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HIGH SIERRA MOUNTAIN SAFETY: Summer 2019 SAR Incidents & Accidents, Page II

HIGH SIERRA MOUNTAIN SAFETY: Summer 2019 SAR Incidents & Accidents, Page II


Alex Wierbinski's picture

By Alex Wierbinski - Posted on 14 November 2019

 

 

 

 

HIGH SIERRA MOUNTAIN SAFETY
SAR Incidents & Accidents

Summer of 2019 Mountain Safety Review

REPORTS INDEX

 

Page II

 

July 22, 2019
to
August 10, 2019

 

 Support SAR

 

11 Rescues of Note

 

AMS-HACE, Devils Postpile

Bouldering Accident, Open Fracture, The Dreamers

Unknown, Little Slide Canyon

Injury, Barney Lake

Body Recovery, Minarets

E-Ledges Tumble, Mount Whitney Mountaineer's Route

Dehydration-Seizures Waugh Lake

Technical Rescue 3rd Pillar of Dana

Altitude Sickness Above Rush Creek Trailhead

Lost in Canyon of the Mokelumne River, TYT

"Anemia and sciatica," below North flank of Donohue Pass

 

Back to Introduction-Index Page

 

Page 1

Page 2

Page 3

Mountain Safety Section

 

 

August 10, 2019 #31
MONO SAR
John Muir Trail near Minaret Falls
Across From Devils Postpile

MONO SAR on the JMT
MONO SAR on the John Muir Trail outbound. Image by J. Bush.
On the trail outbound. Image by J. Bush


Full Report
AMS-HACE, Devils Postpile

Main Points
"...a 28-year-old male who had fainted on the John Muir Trail near Minaret Falls. The location was about 2 miles from the ranger station at Devils Postpile National Park."

"Two field teams composed of 11 team members responded to the subject location with medical gear and the wheeled litter. The subject was assessed, and there were indications of possible Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) as well as possible High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE)." 

MONO SAR on the JMT
MONO SAR making a creek crossing on the way off the JMT, image by M. Quring.
A creek crossing on the litter carryout. Image by M. Quiring. Looks like the Middle Fork of the San Joaquin...

Map
Donohue Pass to Reds Meadow on the JMT-PCT Map

 

Physical breakdowns happen.

From High Sierra Backpacker:

Altitude

High Altitude Medicine: Improving Prediction of Altitude Problems

Altitude Sickness, Training, and Safety as Part of Hiking Plan Prep

High Altitude Medicine: Half Acetazolamide Dosage Sufficient

 

TOP

 

 

August 10, 2019 #30
MONO SAR
Bouldering Accident, Mammoth

MONO SAR RECOVERS BROKEN BOULDERER
MONO SAR carrying injured boulderer from The Dreamers. Image by J. Bush.
The Carry begins. Image by J. Bush.

 

Full Report
Bouldering Accident, Open Fracture, The Dreamers

Main Points
"...a 49-year-old male climber with an open fracture at the Dreamers bouldering area near Sherwin Summit."

"The subject was assessed, splinted, packaged in the wheeled litter, and transported a short distance to the medic unit, and was then transported to Mammoth Hospital for treatment."

Mountain Project
The Dreamers, Sherwin Summit

Map
Map, Reds to Iva Bell and VVR

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August 8, 2019 #29
MONO SAR
Little Slide Canyon out of Twin Lakes

MONO SAR Hiking on the use trail in Little Slide Canyon. Image by M. Quiring
MONO SAR hiking on the use trail in Little Slide Canyon. Image by M. Quiring

 

Full Report
Unknown, Little Slide Canyon

Main Points
"...a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) in Little Slide Canyon. The Team responded to the trailhead at Mono Village, and field teams hiked toward the location. Prior to the arrival of the field teams, CHP H40 was able to extract the subject."

Map
Twin Lakes Bensen Lake Loop Map

MONO SAR Looking for You
MONO SAR Badasses Looking for You, Image by J. Wallace.
Little Slide Canyon has no maintained, but use trails. Image by J. Wallace.

Little Slide Search

For Nothing...but doing it.

I once did a, "lightening," resupply of a deeply stashed Yosemite Trail Crew, hiking quickly in to their far distant position from Twin Lakes, with min. equip, making the 25 miles easily with my very light load, as they would supply all food and shelter facilities, and set me up for my partial-day launch to return back to my original trailhead at Twin Lakes the next day, both times looking up at Little Slide Canyon with curiosity as I passed by, making notes for the future, as it is not only topologically interesting, it also makes an adventurous route over to Slide Canyon, which holds a weather station that regulairly reports some of the coldest temps in the Sierra. Yeah. Gotta check that terrain out.

Things get frigging cold along the Eastern high flank of the Sierra, and are typically much colder than crestline or Western Flank positions, those temps we'll encounter under the high elevation Eastern shadow of the High Sierra.

Shit gets a lot colder when you travel along the high elevation (and even the lower ele) Eastern Flank of the High Sierra, especially from late Fall through Winter into late Spring.

This applies to Slide and Little Slide Canyons even during this early Summer search. it's typically just a bit cooler than surrounding locations along the Sierra Crest during Summer. It's interesting to have the Slide Canyon offering a weather station view into the colder reality of the Eastern Flank. It's interesting to me...

As is the fact that a crew of dudes pushed into and out of some this most difficult High Sierra terrain, for absolutely nothing.

Well, "nothing," does not quite describe what happened here.

We do it, we each engage nature each in our own way, each one of us for our own particular and specific combinations of principals, practices, and the pure pleasure that physical engagements with Nature brings, even when the facts of the situation calling us out over the edge falls quite short of the depth of our committment. No matter. It's always nice to engage.

The reality of engaging Nature, on its own timing within its own configuration, is its own reward.

In this environment I find that our High Sierra SAR organizations have made themselves capable of, and are frequently bringing together the skills necessary to rescue some of the most skilled and fit folks along some of the most difficult and dangerous hiking and climbing routes that are accessible to almost everyone, in our nation and around the world.

That means that our highly sharpened Search and Rescue tools, our SAR teams capable of incredibly difficult wilderness rescues and extractions are spending the vast majority of their time rescuing folks who should have never entered the terrain SAR are pulling them out of, without having a whole lot more information, physical training, and preparation that many folks requiring rescue are lacking.

Thus my deep thanks to these SAR Angels flying around our high places, who are frequently plunging deeply into, and climbing steeply up to, extremes of terrain their rescue targets have so unwisely put themselves into, and are often plucked out of, and off of, by helicopters.

Well, if something goes wrong with the heli-rescue, your're going to find the most amazing folks are striving to locate, fix-up, and get you out of trouble on and by foot.

The bottom line here is that you should understand and be properly prepped for every aspect of stress your High Sierra engagement is going to trigger, and be able to overcome them all.

Map
Twin Lakes Bensen Lake Loop Map

 TOP

 

 

August 7, 2019 #28
MONO SAR
Barney Lake out of Twin Lakes

MONO SAR & CHP Helicopter in Mono Village Meadow
MONO SAR & CHP Helicopter in Mono Village Meadow, Image by M. Quiring.
Mono Village meadow LZ. Image by M. Quiring.

 

Full Report
Injury, Barney Lake

Main Points
"...received a report of a 60-year-old male hiker with an injured leg near Barney Lake. The Team waited for first light, and then field teams hiked in from Mono Village with a wheeled litter."

 "Prior to the arrival of the field teams, CHP H40 was able to extract the subject."

Map
Twin Lakes Bensen Lake Loop Map

TOP

 

 

August 3, 2019 #27
MONO SAR
Minarets
Ansel Adams Wilderness West of Mammoth

 

Full Report
Body Recovery, Minarets

Main Points
"...a male hiker who had fallen down a snowfield near Iceberg Lake, at the toe of the Minarets."

"His fall was arrested by rocks, and was unfortunately fatal."

I've faced this problem before, near the site of this fatality...

 

Emergency Self-Arrest with a Safety Rock :

"I was concerned about going down the snow beard when I exited. The snow was steep, and at the base of the snow beard there was the shattered, sharp talus rock that characterizes the terrain. Losing traction meant sliding down the snow into the sharp rock at a high speed. I was pretty worried about the cost of failure."

Shattered rock and steep snow below NW side of Banner Peak.

Map
Donohue Pass to Reds Meadow on the JMT-PCT Map

 

 TOP

 

 

August 1, 2019
INYO SAR
Mount Whitney

Shattered Rock Approach
INYO SAR up the Shattered rock below Ebersbacher Ledges, image by INYO SAR.
INYO SAR up Difficult Route up Whitney. Image by INYO SAR.

 

Full Report
E-Ledges Tumble, Mount Whitney Mountaineer's Route

Main Points
"...a subject who had taken a tumbling fall down the Eberbacher Ledges on the North Fork of Lone Pine Creek, the trail that accesses the Mountaineer’s Route on Mt. Whitney."

"...an experienced hiker who had summited Whitney multiple times, took a small misstep on the sloping ledges while descending and fell approximately 40 feet before coming to rest on a lower ledge."

"...two companions descended to his location where they found him unconscious and with numerous lacerations. After several minutes the subject regained consciousness and became more oriented."

Climbing to the Top of the Mountaineer's Gorge
INYO SAR rescue up Whitney Mountaineer's Route gorge as sun sets.
INYO SAR at the top of the Gorge with the setting sun. Image by INYO SAR.

"...Inyo County Search & Rescue arrived on scene just before midnight."

 

"...the patient attempted to hike out with assistance but it became evident that trauma to his ankles left him unable to bear weight. Inyo SAR monitored his condition throughout the night. At 6:25am CHP – Inland Division Air Operations H-80 arrived and hoisted the patient to safety where he was transferred to medical care."

 

Ebersbacher Ledges
History
Whitney Zone

Ebersbacher Ledges
Route
Summit Post

 

Top of Whitney to Lone Pine 7.5min Map
John Muir Wilderness

 

Mount Whitney Zone 30min Map
John Muir Wilderness

 

Accidents Happen...

TOP

 

 

July 27, 2019 #26
MONO SAR
North of Mammoth, East of June Lake

 

Full Report
Dehydration-Seizures, Waugh Lake

Main Points
"...a report of a 20-year-old female who was dehydrated and having seizures near Waugh Lake. Two field teams responded to the Rush Creek Trailhead to hike in to render assistance."

"The Seahawk helicopter from Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake.used just previously in the evening was re-tasked to Waugh Lake, and arrived prior to the ground team. The Seahwak was able to extract the subject and fly her to Mammoth-Yosemite Airport; from there Mono County Medics transported her to Mammoth Hospital, and then she was transferred to Renown in Reno, NV."

Map
Donohue Pass to Reds Meadow on the JMT-PCT Map

TOP

 

 

July 27, 2019 #25
MONO SAR
Major Climber Injuries Yosemite South of Tioga Pass

MONO SAR Technical Rescue on Third Pillar of Dana
MONO SAR Technical Rescue on Third Pillar of Dana, The mechanical advantage system ready for raise. Image by J. Bush.
First they carried everything up: The mechanical advantage system ready for raise. Image by J. Bush.

 

Back, ankle, and pelvic injuries
Full Report
Technical Rescue 3rd Pillar of Dana

Main Points
"There were no air resources immediately available, so 7 field teams drove to the trailhead at Tioga Lake and began the steep hike to the summit."

"The route that the climber fell off of is approximately 700’ tall, and the reported location of the injured party was on the third pitch, so it was anticipated that two 600’ ropes would be indicated."

"...rope systems were constructed to lower the litter attendant and litter down to the subject, and then to raise both back to the summit."

MONO SAR at the Point of Rescue
MONO SAR litter attendants view back to the summit from the subject location. Image by N. Endo.
The litter attendants view back to the summit from the subject location. Image by N. Endo.

"For the raise, the Team had initially constructed a mechanical advantage of 5:1, but the haul team was struggling to raise the rescuer and subject, and the mechanical advantage was modified to a 7:1. The raise was approximately 300’, and the subject shortly arrived at the summit with the litter attendant."

Rescue Package Secured
Mono SAR Transporting the subject away from the edge to the helo pickup area. Image by J. Bush.
Mono SAR Transporting the subject away from the edge to the helo pickup area. Image by J. Bush.

"A Seahawk (Sikorsky UH60 variant) arrived from Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake. The subject was transported to Fresno Community Regional Medical Center." 

Big Copter Atop 3rd Pillar of Dana
MONO SAR observing the China Lake Seahawk looking for a spot to set down. Image by B. Beck.
The China Lake Seahawk looking for a spot to set down. Image by B. Beck.

After this MONO SAR crew executed an excellent technical rescue and delivered their package to further treatment and transport, the SAR team still has to recover their gear, pack it all up, and bring themselves safely back to civilization.

MONO SAR Packing for the Hike Home
Helo extraction complete, MONO SAR packing up the gear for the hike out. Image by N. Endo.
Helo extraction complete, packing up the gear for the hike out. Image by N. Endo.

Thanks!

Map
Yosemite 30

 

Climbing accidents happen. Climbing is dangerous.

 TOP

 

July 23, 2019 19-323 #23
MONO SAR
North of Mammoth, East of June Lake

 

Full Report
Altitude Sickness Above Rush Creek Trailhead

Main Points
"...the Team was called for a 68 year-old female hiker with reported altitude sickness on the Rush Creek Trail. She was approximately 1.5 miles from the Rush Creek Trailhead."

"The field teams encountered the subject about a half-mile from the trailhead and she was assessed, treated, and transported to the trailhead. The subject was transferred to the care of Mono County Medic Unit 2, and transported to Mammoth Hospital for further treatment."

Map
Donohue Pass to Reds Meadow on the JMT-PCT Map

 

Wrong person into the wrong place. Trip planning issue.

TOP

 

 

July 21-22, 2019
Alpine County Sheriff & US Army Reserve Copter
Lost in Canyon of the Mokelumne River,
Tahoe to Yosemite Trail

Army Reserve Heli Brings Happy Ending to Backpacker & Alpine County SAR Efforts
Army Reserve Rescue Blackhawk carrying hiker & Alpine County SAR dude.
Coming off the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail lost on the North Mokelumne River.
 

Main Points
34 Year old male hiker failed to make pickup at Lake Alpine hiking unmaintained Tahoe to Yosemite Trail from Carson Pass to Lake Alpine. This section of the route is substantially unmaintained hiking South through Summit City Creek below Fourth of July Lake. We don't hit much in the way of trails until we are much of the way up to Mount Reba.

Behind the Scenes SAR
There is a lot going on behind the scenes of the SAR Crews we see deploying in the images on these pages. After ascertaining my report was valid, and the backpacker I was reporting on was beyond being late, Alpine County Officer Bottomley sprang instantly into action. This consisted calling in a wide variety of resources, the first of which were his dispatcher and two local backcountry badasses.

Officer Bottomly Bringing in SAR Resources
To the Phones!

Alpine County SAR Sheriff Bottomley drawing together SAR resources.
2019 TYT Rescue, the Main Man, Sheriff Timothy J Bottomley at the Bear Valley substation creating, drawing together, and directing this complex multi-agency rescue operation.

My point? Every SAR operation has a, "Main Man," who draws together, directs, and supports all the human and material resources necessary for a successful SAR.

The SAR Dispatcher was on the way in, The Sheriff was planning, calling, & organizing, calling SAR Orgs & their Vols in from both directions along this 21 mile length of this section of the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail between Highways 88 & 4, while calling CHP & Army Reserve to identify available air resources, address communications in the backcountry issues, and begin the ongoing coordination to create necessary food, water, and other infrastructure necessary for safely supporting what could be extensive and extended field activities.

Two SAR Groups Enter from Two Directions
Bear Valley & Carson Pass
SAR vols from Carson Pass move quickly on foot Southbound into Summit City Creek from the North, while two SAR vols immediately hike North into Mokelumne River Canyon from the South out of Lake Alpine, while Officer Bottomley in the meantime has found and directed a copter equipped with IR to scout these two canyons for any sign of our lost backpacker.

Behind the Scenes
Dispatcher Drawing Together SAR Resources

Expert dispatcher begins drawing resources together for Alpine County SAR responce.
Bottomley called in his expert dispatcher who instantly responded and continued locating resources as Officer Bottomley switched from marshalling resources over the phone to discussing search plans with the two local Alpine County SAR dudes who responded instantly to his SAR call. These guys dropped eveything they were doing to respond to the SAR call...

Very Impressive procedures and people.

Rising to the Call
Two Local Bear Valley Backcountry Badasses Respond Instantly to the SAR CAll

Alpine County SAR dude ready to hit the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail out of Bear Valley
Alpine County SAR dude ready to hit the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail out of Bear Valley.

Back Again, on a Blackhawk Copter
Hitting the Food and Checking the Phone after returning from this successful SAR mission
Alpine County SAR vol feeding up after successful overnight mission into North Fork of the Mokelumne River.

Both these guys pictured above were dropping into the deep, remote canyon of the North Mokelumne within a hour of getting the SAR call, to search on the way down to an overnight campsite at Camp Irene (I believe), from which they began searching the next morning.

Organization is the Key
In the meantime Bottomley and his dispatcher had called in crews to do a cusory search from the North before dark, and began drawing together and organizing assets, making the plan to push an extensive search in from both directions the next day, as they polled military and civilian agencies to find an infrared-equipped copter to continue searching effectively as night fell, and for the SAR vols to fill out their crews for the next day's on the ground searches.

Technology
The Canyon of the North Fork of the Mokelumne is narrow and deep, presenting communications challenges understood by these two members of the Yosemite SAR comminucations team, who responded to this SAR call with radio repeaters they tuned and placed (on Reba, I believe) in order to provide reliable communications for this, and future rescues in the complex terrain along the North Mokelumne.

Bottomley and Yos SAR Comms Dudes
Officer Bottomley and Yosemite SAR Comms Vols test, tune, and adjust radio repeater to support SAR efforts.
Adjusting and testing repeater before placing it on the mountaintop. It takes a finely balanced team possessing a lot of experience, fitness, gear, with the capability to work hard, to run safe and successful SAR operations.

Radio Repeater
Radio repeater ready to be installed to provide reliable SAR and backcountry communications.
Ready to be installed on a remote mountaintop.

Alls Well that Ends Well
Army Reserve Blackhawk spots our lost hiker, calls in the two SAR Vols who entered the North Mokelumne the previous evening to the rescue site, and the rescue copter began pulling everyone out to the primitive airport at Bear Valley, near Lake Alpine.

Army Blackhawk Landed on Bear Valley Dirt Runway
Army Reserve Rescue Copter assists Lake Alpine SAR at Bear Valley's Dirt Airport.
Well, it does have a, "copter pad." One backpacker and two SAR personnell delivered to Bear Valley Sheriff Substation

Flyboys
Here's a few of the dudes we never see, being the crews manning the copters we see flying in and out performing risky rescues, folks we rarely get to see or meet. Here's five of these otherwise anonymous folks putting themselves at risk flying to rescue us.

Good Work, and Thanks, Dudes!

Army Reserve Blackhawk Rescue Crew at Bear Valley
 Lost Backpacker, Blackhawk Crew, Alpine County SAR dude, all at the Bear Valley Substation along Highway 4.
Lost & Found Backpacker on the Left, Bear Valley SAR dude on Right, and the Blackhawk Crew who found and ferried them back to civilization and safety.

 

 

MAP
Heart of the TYT through Mokelumne Canyon
Fourth of July Lake to Bee Gulch

TOP

 

 

July 21-22, 2019 19-319, OES #3943 #22
MONO SAR
JMT South of Yosemite Boundary

Minarets, Banner & Ritter South of Donohue Pass
MONO SAR hiking South of Donohue Pass with Minarets, Banner & Ritter to their South, image by J. Bush.
MONO SAR On the return hike from Donohue Pass along the John Muir Trail. Image by J. Bush.

 

Full Report
Anemia and Sciatica Below North flank of Donohue Pass

Main Points
"...21 year-old female hiker complaining of anemia and sciatica, approximately 11 miles from the Rush Creek trailhead near Donohue Pass. A field team of 4 rescue members began hiking in at 8:30 pm."

"...a Blackhawk helicopter and a night vision gear (NVG) qualified crew located the subject."

"...A crewman was lowered to the subject, who was evaluated, and then the crewman and subject were hoisted into the Blackhawk. The subject was transported to Mammoth-Yosemite Airport, and Mono County Medic 3 crew briefly treated the subject who refused transport to Mammoth Hospital."

Map
Donohue Pass to Reds Meadow on the JMT-PCT Map

   

"Anemia?" Really? It sure sounds like someone did not want to walk back to the trailhead.

 

SUPPORT MONO SAR

SUPPORT INYO SAR

 

 

 

Mountain Safety

Trail News, November 2019

 

 

Back To
Main Introduction and Index

 

Page 1
August 11, 2019
to
September 29, 2019

 

Page 2
Top of Page 2
July 22, 2019
to
August 10, 2019

 

Page 3
May 20, 2019
to
July 14, 2019

 

 

 

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More
Nature News

 

Climate Destruction News

 

Trees

Bee News

Bear News

Spider Forum

Bird News

Small Mammals

Frogs and Reptiles

Butterfly News

 

Health and Fitness

Mountain Safety

Mosquito News

Female Trail

High Sierra History

 

Astro-Phys, Space, & Science News

High Sierra Geology News

Fish, Oceans, & Water News

Anthropocene

 

 

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High Sierra, Nevada, mountain safety, summer, 2019, Inyo, Mono, Search and Rescue, SAR, rescues, Mount Whitney,  lost, injured

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