The traditional burning of the man at Burning Man was delayed by two days due to an unusual rainstorm and extremely mucky conditions on the playa Saturday. And organizers said they would open the exit gates Monday and begin letting people leave.
It was unclear on Sunday whether burners would be trapped on the playa for multiple days as the desert mud slowly dried out enough to allow vehicle to drive easily across it. The last of the rain passed through the Black Rock Desert on Sunday, and organizers said they intended to reopen the gates sometime Monday morning.
"We expect to start Exodus on Monday morning 9/4 as long as the conditions improve. We will inform the community as soon as we make the decision as to the route and the timing. Gate Road is currently impassable," the organizers said in an official announcement.
The Man burn has been scheduled for Monday night at 9 p.m. It typically would have happened on Saturday.
In an email to all burners on Sunday, organizers tried to reiterate that everyone should still be cleaning up their camps, despite the thick mud they've been living in that has likely coated all of their belongings and made bikes inoperable.
"We are asking participants to not forget the Leave No Trace and Communal Effort principles when they are leaving BRC this year. All participants are expected to pack out everything they brought in and clean their camp space before leaving the city," the email said.
An estimated 73,000 burners are on the playa this year, and even though the gates have been closed to vehicles since Friday, some people have managed to make it out on foot — including Chris Rock and Diplo, who were seen in a now viral video riding in the back of a pickup truck headed toward Reno after walking six miles.
Others reportedly made it out in all-terrain vehicles, but some vehicles became stuck in the mud when trying to leave, leading to a shelter-in-place order.
As CNN reported, President Biden was advised of the situation and was "monitoring" it with staff.
A reported death on the playa remains under investigation, and the person's identity has not been made public, and the circumstances of the death have not been made clear.
"There was a death on playa on September 1, 2023 unrelated to the weather," organizers said. "Our emergency services department reached a call for service extremely quickly for a male, approximately 40 years old, and could not resuscitate the patient. We’re aware that the Pershing County Sheriff has told the media he is investigating this death."
Still, burners are enduring, and attendee Dawne Looney tells CNN, "Everybody's kind of having a good time, oddly enough."
Referring to white-out dust storms that plagued the festival last year, Looney added, "Last year was tough. This one will break you."
Photo: Bryan Ignacio/SFist