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First Customer for Leah the Satellite Phone Service Dog
#54370 10/02/18 12:31 AM
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jaym Offline OP
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(Foreboding) Leah (the Great Pyrenees) barked at a group of lights coming down the 99 switchbacks at midnight. I told her to shush.

On leaving Trail Camp for a "Ninja Run" to the Summit, we bumped into a forerunner (and Professional Nurse) to a group of hero hikers who were helping a hiker striken with AMS. The hiker had HACE, HACE induced blindness, and HAPE. Luckily I was with Leah the "Satellite Phone Service Dog", so I borrowed Leah's phone (*) to call the Inyo County Sheriff Dept. (preprogrammed) to initiate a helicopter rescue. Also luckily, my tent was available with my old -15F down sleeping bag I nicknamed "The Boulder" (because in its compression sack it is like putting a boulder in your backpack) The bag was perched on a Thermorest NeoAir XTherm Max. The helicopter was scheduled to come at first light and the hero Nurse stayed to stablize her condition in my tent.

After all was settled, I restarted my hike up the switchbacks, but unfortunately, got AMS nausea at Trail Crest and rushed down the 99 switchbacks (and puked 99 times, ha ha). I had summited 2 months earlier and this spur of the moment trip (reserved the permit online the day before the hike) was just mostly testing my AMS succeptability and experiencing the "overnight" permit hike experience over 3 nights. I thus got to be in Trail Camp when the helicopter came. I got to hear their megaphone (paraphrasing): "YOU IN THE BLUE JACKET AND TAN PANTS. YES YOU! LEAVE YOUR POSITION NOW! YOU ARE IN THE LANDING ZONE AND WE ARE GOING TO LAND." Apparently the hiker was, of course, obliviously filming the helicopter with his smartphone. The ailing hiker was wisked away to the hospital and had a full recovery.

(*) I wouldn't have bought and carry a Sat phone if I was not hiking with and responsible for Leah's safety (as her Dog owner/guardian). Once I have the phone, I might as pull the joke after slipping the Sat Phone in her holster: "But she is a Service Dog, "A Satellite Phone Service Dog" - bringing phone service to hikers in need" when caught being hundreds of feet inside a National Park Border by a NPS Ranger (Ranger: Ha Ha. Here's your $1000 fine...). She also provides support kisses for the AMS stricken...

Unrelated lessions learned:
  • 1.5oz Enlightened Equipment windpants are cold when you stop hiking.
  • Don't leave your Smartwool baselayer down in your car in Whitney Portal.
  • Cheap emergency bivvys are not as warm as -15F down sleeping bags.
  • 90F Lone Pine forecast, plus night time + 10,000 feet + 40 MPH winds equals cold.

Picture of Leah on White Mountain Peak:


Picture of Leah ready to provide Sat phone service (normally stored in my backpack stretchy pocket to unburden Leah):


Picture from
Facebook CHP Inland Division Air Operations
of the helicopter rescue on Sept 16, 2018:


Re: First Customer for Leah the Satellite Phone Service Dog
jaym #54372 10/02/18 08:33 AM
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thanks JayM. What a good morning wake-up story.

Thanks to Leah for being on-call and on-duty.

Glad you enjoyed the 99 pukers (I mean switchers) so much. grin

Re: First Customer for Leah the Satellite Phone Service Dog
jaym #54373 10/02/18 12:35 PM
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Originally Posted By: jaym
a hiker striken with AMS. The hiker had HACE, HACE induced blindness, and HAPE..........

The ailing hiker was wisked away to the hospital and had a full recovery.

Unrelated lessions learned:
[list]
[*] 1.5oz Enlightened Equipment windpants are cold when you stop hiking.
[

It would be interesting to know more about this case. Above the just 8,000 ft, the official threshold of altitude illnesses, anything can happen. However, severe cases like this are rare at that altitude, but do happen near 12,000 (Trail Camp)and above, or even after a summit (or near-summit) and even during the descent. The full recovery with descent (as opposed to a stroke) suggest this really was altitude-related.

As for a name like "Enlightened Equipment," such non-robust stuff only works with pixie dust in Shangri-La !

Re: First Customer for Leah the Satellite Phone Service Dog
Steve C #54375 10/02/18 08:06 PM
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An Irishman decided to take a climbing vacation, so he flew to Europe and hired a guide. Returning from their first ascent, they were pinned and nearly buried by a shallow avalanche. The Irishman called for help and the guide replied that they would be alright because help was on it's way. The guide shouted "Here comes man's best friend!" and pointed to the keg-collared St Bernard running up the slope. The Irishman looked and shouted, "And look at the size of the dog that's bringing it!"

Dale B. Dalrymple

Re: First Customer for Leah the Satellite Phone Service Dog
Harvey Lankford #54379 10/04/18 11:24 AM
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I don't have all the information and I am not a medical professional, but what I was told is that the hiker started losing her eyesight near the summit and after summiting her eyesight got worse and worse until she could no longer follow the trail and got lost in the boulder field (with possible "Window" dropoffs!) on the Mount Whitney Ridge. I also heard: "The Hospital staff told her she only had hours to live had we not found her and stabilized her at Trail Camp." So those hero hikers that got her down from the Mount Whitney High Altitude "Death Zone" Ridge really saved her life. She was coughing pretty bad so I assume HAPE in addition to HACE.


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