Around these parts, it's infamously known as “Sierra cement.” That’s the cold, crusty snow that contributed to a rash of snowplay-related injuries during the New Year’s weekend in the nearby national parks. There were nearly a dozen of these sliding injuries that were reported to National Park Service rangers.
Called “sliding” because now snowplayers will slide down an embankment of snow on everything from a piece of foam, cardboard, or a plastic snow circle to even an old-school wooden sled with a steering rope attached to a rudder. But when the icy snow has been setting up in the extreme cold for several days, the resulting crust is rock hard and dangerous.
Add to the icy conditions the fact that most folks who go sliding on the hills at Wolverton (Sequoia National Park) or Big Stump (just inside the entrance to Kings Canyon National Park) are not experienced in the snow; in fact, some have never even seen snow prior to their winter visit to the parks.
Of the 11 injuries reported, seven were females and four were males. Ages of the injured ranged from 11 to 45. All were from California except for a man and woman from Argentina.
A 45-year-old female from Los Angeles suffered a possible broken leg at Wolverton; a male and female playing at Big Stump suffered head injuries.
In response to the dangerous conditions, park rangers have temporarily closed these two designated snowplay areas until the next significant snow.