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The Legend (and Truth) of Yosemite’s Dope Plane Crash

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The Legend (and Truth) of Yosemite's Dope Plane Crash

One winter morning in 1977, two young waiters at The Ahwahnee hotel—crown jewel of national park lodges – set out on snowshoes for an over-nighter in the Yosemite backcountry, dropping LSD for good measure. Six miles out they found an airplane wing and a debris trail. Once the acid wore off, they beat it back to the valley and alerted rangers of a probable plane wreck. Agents from The National Transportation Safety Board, the Federal Aviation Administration, the DEA, and Customs, quickly assembled in the valley.

Customs sent a Vietnam-era Huey from San Diego to shuttle the Feds to the crash site, at Lower Merced Pass Lake, just below timberline and 16 rugged miles from Valley Central. Over the following days, federal officers hauled out over 3,000 pounds Mexican marijuana. Then logistics and an approaching storm shut down the operation. Given the waist-deep snow and marathon trudge from the Valley floor, the park superintendent chose to wait for the spring thaw to complete their recovery operation. Divers couldn’t extract the bodies of the pilot and co-pilot, who were left entombed in the frozen cockpit.

The post The Legend (and Truth) of Yosemite’s Dope Plane Crash appeared first on Climbing.

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