DAMAGE-DESTROYED OT- 0 0 0 UNK/NR IN TYPE,
DEPARTURE POINT INTENDED DESTINATION
TYPE OF ACCIDENT PHASE OF OPERATION
AIRFRAME FAILURE: IN FLIGHT IN FLIGHT: OTHER
MISCELLANEOUS - UNDETERMINED
AIRFRAME - WINGS: WING ATTACHMENT FITTINGS,BOLTS
MISCELLANEOUS ACTS,CONDITIONS - OVERLOAD FAILURE
MISCELLANEOUS ACTS,CONDITIONS - SEPARATION IN FLIGHT
MISSING AIRCRAFT - LATER RECOVERED
REMARKS- RECOVERY DATE 6/14/77.TRANSPORTATION OF NARCOTICS.
Model: PV-1 Search all Lockheed PV-1
Year built: 1959
Serial Number (C/N): 5375
Mode S Code: 52557641
Aircraft Type: Fixed wing multi engine
Number of Seats: 10
Number of Engines: 2
Engine Type: Reciprocating
Engine Manufacturer and Model: P & W R-2800 SERIES
Registration Type: Corporation
Owner: Red River Ranch Inc
Address: Fort Lauderdale, FL 33310
Certification Issued: 1976-10-12
Air Worthiness Test: Unknown
Last Action Taken: 1977-01-14
Majid...Yep, it was "originally" a PV-1 Ventura. But not when it crashed. I appreciate the homework you did, good job. Guess you can appreciate what kind of hot rod this plane must have been? By the way, did you notice there were 10 seats on board for a fighter bomber? Interesting.
Here is an actual photo of the plane during W.W. II
HAppiegirl, In this scenario the failure occured in flight. The term overload is use to describe a failure mode, not a physical state. Although, considering what it was transporting, it is likely that the plane was above gross (overloaded in lay terms).
Aircraft can be overloaded, above the maximum gross weight, but in flight failures can also be the result of flight conditions. As was proposed, the failure may have been the result of turbulence. This, in turn, results in the structural limits of the aircraft being exceeded when turbulence is excessive. The Sierra can be extremely turbulent under the right conditions.
It is also possible that the aircraft, as old as it was, just reached it's structural fatigue life. This varies with each aircraft. The only way to mitigate the fatigue is to do regular, and occasionally extensive maintence and rebuilding. Remeber Aloha Flight 243? It exceeded it's compression and decompression cycle limits, and blew it's top.
The FAA usually does a more intensive analysis of crashes. This appears to be worded somewhat vaguely. Maybe intentionally.
In looking at the report above, the FAA identify WING ATTACHMENT FITTINGS,BOLTS , this is as specific as it gets. Most aircraft require inspection of these attach points on a regular basis. Some even go so far as to require replacement at regular intervals. It's not a common thing to have these just fail. More likely something was going on in flight. I'd be intersted to know the orientation of the plane in the lake. Did it com in, in the direction of travel? If these pilots were in IFR conditions, it is possiblr that they lost control and entered into an all too common, high speed spiral. This will lead to structural failure as loads on the airframe are exceeded quite easily.
Overload means too much stress on AC now here is what I got on this model AC. Normal range 1660 miles, Weights: 20,197 pounds empty, 31,077 pounds loaded, 34,000 pounds maximum.
This AC took off from BAJA toward Reno with full tank of gas of 1600 gal x @7 lbs = 11000 lbs worth of fuel then max load was 34000 lbs. 11000+21000 = 32000 lbs and still under the max load. If they loaded this AC with 2500 lbs worth of goodies then it was overloaded at take off but by the time they got near Yos they had used near 70% of the gas and they were ok however, my guess is that they had more than 2500 lbs of goodies may be near 4000 lbs and they calculated the fuel /destination to max out their load to land in Reno with almost no gas, may be even they even took the 10 seats out to add another 200 lbs.
This AC was a bomber with cargo door right below the main section and I am guessing they were going to fly slow and at low alt to drop the cargo some where in desert and then land at Reno as clean as baby's face, also I been on few AC recoveries where smaller plane crashed and there was not any thing left of AC to recognize but the clock.
According to one of the stories, dudes were pulling goodies out of AC crash site which tells me that AC was not involved in major impact otherwise they could not recover much. I think pilot knew he had a problem and he was trying to get to lower Alt and land but flying IFR over 13000 feet mountain range, you are SOL in finding a landing spot . The wings broke off while he was descending to lower alt and he crashed very close to ground. That is what I think it happened.
First the plane wasn't what you think so its age and condition didn't play into this event.
As for the plane being overloaded for its capability. Again, the plane wasn't what everyone thought it was, so its ability to carry what it had on board (I have the true quanity that was loaded by way of the load master that over saw the loading) was well within its capability.
And for the weather, well it didn't figure into the event.
Majid...I'm going to have to add your speculation to the chapter on rumors and wild stories. Sorry guy, but you aren't even close. But keep trying, you have a knack for the yarn.
Obviously I'm not going to tell the whole story here before I go to print, but some of your thoughts are getting close. Some of the really key issues have been posted on this thread by myself and others. You really have to turn into a detective and read each and every word...there is evidence there to be grabbed. I'll tell you when you are really off base.
Thanks for the lead on Vortex. I talked to David Harris when I first started researching this subject. He told me the story behind his book. Very interesting how he got his information.
So you didn't answer my question, Was the aircraft and debris path oriented in the direction of travel?
Don't think that gives the story away, but based on what you just added, I can make some good guesses.
First the plane wasn't what you think so its age and condition didn't play into this event...As for the plane being overloaded...was well within its capability.
Your are being a bit ambiguous here in the use of the word "capability". I suppose for good reason. However, and I speak as one who has done warbird restoration, the components in the FAA offcial report are not likely to have been modified, maybe replaced. I am not suggesting that other stuctural mods weren't made that could increase the gross weight, as there are many. If, in fact, the wing attach bolts did fail, and the aircraft was within it's operating envelope (weight/CG) then what we have left is pilot error or incapacitaion, and weather conditions. This resulted in the aircraft being operated outside the limits of it's flight envelope, in one way or another.
So humor me, what was the orientation of the crash path?
I just wonder, this PV-1 was flying in IFR under FAA radar from BAJA but they were able to fly from better path such as central valley or fly over water to SF then make a right turn and go to Reno but they did not.
If he had 2500 lbs of goodies then he could not drop it via bomb bay because max drop limit at bomb bay was 1600 lbs so cargo was inside the plane. FAA was watching these guys cause they wanted to fly under FAA radar or IFR, well back in 1977 FAA was not using the modern radar system so there were times when they could not see the plane in radar or as they call it, shadows in radar . If PV was flying over sierras in winter at low alt ( just above the ground ) to create shadow on purpose cause then may be they wanted to land some place before RENO drop the load and take off again using the few minute of shadow ( sort of un noticed) in FAA radar and land in Reno clean. Just a thought.
The route you guys are speculating about was as follows.
They flew west out of Mexico and north along the US coast, within US controlled airspace and on radar. The ATC reported that the plane had disappeared off of the radar at Santa Barbara. This was when they turned north and dropped down below radar level. From Santa Barbara they flew toward Reno where they were to land at Black Rock, the site of the now Burning Man event. They would off load there, refuel, and return to Mexico for their final load and then return home.
If you take a look at the map you can see that Lower Merced Pass Lake is in a very close line along the path between Santa Barbara and Reno. This trip was not unusual for them nor was it new. However, if you are an experienced pilot, you can appreciate that they did this in the dark and didn't attract the attention of US Customs, DEA, or the military.
You still haven't offered a response to my two previous questions about debris path orientation.
I was more interested in the real CAUSE of the crash.
Whatever, keep it a mystery. If there is an answer I guess I'lll have to read about it.
First off I can't believe anyone would blame the pilots for the lost lifes of the people who died long after the wreck of the plane, first off it was those individuals choices to begin selling drugs in the first place. Look at largo, his life doesn't appear to be negatively affected by it. Personal choices are just that.
Now what i intended to write, you should go around Yosemite and ask a few of those people, I worked for guy at the Yoesemite garage this summer who was there in the seventies and claimed to have smoked some of that nasty weed. he claimed it was soaked with jet fuel and wasn't even worth it. Anyways there are quite a few lifers around there, and almost all of them used to smoke, so that would be a good place to get more stories from non-climbers.
The weed was easy to sort out, the fuel soaked stuff stunk when you pulled it out and was stained. I left big piles laying on the shore as I would only carry good stuff. Somebody else likely picked up the stuff I abandoned.
There was really nothing wrong with most of what I got. I got a lot of money per pound in San Diego. Put myself through a year at the UA. And bought a nice NF Oval intention for the camp 4 dirt, too.
Still cannot believe the pictures of the plane. The nose was sticking up almost 3 feet out of the ice, and the engine/props had to have been visible, inches under the ice. Had they been there. They weren't visible, so I don't see where they could have been. If the wings had totally separated from the airframe, I would have expected the plane to be in the ice nose first and in MANY pieces, which just wasn't the case. Very odd wreck... almost no debris anywhere on the shore, and the plane was very close to the shore.
I look forward to the book and the pics.
Go Ricky, but take your time, we want the definitive history.
Give it a rest chainsaw. Your caricature of this lurching, introverted, paranoid 70s climber is stale. We've all had it rough at times. Some of us still do. People want to hear about this stuff. Its the golden lore of an amazing sport. Its what grinds the wheels of imagination, propels our search on high ever farther, and motivates us toward the mystery that we are up there for in the first place. There is nothing like the hallowed, crazy, mystical, mostly ridiculous, often tragic, ever surprising history of the greatest sport on Earth. How we are all connected, through this ethereal thread of story and circumstance, is what makes us climbers - through and through - heart, mind and soul. This is a great tale. Let them write it. I'll read it.
This sure is an interesting thread. The story is a very fascinating one and should be told. It's kind of a climbing mythology and lore that just so happens to be true. It will be nice to know the full story eventually.
Someone you should get in touch with, and she is a writer for Mammoth Times, her initials are C.R. She was a neighbor of mine on Mustang Mesa, near Bishop, for the longest time but she is sadly no longer. However, she still writes for MT. She told me about the old time truck that she and her boyfriend still have, and how it was some how involved with the big infamous event in '77. She knows I climb and would be familiar with the story, and she just told me this one day out of the blue when we were chatting outside. She is a great lady and a very good writer. She is the one who writes most of the more progessive articles for the MT. We definately see eye to eye, politically and environmentally. She would be someone to talk to for sure. She is one brave soul. You should read some of her articles. She is not afraid to speak truth to power.
Well, you obviuosly know what ultimately brought the plane down, and I don't blame you for not wanting to give the whole story away. But you said that it wasn't the weather . . .
"And for the weather, well it didn't figure into the event."
You ultimately know, but my speculation would be the "Sierra Wave" might have brought the plane down. The number of flights that have been brought down over the years in the Sierras due to the Sierra Wave and the rotor clouds of turbulence associated with these massive wave events and the often lenticular clouds that form as a result, is quite high. What many people don't realize is that they are more frequent during the winter months, and it can happen day or night and even on clear weather and sunny "blue-bird" days. These conditions can easily lead to structural failure of aircraft. It is like the hand of God swatting a fly out of the sky.
I encourage everyone to read the story of the research done on the Sierra Wave in Bishop during the '40s and '50s. There are historical markers now at Bishop Airport commemmorating these well known and famous studies. They studied the Sierra Wave by sailplanes/gliders! To surf the Sierra Wave in a glider is a dream of most sailplane pilots. Not an experience for the faint of heart. The following book tells the entire story . . .
You can also buy the book at Spellbinders in Bishop. It's a great read. You will come to appreciate and respect the Sierra Wave more and understand the massive awe inspiring forces involved in it when you read all about the study done in Bishop.
As I said, many a plane flight in the Sierras that have crashed, came down as a result of the Sierra Wave. Sometimes it is an invisible killer, and you'll never know until it hits you.
The first time I heard about this was on my first true Valley Trip. Of course it was mostly getting drunk and wobbling up Swan Slab, but I met a guy nicknamed "Spew" who claimed to be hanging in the high country with a local Valley hardman that has the initials T.T.
"Spew" claimed to have witnessed the actual crash and that he was one of the guys on scene first pulling out bales of "Acupolco Gold".
He also claimed that this was the story that inspired "Cliffhanger"
His whereabouts... somewhere in Arizona
Disclaimer: He also claimed to be Chonngo Chucks personal belay slave and that he would gladly haul for anyone if they paid him in King Cobra.
Upon coming onto the lake sometime after sunrise, what yu could see was laid out more or less left to right. More or lless in front and only a couple dozen yards off the shore was a small nosecone sticking out of the ice about the size of a little igloo doghouse. In front on the shore was a short length of conduit or tubing, looked like from the plane, maybe used to poke beneath the ice or snag a bag off the bottom.
To the left only a hundred yards away a tree next to the edge of the lake had a busted crown top with fresh looking yellow wood splintered and brokem. But the top was all of fifty feet up, the last few yards of the flight path seemed too steep, like maybe must have been a sudden stop? But how would the plane have ended up standing on its tail? MAybe no tail section? I got no idea how deep the water was there, after three feet the conduit just seemed to disappear into the slush.
Did the pilot almost make his flare out onto the lake hitting the tree and tearing off his wings? Could have flung a wing a long way with an engine weighting it down. Spinning onto the soft ice surface and busting through...
I got no idea, just fantasys. Kinda like a remembered hallooo -miscindignation.
I had a problem at the time. I was living not too far a way outside the valley, but when I got back to my 64 ford, it had frozen its block and blown the freeze plugs.
I had 80 lbs of soaking wet stinking weed, a car with no water jacket, and about 40 miles to go. It was a difficult trip. I only had a two liter jug. The river was alongside the road for a lot of the way. and it was mostly downhill. except for the huge uphills. And the stretches where there wasnt any water alongside the road.
I was soooo bustable. That car smoking and blowing steam alternately with the long coasts with the engine off. The long waits on bad pullouts, waiting for the engine to cool enough to try the next 5 miles, scared to death I would seize the engine beyond the ability of the old starter to restart the overheated 305 v-8.
Then, as I dried the sheef at home, I had to repair all that damage without almost any money, so I could get to SD where I had the appropriate friendships located. Took days of backbreaking work removine the heads and carrying them into town in my backpack, walking miles and hitching back.
To the people writing the book about the 1977 Lodestar... I am very much attached and have known I would need and wanted to get in touch with Pam Glisky for many years. It is unbelievable that I am even here writing, as I am... I have a message to her and one question for her. M. Costello said something many years ago and I believe he, at the time, told me the truth---but to verify by Pam only. My phone # for Pam only is 360-265-4952.
I've really enjoyed reading this thread from the beginning and I look forward to buying the book. However, the worry of what the cops/Feds/IRS whoever might do to those climbers who found and "liberated" the weed all those years ago seems like silly Baby Boomer paranoia. It was 1,500 pounds of shitty Mexican schwag, full of seeds and baled, for crying out loud. Speculation and remarks about the quality after the crash are kinda moot, 'cause it was low-grade to begin with -- and I'm sure the lake and AV fuel didn't improve the taste or high. And at $400 a pound? Do the math! It would only be $60,000 divided by however many people helped themselves -- truly a pittance in the drug trade. The notion of "talking to lawyers" and worrying about "the man" coming knocking because of comments posted in this forum are laughable.
Kinda disappointing that it wasn't quality California-grown sinsemilla, which today is worth $4,000 a pound wholesale at the many legal cannabis dispensaries in Cali.
And Chainsaw? I thought he was a made-up, DARE rhetoric-spouting joke character until his identity was revealed. And then it was apparent he was kind of a made-up joke character, but a real one...
Snark! Yep, Chainsaw is a fool. A few comments about your post, good California green bud did exist back in those days but valued at around $800-$1000 per lbs. In very rare cases very high quality sensi (it was almost all sensi in those days) it was sold for more than $1000 per lbs. It went way up in price in the eighties when when different strains came into play. $4000 lbs didn't come about for many years after the crash. 1500 pounds? No, I think you will find it a much bigger load when you read the book.
Also the quality of the crash buds varied due to water damage and aviation fuel. Not all of it was full of seeds typical of low grade Mexican. It sounds like you smoked some so I don't wish to lecture you in any way but I remember differently, it doesn't matter but my two cents had to get in there.
Yeah - some o' dat stuff was bunk but some was pretty killer. Also, I know a dude who was selling it for $800 a pound. Weed wasn't that expensive at that time either.
That dude bought a 1968 VW van that was like almost new for $1968 and a top-o'da-line Masi racing bicycle for $800, which was like dee most expensive bike you could get in dem daze. Crazy how times change....
Oh yeah that chainsaw guy was cool (still is)...heh heh
Yeah, JB, that was a pretty sweet Masi that that guy bought. Purchased with some serendipitous stash, I unna stand...
Back then, there were quite a few climbers riding fine cycles. Man, half the climbers I knew in Berkeley back then were riding a branded Colñago, Pogliaghi, Masi, Cinelli, Bianchi, or (even) a Schwinn Paramount! Expensive bikes, every one. Where did we ever get that kind of cash?
Were all those guys dealing drugs at Indian Rock, back then?
Sounds like Chainsaw should have kept smokin. The dude could use a j.
And Marley, die of lung cancer? You are wrong about that too.
"...in 1981, while jogging in New York's Central Park he collapsed, and it was discovered he suffered from cancer that had spread to his brain, lungs, and liver."
Can't be lung cancer if it spreads to the lungs.
Wait for it.... wait for it... let your heart rate rise just a little more... [btw, weed reduces your blood pressure]...
"In July 1977, Marley was found to have malignant melanoma in a football wound on his right hallux (big toe). Marley refused amputation, citing worries that the operation would affect his dancing, as well as the Rastafari belief that the body must be "whole":
“ Rasta no abide amputation. I don't allow a man to be dismantled. ”
—From the biography Catch a Fire"
A man who accepts his worldly condition, looks his death in the face, and chooses to live in accord with his beliefs while wanting nothing more than to spread happiness... well, we shouldn't let our kids be influenced by that.
Much better to disrespect him posthumously by spreading rumors about how he died so they fit with your beliefs.
Wes,right about that time(I was thinking 78, but, memory, WTF) we drove south from Laramie to see Bob and the Wailers @ redrocks. En route we heard on the radio that the concert was canceled 'cause Mr Marley broke his foot! instead, we visited a friend in Golden and had chinese food at some place that you could see a cap of rocky cliffs on table mesa(?)from.
"I hiked up there, didn't see any climbing, it's not as good as it looks," my friend or his brother said.
also missed the plane crash goldrush by timing of college spring break;friends that stayed in camp another week got the bird's eye lowdown, so to speak.
For those following the thread, here is an addition.
I just talked to Jack Dorn's brother and sister-in-law. Very nice people and judging by what has been said about Jack, it runs in the family. I'll be meeting with them in the near future and if anything interesting comes up, I'll be sure and post it. I know many here knew Jack and were friends with him.
I have followed this thread somewhat, not feeling the need to get involved. I will say, though, that much has not be said. And much may never be said, for one reason or another. Even with all these entries, only the surface has been tapped.
It's been two years since the first post in this thread. That's a lot of time for researching a book (I've never written a book so I'm guessing). Any idea if there will ever actually be a book about this? When, two more years?
This posting isn't intended to be a rant, so if anyone takes it as such I apologize.
If you have followed this thread from top to bottom, one of the things you will notice is that many that made the trek up to the plane thirty years ago post on SuperTopo today. The purpose of my thread is not to tell a story, it is to ask people to contact me with their stories so I can research the Yosemite experience surrounding the event. There is so much more to this story than what went on after the plane crashed and people made off with the dope. I spelled this out pretty clearly in my first posting. Since then so many have contacted me and provided me with a wealth of information that as the days progressed it seemed to me that it was only fair to post bits and pieces that I have uncovered. I do it so people can recall things that they have forgotten. Many have either responded to some of the stories or the photos that I have posted. It has worked out very well for me as well as them. Every time I interview someone I usually bring to them photos and stories about the event that they had no idea about. The exchange of information has been both directions. Take the story of Jack Dorn. His family knew nothing about the plane crash and its contents much less of Jack's involvement. Even the pilot's wife Pam has been learning about the event from angles that she never knew about.
I am not a writer by profession. I am an ex-mechanical engineer turned sales guy. I imagine that if I were making a living at cranking out novels I probably would have had at least one if not two finished by now as well as a screen play. Daily I spend anywhere from one to six hours doing phone and Internet research. I have traveled to three states to interview people face to face rather than just make a phone call.
All of my facts on this story must have at least three sources to confirm events that have been told to me by people. Printed documents have to have the name of the author, date, and the source of the publication. I have been given copies of newspaper articles that don't provide any of this. To research where this article came from and who wrote it thirty years ago is not an easy task considering I have my regular job to perform.
During the past two years I have found out many things about this event that had I gone with the original story and not spent any time really researching it, when it hit the printer you and many others would read it and know that it was just not true. If you read other accounts of this plane crash, and I don't mean just one, you will start to see just what I am talking about. Lets not forget about the stories from people that feel the need to participate even though they had nothing to do with it. Those stories have led me on some pretty wild goose chases. My intent is to tell the story and not expose people.
If you talk to one person about the event you will get a time line that they perceive as correct since they are speaking in the first person. They were there and remember it like it was yesterday. Talk to ten more and you quickly become aware that there are conflicting bits of information.
There will be one chapter dedicated to the rumors. Some of those will get a wink and a nod from those that have told the story from these angles thinking they heard the story from someone that knew. Or, as the old line goes, "I knew a guy that knew a guy that said he was there."
Just thought of a great story as a follow up on what I had just posted.
I have been contacted by a guy claiming his cousin spent time in Viet Nam with the pilot back in the late 60s and knew him well. After three emails from him I began to notice a couple of unusual consistencies in his text. He always started his sentences off with a lower case letter. He always used only the letter "u" instead of spelling out "you." And the more he wrote the worse his grammar and syntax became.
Today he started telling me that he has already spent considerable amount of his own money to help "this cause" and would like me to send him $2,000 as compensation to his son in the UK. After that he will then have his cousin get in touch with me.
So this is a new twist on the Nigerian letter scam operation.
I just read about this in Alpinist- maybe better late than never. I was the Valley Ranger who took the initial report of the plane crash in Jan. 1977. I have a few side stories to the main story from a former ranger's point of view. Email me if you want my stories.
As for the book. Its getting down to the wire. I'm now just tying up loose ends as far as the sequence of events go. To be honest, if I relied on everyone's 30 year old memory, the time line would look like that Jack In The Box ad for chipotle sauce where Jack's mouth looks like a mess of spaghetti. It wouldn't make sense nor would it be linear.
I have a few of the key players left to talk to as well as collect releases on some of the great photos that have been provided. I'm also planning on a trip up to the lake to take photos. That'll happen in a few weeks. I thought I'd wait until the Park was as peak tourist season before I headed out.
Way to keep researching this thoroughly, Licky. I have totally enjoyed tuning in from time to time and watching as key players or people who know them contact you one by one. This would have undoubtedly been a different (and weaker, possibly inaccurate) book had you simply gone with the information you originally received.
I'm a writer myself and when working on a project, people who have troubling composing a four-paragraph letter frequently ask me "When ya gonna be done writing that book?" and I reply "When it's finished!"
Tokes to you for sticking with it, and I hope you sell enough copies to earn a little bread -- thus, in your own hard-working way, you too will have profited from that 1977 plane crash, which would be totally appropriate and a delicious bit of irony that such a long-gone illegal cargo woudl still be generating at little income.
Thanks Mt. its been an interesting plus two years.
Yes, you are correct when you talk about going with the first story. Although what I'm finding that in many cases the stories only differ because two people were viewing an event from different angles. One person picked up or recalls something that another didn't. It doesn't mean that one was blowing smoke (so to speak) and the other wasn't. 30 years is a long time to ask someone to recall details of an event that was just a brief moment in their life.
I have struggled with communicating with you. I hadn't visited this thread for a long time. It hurts my head. I might be able to help with some background on Jack. We met and learned to climbing together as classmates in a CMC rock course in Aspen. He was the person I was most likely to climb with and we were tight. I was waiting for him to arrive to be my best man and was pretty pissed when he didn't show. I learned, through the grapevine, of his death when a mutual friend returned from the park in 77. I called out there to confirm and got to spend some hours on the phone with an investigator looking into his background. I could have told you he was from Utica and had a mom and brother alive then. Those of us that knew him in Aspen called him Pig. He climbed a little with Lou Dawson, Michael Kennedy, squaty Body Eric, Rich Jack, and others . I'd have to scratch my head to remember all the names. I stayed with him in the park and we did some climbs though he was new there and working alot. Anyway, email if you want. I have a few photos of ares we climbed but I may only have one old newspaper photo of him. I'd have to dig around a bit to find that stuff.
Time to pull the trigger on this baby! Some of us are getting old. We're going to start passing on without having read the thing. Plus my eyesite is going. My wife caught me this morning with my reading glasses on and a spare set tucked in my collar. Time to publish.
The book would already be at the publisher if it weren't for all the new information coming forward. Friends of the two pilots are coming up with new photos. There is an organization that is helping me do research on the history of the plane while it saw duty in WW II including photos of the crews. Then there is the matter of getting up to the Park to go through the records and take photos of the lake and the trail that Jack Dorn fell from.
I'd say that 90% of the research is complete. The conversion from notes to readable text in a way that you'd want to turn the page has been a bit tedious, but I'm making headway.
To be honest, this project was only going to take a couple of months. As each Christmas would approach I figured I'd have it ready for the holiday sales. I had no idea that it would lead me where it has and it keeps on keeping on.
So hang in there. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and its not the train.
To answer your question...all of the above. For those in the climbing community the story about the plane in the lake and the dope is probably of major interest. But those that knew the pilots are interested in how they got into the business and the events surrounding their death. Two weeks ago I attended my 40th high school reunion in Seattle. Most that attened it knew Jon Glisky, some very well. I must have told the story a dozen times to small groups all day and night long. None had any idea about what happended after he died.
Then there are those that knew about this plane because they are into what are referred to as Lockheed Big Twins. They lost track of this plane back in the mid70s as it had been misidentified by the Feds during the investigation. As it was, there were only 17 made and this was number 17. One is still flying around the country.
Then through out all of this is the debunking of the myth and rumors. I've been led on some pretty wild goose chases by people that knew they had no idea what went on, but decided over the years to develop their own spin on the event. Some were just not there and some that were only had part of the story and ended up filling in the gaps with what sounded right or what they were told by someone else.
But most of all, I wanted to find something good that came out of this event. There had to be people who's lives were actually made better. I found them and its their stories that have helped temper the black side of this story.
My name is Ron, I lived in Yosemite in 1976 and 1977, worked at the Ahwahnee Hotel. I am one of the so called "hikers" actually on showshoes, who found the airplane, or the wing as it turned out along the trail to Lower Merced Pass Lake and our ultimate destination, Ottoway Lake, in the Clark range. We never made Lower Merced Pass Lake, pity, I often wonder what would have happened if had and figured out what happened. When we returned to the valley after camping on Ottoway Lake I reported to the Rangers that we had found a wing in the high country and gave them the numbers from the wing. Well all hell broke lose and in the next few days the entire Valley knew the story of the plane crash.
In April 1977 I returned with seemingly the entire Valley and returned with a backpack full of pot. Which I quickly dried and sold to a friend in San Jose. The next year I went back to college and used the airplane money to make the move to San Diego and pay for my first two years of college. Something good did come from the "Loadstar Lightning"
Rich Schloss is a good guy and has interviewed me and we have spoken on the phone a few times since. He is trying to piece the story together from several angles. I personally don't think there is any need to be fearful, statute of limitations having long expired. If you really know something first hand, NOT HEARSAY, (there are all kinds of Valley myths), then I would encourage you to come forward and let's get the whole story out. I have learned so much from him and cleared up some of the myths I still believed about the event.
I HAVE PHOTOS FROM THE SHOWSHOE TRIP TO OTTOWAY LAKE WHEN WE FOUND HE WING AND THE POT SALVAGE IN APRIL ON-LINE at: http://public.fotki.com/RonLykins/travel/airplane_1977/
The first 7 or so are at the lake in April (chopping pot out of the ice) the others are the snowshoe trip when we found the wing, shots of thw wing included.
I look forward to reading Ricks book when it is realeased.
Hey Ron, good to see your post. Hope it helps those that are still not sure if they ought to contact me. Many still are. I talked to a guy today that gave me some helpful guidance regarding some of the publications that were about the event.
At the moment I'm piecing together the military history of the plane as well as a few loose ends. Getting closer.
As I recall it was Kodachrome64 which I shot most of the time in Yosemite (warmer), I then had prints made and scanned the prints some 30+ years later to make the digital photos that you saw on-line.
Boy wish I was 21 again, just hiked the Grand Canyon for Thanksgiving (full moon nearly was incredible). My 52 year old muscles are still sore but happy to have hiked the canyon. My arthritic left knee did better than I thought it would and I had a great time camping on Horeshoe Mesa.
Hey Rok...yeah, been a little while. Just when things start slowing down, I get contacted by a couple more people that figure into the story. Some from the climbing communitee and some from outside but well versed in other aspects of what went on. I truly am not without information which I'm thankful for.
Drop me a line or a call, we'll play a little catch up.
To give everyone an idea of how this story is panning out. I recently talked to one of the pilot's relatives. Just when I thought that they didn't want to discuss the event that resulted in the loss of a family member, they step forward providing a wealth of information that I didn't know.
And for those that knew Jack Dorn, his family had an image of a mountain carved onto his granite tombstone to show how much he was into mountains and climbing. Very nice.
A frigging frictional story; and don't think its anything else!!! Told to me by many faries over many fires.
While technically correct, I generally find it hard to find an answer to such a statement. In my confusion I didn’t move.
WHACK! "You S.O.B.!"
That was more familiar. Knowing now where I was, I rolled over to see the long black-haired naked woman leaning over me in the bed. She had the rail thin frame, face and udder lack of breast of Popeyes girl, Olive Oil.
"How could you sleep with her!" No question that. I quickly reviewed in my mind the opportunities I had recently had, and quickly came to the number of paramours I had had since meeting Olive. Zero. I had spent the last six months meeting all the available women of Mariposa, and had come to the conclusion that of the half dozen or so unattached possibilities open to me, all were crazy plus either butt-ugly or lesbian or quite old. Olive was the catch of Mariposa. But still stupid from sleep I asked "WHO?"
A little time passed before I realized that it was a dream she had had in which I was a very successful Casanova and lecher, unlike my real world self.
This might have quickly been worked out in a normal relationship, but Olive was a new-age type, who thought that Seth spoke to her in her dreams, telling her the future and past of all things. Either I had done it, or I WOULD do it, and there was no denying it. After having read ALL of the Seth books, I understood her verbal shorthand, and after I had quit going to the Ouija sessions (Ouija doesn’t seem to work around me, or so I was told) most of our problems had been more real world. I was unconcerned at Seths warnings. I had had worse in the last 6 months, and I felt I had made a good compromise.
Sanity is unrelated to life in a county without a single stoplight, it's unproductive even, and poverty is relative. Through the off-season, none of the firecrews, woodcutters or tourist panderers had work, everything depended on unemployment and sitting out the winter. I didn't much fit in because I was still rational. It is a big social liability of mine.
Like my not having had an actual regular job for almost a year. A couple weeks on a wood cutting crew hadnt made much. I had made up for some of that time by moving her stuff from Texas, and I had almost finished the two room addition on the house, but her patience was getting shorter as of late. Rebuilding the pump and fixing the plumbing could keep us going, but it didnt impress Mom and Dad.
Dont get me wrong. Olive had some good qualities. She could be sweet and forgiving. When bored her thoughts often turned to the practice of reproduction. Her parents were Real-Estate Millionaires living in a castle in central Texas. And she owned this 4 and a half acres of California scrub oak and manzanita, complete with the rattlesnakes. Near Yos.
I was happy with any compromises.
I got up to get a bowl of cereal, and had to face Sean and Kim, who at 6 and 4 were believers in Mommy. If she said I was a bastard, I certainly was. They had heard the words through the manufactured homes trailer-like walls, and knew their implication wasnt good.
Seeing how I knew I wasn’t going to get any action THIS morning, I told Olive that I was going for a drive up to the Valley to see how the spring thaw was coming.
I hopped into my white 64 Ford Galaxy two door with the unlikely 305 V-8 mustang engine and goosed it at high speed to the park and around the loop to C-4.
It was early afternoon and the camp was largely deserted. Too early for the crowds not yet out of classes, C-4 had only a few scattered low mountain tents in view. Except for a very large ugly green army cabin tent limply pitched, leaning over only a few feet from the parking lot.
Looking as out of place among the mountain tents as the Targis would have been, it represented the first familiar sight in the camp. Left over from the previous fall, it had belonged to a buddy for a while, but I knew not to rush inside, as ownership of such things changed all the time around here, and I had not been in camp for some months.
But coming out of the front flap was a guy I knew and soon enough I was inside, looking to catch up on the latest. As my guy handed me his bong and threw a baggie my way, we chatted. When I tried to toss the bag and bong back to him, he told me to keep the bag, and pulled out another even bigger, and loaded himself a lung-full. This was unheard of pretty much, as people living in $10 worth of canvas didn’t usually have a lot of stash to give away.
He said he had something to do and left, not to return. I went out, got my shoes and tried to work off some of the psychic energy my old lady had loaded me up with.
I came back around before dusk, and while the camp was still weirdly empty, a few more guys I knew were wandering around getting dinner ready. Chatter was minimal, but I started to get the news.
A half hour after dark, one of my buds ran off into the dark, to return with 3 guys, carrying packs. They were obviously very tired. Nothing unusual about that, but they were carrying full packs. Backpacks, not climbing packs. And they had a strange glow, strange smiles. The guys all clustered together, talking low. As I stepped closer, I could see into the opened top of one of the packs.
It was full of more weed than I had ever seen, and it was Magnificent bud. It represented as much money as I had made in a good long time. Ever... All total, ever. Moneywise, I had always been an underachiever. It had me in that moment... I was completely bowled over. In that instant, my life changed again.
I knew these guys. If it had been the unholy trio (Kalk, Bard and Werner) I wouldn’t have said a word, but these guys were still fully human, and I KNEW that whatever miserable bear dumpster full of snakes they had crawled through to get THAT, I could too.
"How do I get mine?" It never occurred to me that it was not the thing to do. No decision was rationally made. We guys all looked at each other, and we knew we was outta there, now, tonight. How could I ever pass up such a moment, phone the woman, drive home that night, broke and alone? The sound of opporkockety, tuning through the forest.
I got the story soon enough.
Within minutes one of our little group had run off to the payphone to make a call. Within minutes transportation was arranged to the trailhead. Within a few more minutes he had shown up and the 5 of us jammed into the bug and we were off, with me hugging myself in the middle of the back. Few words were said that I could hear, the two up front were talking quietly. Someone thought he knew the way, someone else seemed to be looking at a map by flashlight.
After emptying out I knew not where, we took our empty packs and started off. With only two of those crappy little Mallory’s that were so popular at the time between us, we took off jogging uphill.
Knowing the batteries would Never last the night, the guy in the front would flash his light on for an instant, leaving a corneal impression of the trail ahead which we would then run out as far as we could. The last guy in the line just followed the sound of the others along the trail.
FLASH, jog, jog, jog, jog, FLASH jog, jog, jog. Tripping and falling didn’t slow us down much, and we got used to the rhythm pretty fast, though it was as black as the inside of your head in the trees. But after a half-hour of so (how long? How should I know?) we began to hit solid frozen snow, which helped a little to intensify the dim bulbs glow in the dark.
But the snow had no tracks, and obscured the trail until we had totally lost it. Nevermind, we didn’t slow but kept heading up the draw, unseen around us.
Sometime after, we came upon the creek.
We spread out for a couple minutes, looking up and down for deadfall crossing the 12' wide stream, or a snag we could push over or rearrange, but there was nothing for a hundred yards in both directions. Too impatient to wait any longer I knew what we had to do.
Flinging my pack across to the other side with my down parka and polybottle inside, I knew my cheapskate ass was committed, and grabbing some bush, I slipped down the snowbank into the water. It was FAR deeper than I had hoped, and within a yard I was chest deep.
Jesus cold. Olive Oil cold. On the other side I unhesitatedly clawed my soaked ass up through the snowbank and stood dripping, covered in snow and looking at the others.
With a shrug the boys launched their packs and followed.
We took off again, running even faster, even just bobbing up and down as we tried to ignore the quickly frozen cotton jeans and t-shirts, re-thawing them and drying them with pure exertion.
FLASH! run,run,run,run; bumping into one another as we tried to stay close enough together to take advantage of the brief squirts of light, FLASH! run,run,run.
Just after dawn we met two guys coming our way. Packs bulging. A few words, some encouragement, (How far?) and we took off again, life easier as we had now dried out and the ice flaked off. And the light was sufficient for our needs. We burst out suddenly, unexpectedly onto the lake.
20 feet offshore was a hole the size of a coffin in the ice, next to a low fiberglass cone. A few items were scattered around; some conduit, a little scrap of yellow fiberglass and a bucket! But amazingly and best of all was an AX! The kind of ax you would steal from a forest service cache. We had not considered (I think) how to get through the ice. I hadnt.
Grabbing our new tools, we soon were making like lumberjacks at a chopping contest. Hard and fast as you can, whack! Whack-whack-whack! Tired? Tired yet? Hand-off! The holes would stay dry for a few minutes, the begin filling with water, ever faster as you chopped.
Laying out a pattern of holes on the ice 3' wide by 4 or 5 foot long, we would hack until the water flooding the 2 foot deep hole became a problem, then step aside while another guy would bail like a sailor in a sinking lifeboat, then jump aside before the guy with the ax split your skull on his next stroke. Moving too slowly (or too fast) I got in front of the ax-wielder and caught an upstoke square in the center of my thick glasses. I flung myself backwards on my ass a split instant before my thick eyeglass frames would have split, along with my face. The mark was obvious on my face, even to my finger.
Nobody even slowed down.
After three holes in addition to the original, we were getting a little tired and disappointed. Almost a checkerboard pattern of holes between what we now realized was the nose cone of the plane and the shore, and we had found nothing. Then we saw it. As the water rapidly refilled the hole, a brown stain in the ice, off to one side. Renewed frenzy and soon not One but TWO large burlap sacks came into view!
Too heavy to lift out of the ice filled water, we chopped a ramp and managed to drag them out without falling in, and looked at what we had. Two large burlap bags, one with two large X's sprayed in red and one with three.
We split the bags open and looked at an amazing sight. One bag was filled with 3 to 4 inch buds, and the other had stems, with the buds still attached, looking like a large feather, the buds were alternately arrayed on the foot-and-longer stems, first one side than the other, perfectly hand pinched and beautifully grown.
As we began putting huge soaking, frozen, compressed hunks of sack shaped ganga into our packs, dripping with green liquid, out of the woods came an absolutely Odd Couple. The first, a tiny man dressed like a lumberjack with a little black cap and behind him, a huge one like Paul Bunyon. They came up to us with no introductions and no hesitation and looked over our haul.
The big guy said nothing, the little one did all the talking, with a strange French-Canadian accent. Sounded like a Louisiana Cajun maybe.
We quickly showed them the next bag we had spotted under the ice and off to one side of our last hole. The next few minutes were incredible as the giant took the ax and in what seemed like seconds opened up a new hole, manfully tore the bag out of its frozen bed and stuffed their packs. Before we could finish our divvy and load, they were already gone back the way they came. We never saw them again.
Our loads were extreme for us, and water ran from our packs continuously as we helped each other lift the 100+ lb loads to our backs. Heading down the trail we assessed what we wanted to do as we passed another party heading in... The guys wanted to go out the shortest way, I think to Happy Isles. But my fear was that the rangers would be waiting to pick up anybody looking like us, as they had known about the plane crash for months. So I split off at the fork to the 4 mile trail. I never saw some of my guys again.
Exhausted by the run in and all the work, hauling the load with the smelly thaw liquids constantly running down my back I couldn’t make the exit with the trashed Mallory after dark, as I wanted, so I slept the night just off the trail, camouflaged by the log I crawled under. Upon wakening, with no energy due to the complete lack of food since the breakfast of cereal two days before, I struggled into my pack. A lot of the water had been squeezed out, and what was left was mostly re-frozen, but as the morning lightened it again began running a small stream down my leg and into my tennies.
I got to the valley floor and waited for the first shuttle to get me back to the lodge and my car. Stepping on to the rear exit, I saw the usual bunch of employees and geeks scattered around the seating. I moved to the last seat and tried to look like a tired backpacker after an epic, but couldn’t quite ignore the funny looks as the liquid pooled and stank on the floor of the bus.
But the ride was short, and before anybody could ask any questions I was off again. Nobody was following my paranoid ramble so I headed straight back to the car, and loaded up the trunk. I got in, started the car and let it warm up.
Home free! I pulled out backwards and as I completed the turn, shifting into drive, I saw the other huge green puddle.
Soon I knew the problem. My antifreeze had frozen, blowing out the freeze plug under the right motor mount. Where I couldn’t get to it, not for all the contraband in my pack.
I tried refilling the radiator at the gas station, but it was soon obvious that as soon as the engine started, any water that had not run out already would be pumped through the seam between the plug and the block in a very brief time. God hates me.
With nothing else to do, I started off, but by the time I got to El Cap meadow, my engine was overheating seriously. I started making trips from the nearby Merced with my two liter polybottle, pouring the water first over the outside the engine, then into the radiator. Two dozen trips and an hour later, the engine was cool enough to restart.
As I realized that I was SO obviously a wreck unlawfully rolling down the road, I began to worry. I pulled off several times, every time I got near water, and I made a hundred trips. Two liters at a time.
The steam was obvious, as was my personal stench. I was a cop magnet and I had to pass the Ranger Kiosk to get out of the park.
I parked a mile away from the exit, and let the car cool. I could already tell I was causing the engine damage as the smoke (always burned a little oil) was beginning to get more noticeable. As I pulled by the kiosk, the rangers seemed busy with collecting the fees on the other side, and I just slowed down, with a smile and a wave I slipped past the familiar face of the cute chicky-poo in the brown box, and slowly accelerated until I could put it in Neutral and coast.
Without the engine running, I had no brakes, so coasting down the miles of roads towards Mariposa was hideous choices between no power steering or brakes, or burning up my engine. Every few miles I had to stop and soak the engine, praying that no-one would try and help me, or report the ugly white car with the steam and smoke pouring out of it.
The worst was when the road didn’t follow the water. Then I had to let the thing cool off naturally. And the long uphill grades. I was now three days without eating and my patience was getting thin. But when I didn’t wait long enough, the engine would Immediately overheat again, and I wouldn’t have gone 2 miles. It was a tough drive.
I got up the driveway to me and Olives house after dark. About 10 or 11 pm. My engine was pouring black smoke, but in the night I didn’t care any longer. As I staggered up to the door, Olive, having heard the rattling of my engine in its death throes, came out and blocked my passage.
"What are you doing here!"
"I live here?"
She didn’t let me pass, and didn’t want to listen to my story. "You cannot come in!"
I had forgot that I had left three days earlier, after a fight. Without my return, and without a phone call explaining myself, She had decided that I had gotten fed up and left her. As had happened a few times before, I guess.
Ever practical, she had gone straight down to the bar on that night, and picked a new boyfriend from the available choices there. Her latest pick of the litter had a big chainsaw and a job in the summer, but as he didnt climb, I figgured he was a loser.
But He was inside and she, knowing my violent streak (...riighht...) didn’t want me to know who he was or meet the little cuckholer. I was to spend the night in the outbuilding.
Too damn weak, tired and hungry to argue, that’s what I did.
Little was I to know at the time, but the next few weeks were to make getting the stash home look easy. I had just spent the last 6 months living in Mariposa, where nobody had the money to purchase 50 lbs of Sheef, and I didn’t really know anybody who dealt in such quantities anywhere else either. Olive was against anything like dealing, though she enjoyed the herb, she was not going to be happy when she heard the story.
Almost everybody I really trusted already HAD all the sh#t they could carry, and it was exactly like mine. "Flooding" the market as it were. I had never turned more than a few ounces of dirtweed before. And I wasn’t the dealer type.
See... Dealers are friendly trust-worthy people who know LOTS of other friendly trust-worthy people; and I was an irritating nerd with thick glasses, with no job, no money and suddenly no home; about 800 miles from where I had spent most of the last 5 years... And my car didn’t have a single valve seal remaining.
And of course my old lady, Olive Oil, who I had depended on, was inside, getting laid without me and feeling lucky.
The next couple of months was a hard working period, my relationship with Olive ended, and my life was changed. The laws of unintended consequences rule human life. What can be said of other lives and possibilities, choices made and not made.In this case it was as if the airplane had fallen on me. It sheared me away in a minute from my life up to that moment and sent me spinning off to another life.
My schooling was about to recommence, on all kinds of levels and I often wished I had just managed to marry the skinny woman and kept the house in the county with the two kids. And not heard about the airplane at all. But that's not what didn't happen in this other fictional account of several rokjox. Who got rolled into one.
Edit: Things aren't really all that much better now. In some ways I still have that dread feeling that times are uncertain, and that I could be spun off into another world at any time by an unknown stimulus or agent. Long retired from any pretense at this stuff, I cling nervously to what I again have.
People keep contacting me with new info on everything from the pilots to the plane to the investigation. Same with photos. I hear from at least one person each week with more tips. So I continue to sort, research, catalog, and so on. I now have names of all the small towns in Mexico that the smoke traveled through on its way to Lower Merced Pass Lake. Quite a trip with trucks, vans and even fishing boats long before the plane.
A trip up to the lake is planned this spring/summer. So far it will include Ron Lykins (found the wing), Jon Glisky's (one of the two pilots)sister, maybe Jeff Nelson's (other pilot) cousin, and myself. No telling how many might make it by then. I'll keep everyone up to date on the event.
Heroes shouldnt wind up in jail. Maybe what they did was more greed then heroism. Young people today got plenty of ways to mess themselves up, they dont need to look to old men who got their start in financial security by dealing. Less talented people are always looking for a way to get around the system.
During Easter evening, my pack was so heavy that I alternated between walking forward uphill and walking backwards uphill to the trailhead. We scouted it good, but there was no danger. We made our way to the 41 exit, which was also empty, and on to Summerdale for a good night rest finally. The next morning, at Silvertip Lodge (Fishcamp), we feasted on a huge greasy breakfast. Afterwards, as we walked to the parking lot and started to climb into my 66’ VW camper, a kind Fresno Co. Sheriff pulled up along the passenger side. As his squeaky, black, shiny boots stepped to the pavement, the melting and leaking juice of our “lode” dripped and flowed from the van past him with that special “Airplane” aroma. We all acted casual, said hello, closed the doors, and headed down to Fresno for the next step . . . .
Goddammit, jiimmy. I can't believe somebody wants to jump into this with "won't somebody think of the children?" Stories (and especially histories) are not necessarily about heroes for young people to emulate.
For those following this saga. Tomorrow I meet with one of the family members of one of the pilots. This site has been very helpful in helping them understand what went on up at the lake after their loss. Everyone's posts, for the most part have provided a little insight into what the event was for others outside of the drug running group.
Let me also add that Jack Dorn's family knew nothing about the plane crash, the dope, or any of the mystery surrounding his death.
Just spoke with the Park Ranger that took the initial report from Ron Lykins about a wing. He was also one of two that immediately went up to the lake via chopper to find the wing. Amazing memory that some people have after all these years. He told it like he was right there.
I think it is a good thing to accurately chronical history. One can never can predict what bit of information will be useful at some future time. Just as with empiric science which establishes bits of information piece by piece. One never knows when a bit of empiric information will be critical to someone else's research and allow that person to develop something hugely important. Same with historical research - one just never knows. We do the most, when we all work together towards common goals.
Maybe I don't understand your last entry about the ranger who took the initial report about the wing. I do not need to be in the book or anything. I took the initial report of the crash being found and I called it in to Scott Air Force Base. Shortly after Scott Air Force Base called me back, a lot of other rangers came into work that Sunday night and I was off the case - which was fine by me. There were no helicopeter flights until the next day. The reporting party told me they found the tail of the plane and they had the call numbers from the tail.
I don't remember and never knew a lot of other details about the early days of the investigation. And I told you by phone everything else I knew about the whole episode. I have a very distinct memory of that Sunday afternoon, getting the initial report, calling Scott, etc. and no other ranger was around during that time.
As a reporter for the Los Angeles Times on Jun 2, 1994 I wrote a story-review about the premier showing of Cliffhanger in Los Angeles. The movie story, absurd in many ways, involves millions in cash tossed from a plane onto the peaks. The story was supposed to be in the Rockies, but it was filmed in the Dolomites because director Rene Harlin (no relation, I'm sure) said the Rockies were "too inaccessible" but more likely that they could not film in wilderness areas. Those involved in the filming includede David Breahears. Ron Kauk, Wolfgang Gullick, Jim Bridwell and Georgia Phipps, then a colleague of mine on the AAC board of directors, with an incredible stunt fall. Some assumed, as I wrote, that the movie was based on Jeff Long's novel "Angels of Flight." But co-producer Gene Hines said he conceived of Cliffhanger with John Long after seeing a television film of Yosemite climbing and getting to know some Yosemite climbers. He said Jeff Long had no special rights to the story since John had been in Yosemite at the time and knew all about the Merced Lake crash. I wrote that the script finally emerged after "traveling a tortuous trail fraught with legal threats..." Indeed, the credits say the film was "based on a premise by John Long and ranks Hines as one of three co-producers, not as a creator." That stirred a hornet's nest within the production company, as John may remember. Coleco--it may have been Harlin--called and railed at me, claiming there never was any threat of a lawsuit and threatened me with all sorts of dire things. I decided then never to mess with those movie people. If any apologies are due to John Long over this matter, I heartily offer them now, with great admiration for his work, some years later.
I really liked his story, also, and I have been trying to get him to write another chapter but he has been quite resistive, thus far. I mean it is a fascinating story. Some nonsense about he does not have enough time with the 10 edit policy to clean it all up. Can you believe that? Uh, Rox, it is called "Wordprocessor" (ahem, ahem). You write it FIRST in the word processor and THEN you post it.
Maybe he wants us to buy his book. I'm OK with that, Rox. I'll buy your book but could we have another chapter or so. I mean if you get us hooked then we will all most surely buy your book to finish the story. You know, dangle the carrot, Man.
Sh#t, Rox, if I had something neat like that to write about, I surely would do so. I'd love to write a story like that. You "gots the stuff" to write about so let's get going with this thing. I mean are we suppose to plead with you or what?
Speaking of pleading, that reminds me of something amusing. Remember when when I was teasing Crowley about making it with Ann Coulter and he told me he wouldn't "touch that bitch with a ten foot pole." And then I said - "But Crowley, what if she begged you to do her. You know Crowley what if she absolutely BEGGED you to do her?" Next thing you know, he posts a picture of Ann Coulter, with the caption "Please, Crowley, PLEASE." Too funny.
You know, I miss Crowley even though it has been a tad more peaceful here of late. Maybe it has been TOO peaceful? If you are reading this, Crowley. Be well. I miss you.
A new twist to the story. I am now hunting down any info about Nadim Melkonian. I know he died in 2006. I'm looking for anyone that knew him during the plane crash period of the winter of 76/77. Can anyone help?
Another update. Of all the Federal agencies that I have sent FOIA requests, only Yosemite and the DEA have stepped up to the plate. The others claim that files and reports have "probably been destroyed" due to the passage of time. Ya gotta love it.
Whats been interesting has been that many of the agencies tell me that what I'm asking for no longer exists. Yet I have a copy of it in my hands as I talk to them on the phone. I have great sources that are obviously better than the clerks in the office.
Of all the government agencies that I didn't expect to step up to the plate, believe it or not....DEA has come through. Amazing to say the least! So stay tuned as I trickle some of the goodies that I find out. This ought to be great stuff.
This evening I was contacted by a guy that was one of the chief mechanics for the Dee Howard Company from the 50s. This was the company that did the conversion of the PV-1 Ventura to what it was when it went down in Lower Merced Pass Lake. I'll be meeting with him soon to hear some of his stories about this plane. They only produced 17 and all were accounted for except this one. Here is a link to a site that shows the only one of the original 17 still flying. Guess I'm letting the cat out of the bag.
Ken...Yep, thats one of those major issues. I talked to the guy that flys that plane on the web site. He agreed that if the purtty interior was stripped down, the load would be...well, lets just say it would have been a hell of a lot more.
I have a letter from the FBI that says Jack Dorn was the guy that found not only the black book, but also the wallet of one of the two pilots. The report says he removed a fairly good amount of bucks from it.
This is a letter from Clarence Kelly, Director of the FBI at the time.
What would the FBI know about it? Nobody told them anything.
I still can't believe I was inches from those huge engines and props and never saw any hint of them.
Hows it coming? We are still breathless. By now we thought you had forgotten about the book thing. When do we get our advance copies to proof and vet for accuracy? Seems like you got all the major components, plus, plus.
You are going to have to throw out 2/3 of the stuff you got already, nobody is going to buy 18" of book unless its a dictionary.
The story is written, but people are still contacting me with new stories and information. Some of it fantastic as always and some of it that takes me out on "wild goose chases" that turn out to be totally bogus.
I'm waiting for the DEA to come up with their package. That ought to be interesting.
I found a guy that used to fly the plane in Canada before it was modified. So his stories will be included.
I'm pretty sure I have the time line put together in an accurate sequence of events. That was a major hurdle from the get go.
As for remembering the 70s, for the little things most people seem to have problems, but since this was no little event in just about any player's life, the memories are very clear.
Sorry Licky, I wasn't referring to your book, just reacting to the many posts that miss the mark. I'm sure you've done an exhuastive amount of research and found some interesting stories about the Yosemite Klondike and all the tragedies that followed.
If you start at the beginning of this thread and read between the lines you'll hear a bunch of amazing stories. My favorite posts are those by "Chainsaw" and the support I received by the followers/participants in this event.
After 3 years and 2 months of these posts on the taco, it's amazing you still have interest in this book. I guess it takes that long to get something done right. You might want to consider publishing what you have since waiting for all of the information might mean never publishing the book. It would be a huge disappointment to never see it after following these posts for so many years.
Jack did find, with one other person, $1,600 in 50 dollar bills and the book in a wallet in a down jacket embedded in ice near the nose cone. How do I know? Can't say! I was dating a girl who worked in the Wells Fargo bank during that time and apparently the wet bills had a distinctive smell.
Has anyone documented all the folks that died after the Loadstar klondike? Not saying that it had anything to do with the crash but there were several rather unfortunate souls that didn't live to tell their grandkids about it. Jack for one. That was a weird deal. Years later, Mark Tozier was struck by lightning. Many other strange happenings in folks lives just sort of happened after that. If I remember right, the black book, wallet and human remains in a sock were all found at the same time.
Many 'o mustache was flared by that stuff. I'm sure the fumes had to be rather unhealthy.
You mean the one with Playboy center-fold pin-ups pasted all over the interior? Yeah, I remember that. When I knew Jack he was 30, I was maybe 19 and I remember discussing amongst my peers how cool it was that this "really old dude" could just hang with the rest of us. All we could fathom was, "man I hope we're all that cool when we're 30!"
rectorsquid...Unlike a novel where holes in the facts can be filled in with what ever sounds good, this book will be a historical accounting of the event. I'm sure if you bought a publication claiming to be a true historical book about an event you knew something about and found missing facts, or even worse, unsubstantiated facts based on nothing more than rumor you'd feel like your money was not well spent. For that reason I am taking my time, researching every story, backing up my facts, and am constantly finding out new stories.
Ken...funny, that was the exact amount that the Feebies have in their report. Ahhhh..now ya see rector, this is what I'm talking about. An FBI report doesn't make it fact, only that someone put it on paper. Back that up with a few comments from people that knew people that were there and pretty soon I get to the meat and potatoes. And it has taken +3 years to get the FBI report, but it only took a few months to hear about the wallet and its contents.
By the way, if anyone can refresh my memory as to how to post a photo on this thread, I have a few of Jack Dorn.
Its much harder to tell than to do, as when you try and show the "code" it disappears.
First, the pics have to be on the internet somewhere already. Most of us use a "hosting" service like imageshak. Then you get the "address" of the image on your clipboard and copy it to the "reply" window like you always use.
Take the three letters "img" and put them in square brackets. They go with the brackets in the front of the image address. Then take the four letters "/img" (also within square brackets) and place them at the end. Then post.
My version says there were 34 $50 bills in the wallet. At least that's what some dude at some lake said when he showed them to me. Man, was he trippin; headed to the valley with his lode.
That was the week of April 4 1977, probably the 5th or 6th. Bumped into Roger Banister (RIP) on the trail that day, as well as others left unnamed. Camped downstream with a party of gold diggers with a warm fire.
Either they had completely redesigned shorter engines or both wings were missing. I could just not have stood on the ice with the nosecone sticking out as far as it was and not seen those engine props and little spinner cones. It just blows me away to see that. But I got no idea just which way the plane might have been setting in the water. It was so close to shore that I thought (at the time) it was a Cessna sized thing, like Sky King used to fly in the TV show. The water must have been VERY deep there for the plane to be setting on its tail like it was. That is a HUGE plane.
I still cannot imagine how it came in on a dive steep enough to stop where it did, and still have broken off the tree tops just a hundred (?) yards away and 50' - 65' feet or a little more up. The angles looked odd to me at the time, but I was too busy to worry about it.
I last saw Jack just after I got back from the trip. My car was broken and spewing radiator water everywhere and I wanted some stopleak to try and fix it enough to get home to Mariposa. He must have had great eyesight. He was standing on the rear deck of the Village store, to the left of the main exits from my viewpoint, and I was clear across at the rear of the parking lot. He yelled at me by name and knew where I had been, asking me how it had come out. I was nervous at having been "made" so soon after returning, and my trunk was still full of the stuff, so I didn't want to talk much, and we were yelling back and forth all that way, but he said he was leaving soon to go up.
He always seemed so straight to me, not the hippie type. More the ex-GI type. I just didnt make friends easy and he wasnt a buddy type to me.
That picture doesn't look at all like I remember him. I guess between my bad eyesight and my bad memory I just dont recall him right. Weird. It seems really weird looking at that photo.
Here is a total Non-Sequitur. For the life of me, it must be a false memory or he was making a joke, but I remember him making some cracks about working for the CIA or somebody, and that was a turnoff to me.
Has to be a bad memory.
I got no clue where it comes from, just an odd memory of when I first met him, setting on a picnic table. Can't be true. He had to be joking and I took it badly. I really hesitated to even write it here.
I had a "vivid" recollection of a particular chair (from a hospital wherein I worked) in a scenario where said chair was involved in a lawsuit. I was summoned to a deposition wherein I gave a very detailed description of the chair including its gray microfiber fabric upholstery and the particular texture of the fabric - along with a description of the contours of the chair. My testimony was very detailed and delivered in an articulate, authoritative manner based on my vivid recollection of the chair. No one questioned the veracity of anything I was saying and it was all entered into the record.
More than a year or so (after said deposition) then past. Once again, I was again summoned to be appear in court so as to testify about the events surrounding the chair. I was asked to identify the chair in question. There in court, directly in front of me - approximately 10 feet from the witness stand - was the chair. It was (gray) plastic (!) on a metal frame with absolutely no upholstering, what-so-ever. I "remembered" in detail something which never actually existed and then gave sworn testimony about it. Worse yet, not one single attorney nor anyone else involved involved in the case ever noticed the gross discrepancy between my detailed description of the chair at the deposition and the actual characteristics of the chair. I was literally stunned when I gazed upon the chair which I had so vividly "remembered."
I got a weird memory, too. I remember things that I read much better than anything else. My eyesight is so bad that nobody would believe it, and I didn't get glasses until the 5th grade. I think it messed up my facial recognition memory. I can identify people by their voices MUCH better than from their faces. Faces change so much on some people, voices seem to never change. Like Sean Connery, as young 007 or as Indiana Jones father, they look completely different, but that Voice is completely distinctive.
I have learned to trust certain memories and distrust others.
Lois weren't you previously asked to stay clear of this thread?
This event was an iconic moment in US climbing history and you have no idea what you are talking about. Stick to the political threads where no one cares how much drift you create.
My apologies. I did not realize that this thread had the sort of implications you reference nor did I recall ever being asked to steer clear of it. My bad. Of course, if my presence on this thread is causing a problem, I can certainly avoid posting on it. I don't remember ever being asked to do so before.
Unfortunately, I am now fascinated by your reference to "iconic moment in US climbing history" which, it seems, only serves now to peak my curiosity. Evidently, I missed something. Maybe you or someone else could post the reason why this is so. Then, I won't be tempted to follow the thread so as to figure out what I missed and, in that way, continue to annoy you.
Call me simplistic and naive but here is what I thought happened. I though a plane loaded with pot (not a particularly unusual occurrence given the amount of stuff in this country) was traveling inbound, en route to making a delivery. Sadly, it crashed into a lake on public lands in CA, killing the pilot. The pilot had a loving wife and family who understandably mourned his loss. There remained some question - still unresolved - as to whether the pilot actually knew the nature of the cargo he was hired to transport.
I also thought that some very able-bodied (and pot-loving) persons - who just so happened to be climbers - came upon the wreckage quite accidentally. These men then hauled huge amounts of water/gasoline-soaked weed out on their backs in 100 lb loads and subsequently sold it for considerable profits. The statute of limitations has run out concerning any crime surrounding these activities so at least one of the persons is willing to post about it. There is also some debate as to whether the windfall profits so procured actually helped or hindered one of the "entrepreneurs" over the long run.
A federal investigation was (predictably) made of the events in question and there remains - to this day - considerable controversy surrounding who knew what about the events in question and/or why it happened.
Meanwhile, a particular writer (who posts here) has been investigating the events over the past several years - interviewing large numbers of people - and plans to publish a book about these happenings. Some people, who were actively involved in some of these events are not thrilled to death with the publishing said book and wish the whole thing could be permanently forgotten and/or put to rest. Other people encourage the investigation/publication and would like to buy the book when available.
Call me stupid and naive but I thought that was the gist of all of this. Am I missing something important which is known to everyone else but me. I thought the only connection to "climbing" was the fact that some of the men who discovered the wreckage and hauled out the weed on their backs just so happened to be climbers. They could just as easily been strong plumbers or roofers (capable of hauling large loads) who were out on a recreational hike.
"There remained some question - still unresolved - as to whether the pilot actually knew the nature of the cargo he was hired to transport." LEB.
Where did you get that? I cannot imagine a pilot setting on that much reefer not knowing WHAT was in his plane. With a few pounds of cocaine and a pocket full of SILVER CERTIFICATE 50's? And he didnt notice that his load was heavily loaded on a dirt field in Baja by a bunch of Juans with guns either, I suppose? (Just another day loading gunny sacks of grain... at a million dollars a load)
Collectors items are not really 50 dollar bills by the way. Shows how old are the millions of baled dollars that are still in drug lords hands. ANybody think this might be why we have had 4 or 5 re-issues of money that now looks like Bolivian currency? Those guys had made MANY such runs, they were running a milk route (old reference to a scheduled everyday event). At least according to some stuff Licky posted. Likely the only unusual thing about that last trip WAS the crash.
Maybe he "knew" and maybe he didn't. Maybe he did not want to "know" so he just turned a blind eye. The man had a wife and children to support. There but the grace of God.......etc. I try not be be judgmental about such things. Perhaps he had a lot of bills to pay and this was simply an expedient way to make money if he did not probe too deeply as to the details
As for small air-craft crashes, they occur all the time. There is absolutely nothing at all out of the ordinary about a small aircraft crashing.
Remember the line from Godfather I - "Relax, if I wanted you dead, you'd be dead already" Same principle applies here.
You GOT to be kidding. A pilot MUST know all about any cargo so big. And his plane was not "small". It was a medium sized, specially overhauled and outfitted cruiser. A pilot MUST know the takeoff weight, the way the load is loaded, how its restrained, and a BUNCH more.
Where DID you get the idea he didnt KNOW? You dont fly to a dirt airstrip in Mexico and watch guys load your plane with bales that stink and are marked with X's without KNOWING. You DONT fly a route at low altitude along the backbone of the Sierras without KNOWING what you are doing and WHY.
You think he was just going to fly to a commercial airport in the US and turn his cargo over to Customs inspection? Who was going to UNLOAD the Plane and where? He was violating all KINDS of FAA and Customs regulations, and HE DIDNT KNOW?
(HA-HA-ha! OMG, and all the rest. I'm laughing at YOU Lois. Is there any NEED to point out the doublethink and the denial that your brain illustrates any further? You demonstrate CLEARLY that a technically trained person can STILL be clueless and lack analytical insight anywhere outside their trained field, IF THEY subconsciously WANT TO BE...)
Lois, you really need a book to tell you this kind of stuff?
But he had bills to pay, and a family to support...
Sounds like the tweekers I've met in Mendo, "I have to make Meth. I can't get a job because of the permanent brain damage I've suffered from years of Meth abuse and Welfare doesn't give me enough to support my kids and addiction."
In the end, any pilot that does "know" what he is carrying deserves the fate handed him. Fortunately he didn't kill anyone else while "supporting" his family.
You all surprise me. OK, I will concede the point - I will agree that, in all likelihood, the pilot knew what he was hauling and so did the co-pilot. But they are both long dead now and somehow it does not seem right to beat up on him (them) now. Good people sometimes get caught up in not-so-good things. Humans make mistakes. Somehow, Rox, I would have expected you to be just a tad more charitable on this particular subject. You ever amaze me. Sometimes, to coin a phrase, sh#t happens.
LEB: Those people who smuggle weed, or grow it, are participating in an act of civil disobediaence. We KNOW (believe me) that its illegal, yet we still produce and market it. and Use it. We KNOW what ew are doing and we disagree with the law. The way you get laws changed in society that you disagree with is to flagrantly disobey it.
The man was PROUD to do what he did, most likely. It was a pride he could not express to the average public, but he was doing what he WANTED to. He made the trip MANY times. He was a MAN, he didnt kowtow to the law, he violated it. He lost his personal game, and surely would have regretted that, but I do him no disrespect when I say that he knew what he was doing. He was a MAN and he (they) did what men DO. He fought the law with his life. He didnt cry and he didnt wienie, he did what had to be done with his skills, and somebody paid him for his boldness.
Actually, ALL those who played the game that day were bold. We heard about his attempt and his loss, and we didnt cry, we were BOLD. I KNEW that I was going up against the law when I went after the ganja. I knew I would be rewarded if I did amke it. It was WHY we went in under the cover of a frozen night. We didnt chicken out, we gave ourselves the best chance we could, and we WENT for it. The dead pilots brought the crop as far as they could. WE went in and brought it the rest of the way. We brought it HOME. We Finished his job. With boldness and facing the risk head on.
The pilots ex-WIFE reads this thread Lois. Do you think she thinks of her dead husband as a chump who didnt KNOW what he was hauling and doing? Hell NO. She loved him for his skills and his boldness. She KNEW who she married. And Licky Married HER, and now gives her ex-husband's life a telling for ALL their sakes. He ISNT writing the story of a loser. He is writing of a great adventure, and of great adventurers. And if he is good, if he does it right, he will be rewarded.
My vision is gone, I can hardly see. I will edit this tomorrow and make it better.
Cue "Smugglers Blues"...WArren Zephon, why cant we embed sound in our posts?
So Rox, you still have the gift of life that he does not. I would invite you to enjoy (and appreciate) your gift and be grateful for the chance to enjoy more life than others had. Sometimes, Rox, it does not seem like you are all that appreciative of it - for all the bitching you ever do (about anything and everything). Appreciate the simplest yet beautiful things. Maybe his wife wishes she could bake a pie for him the way your wife does for you.
You are quite correct but sometimes it is difficult to find a venue to speak with a particular person - in this case Rox. At times, one wants to seize the moment to make a point - with a mind toward helping that person see something. You then get torn between trying to communicate an important point to with someone you really like (and want to help) and yet not "trashing" someone else's thread by taking a point off topic. It is a fine line to walk and sometimes it is a no-win situation. This is one such case.
First off Lois, you are the one that is speculating. If you read this thread from the get go you will learn the answers to many of your questions. I have posted in the past.
Jon Glisky and Jeff Nelson knew exactly what they were hauling. They had been doing this for five years. The plane was one of five that Glisky had owned. Not one at a time, but at the same time. At one point in their past they had attempted to set their own record at 14 trips in 14 days just to see if they could do it.
As for letting the dead lay. It was Jon's wife Pam that first approached me to start a book about their drug running days. It was no secret, but the rumors (as you have speculated) turned into facts after they had been told enough times, and they in turn turned into history. Most either totally bogus or modified into something unbelievable. Such as "...maybe they didn't know what the cargo was." Maybe is the operative word.
I can appreciate everyone sitting around spinning yarns about what might have gone on. The story really does have some great twists and turns that can stand by themselves without embellishing.
Well, I personally don't approve of drug hauling but I am very saddened that both pilots are now dead. I do even more object, however, to speaking about the dead when they are not hear to defend themselves nor explain why they did whatever it is that they did. I am sure they were both very decent men, overall, and had their reasons - whatever it was - for hauling drugs. I just wish they did not have to die so young over something as worthless as drugs.
As for the widow (or rather one of the widows), it has come to my attention that you are now married to her and she is having a good life with you. That is a very good thing and I am glad that the story appears to be having a happy ending. I will be reading your book once it comes out so hurry up and publish it.
Well, I suppose one could speculate and say that a plane could crash and tragically kill the pilots no matter what they were hauling. Absolutely true - he could have crashed hauling baby formula but that is not how it went down. He crashed hauling drugs and I don't think it was worth his (their) life or the grief it caused his loving family.
Absolutely, it would be just as tragic no matter what was his cargo and he would be just as dead no matter what BUT the fact is that his cargo was illicit drugs. To me that makes his death seem all that much more senseless. Call me irrational but it does. Rox's comments aside, I personally do not think it was worth these men dying over and I wish it did not have to happen. But then I do not run the universe so the choice and decisions were not mine to make.
Lois posted: "As for the widow (or rather one of the widows), it has come to my attention that you are now married to her and she is having a good life with you. That is a very good thing and I am glad that the story appears to be having a happy ending. I will be reading your book once it comes out so hurry up and publish it."
First,I hate to put water on your continued speculation, but we are not married. Never have been, probably never will be.
Second, there have not been any comments about widow(s), so again, it is a reach to assume there is a second widow rather than to simply ask.
Well Rox said you married her and I usually take what he says at face value. Apparently he was mistaken. Anyway, when is the book coming out - it has been years now in the writing. Maybe if you'd just hurry up and publish this book, all the speculation and misinformation would stop. I'll buy it; others will also so lets get going here.
As for the other pilot who died, no doubt someone or someones morned his loss. Tragic regardless of whether or not he was married, no?
Hey, Jay, I guess we are just going to have to buy his book assuming this man ever gets around to publishing it. I mean it's been at least three years now that I have known about it. I'd say it is high time to wrap it up and go to press. Maybe you and I could share a copy
sorry karl, must of not read it correctly, anyway just can't see what the bothers about, a bunch of broke climber stole dope from a dope dealer, and some got rich, so what???
Why is that so interesting, I've heard about it ever since I rolled into the valley about 31 years ago.
I had to steal food and can and all the other things we did back then, but I am sure not proud of it. Somebody please explain it to me. Why do modern climber think that what we did was so romantic, old school or core. It's a bunch of jive, it sucked, we didn't have any money or rich parents and did what we had to do.
Many of that generation are still living the bum life, it's really sad, arrested development maybe. My heros in climbing are the guys who moved on and started lives outside climbing and now make an honest living.
Well I can just hardly wait to read about my Good Buddy, Rox, in all of this. I do hope Mr. Licky will be covering him and his covert activities, as well. I've tried a zillion times to get Rox to write his story but he is a stubborn old coot and simply will not do so. I'd buy HIS book any day.
Anyway, I am sure Mr. L has an interesting story to tell and I am confident he will tell it well. I am game to buy his book. Now if we could just get him to publish it, everyone would be happy - well most everyone. Rox, of course, will never be happy, no matter what. Rox specializes in being miserable - it is his reason d'etre. You know that line from Godfather I which goes something to the effect of "Relax, if I wanted you dead, you'd be dead already." Probably same deal here.
It is quite simple. Because as we become old farts, we like to sit around chatting with one another reminiscing about some of the things we used to do. The young'ns are now out doing THEIR thing and someday they will be old farts too. Someday, THEY will reminisce about the stuff they are doing now (and we'll all be long dead). And so the cycle goes on.
In good old capitalistic USA, if you tell a story well enough, other people will pay (buy the book) to hear it. Mr. L has a story to tell and if he does it well enough so that others want to buy his book, more power to him. This is America and nobody ever said you can't make a few bucks doing your thing.
Lois posted: "...I'd say it is high time to wrap it up and go to press."
So if I understand you, you don't really mind if a historical book is incomplete and incorrect just as long as it gets into your hands. Again, this isn't a novel like those before it.
When the book goes to print it will contain only facts, not speculation. All of the facts will have been researched and documented. If there is a story that someone tells from a second person's point of view, it will be researched as well. If it can't be supported with fact it won't be published.