Lawrence Stanback, 60, of San Francisco, was found unconscious by park wardens in Death Valley National Park after staff have received a report from someone who may have died of heat stroke; Stanback was pronounced dead at the scene – the outside temperature that day was north of 108 degrees Fahrenheit.
The temperatures of Death Valley have become a disturbing symbol of climate crisis. In the last two years in a row, the natural space below sea level has world heat records of all time. (In June 2021, the mercury rose to 1,030 degrees Fahrenheit.) Last Wednesday, August 18, the heat appeared to have killed a local hiker who was found unconscious on the Golden Canyon Trail in Death Valley.
The search and rescue mission for Stanback also proved difficult due to the strong winds.
“The California Highway Patrol Inland Division’s H-80 flight operations helicopter responded to help with the recovery, but the winds were too strong to land safely,” said an press release on the death of the National Parks Service (NPS), later adding that he was contacted by park staff after the temperature cooled. “In the cooler hours of the evening, the national park staff were able to complete the recovery safely. The Inyo County Sheriff’s Office and Inyo County Coroner are investigating the cause of death.”
Stanback’s cause of death is still under investigation; The Inyo County Sheriff’s Office and Inyo County Coroner are currently investigating a potential cause of death, although heatstroke is believed to be the culprit.
In the statement, NPS explicitly said that it is best to only do all hikes before 10 a.m. or at high elevations during the afternoon. Regardless of the temperatures outside, whether inside or outside of Death Valley, be sure to drink (and bring) plenty of water on your long hikes; also try not to stray too far from an air-conditioned building or your car when hiking in warmer areas.
Related: Sunday Links: Autopsy of NorCal family who died hiking in Sierra National Forest brings nothing
The 21 Best Socially Remote Hikes to Do in the Bay Area
Image: A warning sign alerts visitors to the dangers of heat at Zabriskie Point on July 11, 2021 in Death Valley National Park, California. An excessive heat warning was issued for much of the southwestern United States through Monday. Climate models almost unanimously predict that heat waves will become more intense and frequent as the planet continues to warm. (Photo by David Becker / Getty Images)