SAR Operations

Posted by: Steve C

SAR Operations - 10/03/11 08:39 PM

We will reserve this thread for posting SAR reports and information.

Several weeks ago I asked Inyo SAR people for any type of reports they might be able to send our way. I received a good report today.

Here is a two-page Emergency Report form developed by the Inyo County SAR group. It would be a good thing to print and carry along on any hike in the Sierra: Inyo SAR Emergency Report form
Posted by: Steve C

Re: SAR Operations - 10/03/11 09:05 PM

September, 2011   Inyo County SAR

Written by the SAR team member, with minimal editing

2AM phone call from Sheriff, there has been a 911 SPOT activation.

Unfortunately, most SPOT calls are non-emergencies, but this one was a true emergency.

2AM call from dispatch, Spot activation, Sheriff and I decide to send a hasty team to access the situation. The computer callout system is offline so we get the callout sheet and start waking people. We need 2-5 members who are in good shape, medical & technical trained, know the Whitney Zone well enough to travel and possibly search at night with no moon, and they must travel fast, the coordinate for SPOT is Trail Camp area.

Choices are few as we know many members are out of town can not get off work the next day etc, things get worse as we find voice mail after voice mail, one member who had been celebrating a bit toO much to go and one who answered his phone on the East Coast. OK there are two of us available, one in Lone Pine and one in Bishop. Wake up, gear up and haul... Between the time, not normally spent on phone calls getting from home to the Posse hut gear up, drive to portal and laying out what equipment I can and cannot carry to trail camp fast, also find out there are an additional subjects 3 overdue marathon runners doing a day hike due out yesterday, missing!!

Left the parking lot 4AM, much slower than I would have liked, which makes you hike just a little harder to try and make up time. (We hope to interview people coming down so we can take the appropriate gear, but tonight nobody was coming down that knew anything, sent info down trail, names situation etc. About outpost camp find a hiker who confirms there is a real emergency guy is very sick and was pulled down from trail crest at midnight.

There are only two of us so a carryout from trail camp will be long and brutal. So we requested a callout to the rest of the team in case weather and aircraft do not cooperate. We call for air support at first light. Arrive trail camp 7:30 fairly tired begin search thru every tent finally someone knows of the situation and we head to far south west to find a subject being taken care of by several good Samaritan soldiers on leave. (They pretty much saved his life)

Patient has HACE but is coming out of it with rest and oxygen, eventually a little food and electrolytes. Cold shivering disoriented, hands and feet swollen, nauseous, pupils constricted. The good news he is one of the 3 missing day hikers, the other two left as soon as we arrived, at least they did talk to me first. (That is always strange to me people leave others on Whitney like it is survival of the fittest. Wave even had a group leave a man with his deceased wife sitting in a tent. Very strange behavior for civilized people. Seems to happen up there)

Several bystanders offer to help and they happen to have medical training, none with much altitude experience but still extremely valuable. They help assess patient, and interview witnesses. I find out someone gave the patient a shot of something!!! I find high blood pressure meds in his pack!!!! He thinks he is allergic to some kind of medication but can't remember!!!!! (He is still kind of out of it mentally) put heat packs all over him help him go to the bathroom, keep him warm. Oxygen. Vitals start getting more normal for altitude, Can't find the person who gave the shot but was told it was for nausea they think zofran?? We find a close landing zone, carry him a ways load him at @10:30 AM and he flies away. Not sure when or if we will hear anymore about his condition (pretty normal).

He felt bad on way up starting at Mirror Lake kept going, (3 competitive runners who would guess they would keep going) made it to summit at 2 PM. Patient is so bad could not carry his day pack. They and others helped him to trail crest 8PM, got more help from trail camp (the soldiers, carried him down the 99 switchbacks to trail camp, those guys were heroes! At midnight a person with the SPOT pushed the button for the others. Our Patient was in shorts with a wind breaker his day pack had jack for useful gear. Be prepared and listen to your body otherwise the mountain wins!

No rides down for us. Pack up head to Trailside Meadow to rest a few minutes and head down hill.

On way down get a another call, 200 lb person bucked off a horse above South Lake Bishop, suspect broken or dislocated hip, luckily we did not need the team we had backing us up so they were recalled out for the broken hip and made a quick successful carry out of about 2 miles, with a lot of steps.

Refuel, replace med supplies, oxygen etc. Home by 5PM. 15 hours door-to-door is a pretty normal mission, but with 3 hours sleep the night before, up with no breakfast or lunch, and a life saved, I can say I slept very well.

Next day 4pm phone rings callout... torn ACL at trail camp off we go again.
Posted by: Steve C

Re: SAR Operations - 10/03/11 09:22 PM

Here's a picture of Inyo SAR members on another rescue trip: A hiker had injured his back at Lone Pine Lake.

Posted by: Bob West

Re: SAR Operations - 10/10/11 07:29 AM

Thank you for posting the SAR photos. Three cheers for our SAR heros! Not many folks would be willing to hump a wheeled litter up any trail.
Posted by: wbtravis

Re: SAR Operations - 10/10/11 05:14 PM

I always enjoy these posts.

Whenever I tell people you should carry enough gear and clothing to survive the night at 14,505' when doing this as a day hike, I'm told the obvious...It's a day hike. Well boys and girls, not always and it ain't no fun when it's 10 F, the wind is a 30 MPH and all ya got in the fanny pack is windbreaker.
Posted by: Steve C

Re: SAR Operations - 10/10/11 09:50 PM

There has been a report of a hiker's death last week on the Mt Whitney trail. It would be helpful to all hikers to learn how to be more aware of the potential problems of hiking at altitude. Unfortunately, sometimes there is a reluctance to report anything.

Although I am not sure, I believe this situation involved a hiker with HAPE or HACE. We have heard from other hikers this season that conditions can continue to worsen even after descending to normal elevations. (8/15/11 Trip Report & HAPE and A case of HAPE) If people recognize hikers progressing into those conditions, getting off the mountain immediately may save the hiker's life.

If anyone has more details on this recent situation, it would sure be helpful.
Posted by: Steve C

Re: SAR Operations - 10/10/11 10:10 PM

I have updated the first post above with a link:   Inyo SAR Emergency Report form
Posted by: Steve C

Re: SAR Operations - 10/10/11 10:21 PM

Another SAR log:

While I was just finishing the above, before I could send it I got a call at 8 PM, SPOT activation again, from Mt Humphrey's summit. A technical climb, in the dark, winds gusting to @30-40, cold. Rough 4wd road for 45 minutes then start the climb. Up and over the top to a fallen climber two raps down the backside, found broken or separated ribs, wrist sprained maybe slight fracture. Two people were very cold having spent a miserable night out looked very pale. Oxygen helped, good sports. Moved them to a pick off point; helo running very late, weather coming in so started down in case helo might not fly in the worsening conditions. Halfway down injured climber picked off with winch flown to waiting ambulance, team continued down, helo returned to remove team (very much appreciated).

Before that mission was over... person over 50 at Consultation Lake Whitney main trail area, in out of consciousness in bad shape was report, flew B-3 helo up in high winds found person in very bad shape flew straight to hospital Lone Pine.

This was a lucky turn of events. It happened so fast, team members were on standby for the other mission if it went bad, and a helo just happened to be in Lone Pine refueling. Otherwise it was a small hasty team hiking in, who would have had to call for back up for a carry out which when all said and done would have been over 8-12 extra hours before the person would make it to hospital.

So we now have had two SPOT activations that were true emergencies. On these two, I cannot say whether the peace of mind the device fosters leads people further into trouble than they would have without it.

Everyone, please remember: With funds donated to the WHA (Mt Whitney Hikers Association) in the current fund drive, most of what is donated over and above our annual operating expenses, will be passed on to the Inyo County SAR organization. Here's the link:   Mt Whitney Hikers Association fund drive.   Inyo SAR has quite a wish list of equipment and training courses.
Posted by: Steve C

Re: SAR Operations - 10/13/11 11:36 PM

An article came out in the Inyo Register yesterday listing a big number of SAR calls. Inyo SAR is sure busy!

The Inyo Register article:   Search and Rescue going non-stop
The article includes information regarding the man who died.

The final paragraph:
The Inyo SAR is always looking for more volunteers. The team holds meetings at the Posse Hut (tan metal building just before the Bishop airport), general meetings the first Thursday of every month at 7 p.m., a classroom training every third Thursday of the month at 7 p.m., and a full day hands-on training the following Saturday.
Posted by: tacklejunkie

Re: SAR Operations - 10/15/11 05:40 AM

I was hearing reports of somebody dying also at Consultation lake while I was on the mountain. I guess it happened just before my trip like a day or two. I would assume around the eighth. frown

Many thanks to the SAR guys.

I wish I lived closer. That would be an awesome volunteering job!
I wonder if I can get into something like that in the local mountains that I know very well.
I owe you guys a donation shortly when I can spare for all the info you helped me with here at Whitneyzone.
Posted by: Brent N

Re: SAR Operations - 10/15/11 09:08 PM

Thank you for posting these. These are such important reports for the rest of us to learn from.
Posted by: 2600fromatari

Re: SAR Operations - 10/16/11 09:58 AM

Yep, many thanks to the dudes and dudettes volunteering out there. Annual contribution sent last week. Lugging all that weight up to help people is to be commended...and having to go back down on your own. Hardcore.
Posted by: Bob R

Re: SAR Operations - 10/19/11 06:51 AM

Bob Huey, a CLMRG colleague, also uploads photos of his mountaineering activities. You can check his Flickr site (and mine) from time to time, to see shots taken on recent SARs. The latest is the rescue of a fellow with a broken ankle on the north ridge of Lone Pine Peak a few days ago:

Oct 15 - 16 Lone Pine Peak

Posted by: Bulldog34

Re: SAR Operations - 10/19/11 08:01 AM

Thanks for posting the link, Bob. If I'm reading the photos and captions correctly, this fellow was lucky to get away with just a broken ankle. It appears that after the chickenhead gave way, he fell along the semi-vertical slab about 30 feet - landing on a rocky ledge, with an even longer fall seemingly just a few feet away.

All that must have seemed mundane compared to the winch ride he got on the Chinook . . .
Posted by: Fishmonger

Re: SAR Operations - 10/19/11 08:16 AM

The Inyo SAR is always looking for more volunteers. The team holds meetings at the Posse Hut (tan metal building just before the Bishop airport), general meetings the first Thursday of every month at 7 p.m., a classroom training every third Thursday of the month at 7 p.m., and a full day hands-on training the following Saturday.

if I only lived 2000 miles closer, I'd sign up today. I'd totally love to do this.
Posted by: Steve C

Re: SAR Operations - 10/19/11 10:10 PM

Bob R, thanks for posting the link to Bob H's "Lone Pine Ridge Rescue".

Seeing that sequence led me to find Bob's pictures from the rescue and recovery the first week of October:
                    Whitney Rescue Oct 2011

Posted by: CaT

Re: SAR Operations - 10/20/11 02:45 AM

Thanks Bob.
That helicopter lift out must have been quite a rush!

Posted by: Rod

Re: SAR Operations - 10/21/11 09:24 AM

Thanks for the pics Bob.Nice to see SAR in action. Thanks to you and all those who bail out our sorry arses.
Posted by: catpappy

Re: SAR Operations - 11/20/11 06:14 AM

Dude, do your partying in town.

Posted by: RoguePhotonic

Re: SAR Operations - 11/20/11 10:16 AM

This one is a bit old but maybe someone can shed some light on my wondering.

Back at the end of July a SAR was conducted looking for Richard Reynolds in Kings Canyon. I had passed through and was headed for many locations he was visiting so I talked to the rangers about him and gave reports. Ultimately he was found at the Kid Lakes after he lit fire to some trees to attract attention. As I understand this guy is a mountain guide. My question is how the hell did this guy find himself lost and unable to leave the Kid Lakes area? While I was out I passed through there unplanned and picked a route based on some simple study of the contour lines of my maps. I made it both in and out with nothing more then easy class 2. Now it is true that during the time he was there we had 4 days of nasty weather with plenty of lightning, hail and rain but most of it started late in the day and would not have stopped me from getting out. I can't find anymore information other then the basic he was missing and was found. Rick S told me he heard ...a rumor. Anyone know any other info or should I just forever scratch my head? confused
Posted by: Steve C

Re: SAR Operations - 11/20/11 07:18 PM

Well... since there were no details other than he was taken to a hospital for observation, we will all have to wonder.

This one is unusual, since SAR reports don't usually identify the injured party. Due to health confidentiality/privacy laws, unless he talked to reporters after his rescue, nobody is allowed to say what was wrong.
Posted by: George

Re: SAR Operations - 01/18/12 05:46 PM

Partially inspired by this thread, I just started a photo gallery on our ranger organization's web site. I posted a truly ancient series (with an impossibly young looking ranger) of a river rescue on the Kings using a tyrlolean:

Our current newsletter has sent out a call for other rangers to submit photos of rangers out doing their job. I'll try to post any new stuff that shows up here. Otherwise, check in occasionally!


Posted by: Bee

Re: SAR Operations - 01/18/12 06:13 PM

Great display of technical/rescue skills! Thank you for taking the time to share these photos with us, George.

(1978 -- whew! That's really dipping into the archives!)
Posted by: Steve C

Re: SAR Operations - 02/19/12 09:17 PM

Here is a SAR report from the January 2012 Talus Pile on the China Lake Mountain Rescue Group Website

Operation 2011-18 (Rescue)
20-21 November 2011
Mt. Whitney (Inyo County)
By Dave Miles
Summary:   Three (3) missing hikers on the Mt. Whitney trail.
On Sunday November 20, 2011 at 1520 I received a call from Sgt. Mark Baldwin. Inyo County was requesting our help to look for three (3) missing hikers on the Mt. Whitney Trail. We were to be in Lone Pine at 0700 the next morning. Sheila Rockwell coordinated the callout and Mary Schmierer helped call. Mike Myers, Dan Bishop, Tom Sakai, and Daryl Hinman committed to the search. I called Tim Winkler for details. The three hikers (all in their late 20's or early 30's) had attempted to day hike Mt. Whitney on Saturday. One of the hikers made a call to his mother at 0300 and again at 0812 on Sunday and requested a rescue. They could not find the trail during the night Saturday, and they were in whiteout conditions on Sunday. They reported their position as Trail Camp. Winkler also said that the helicopter would be arriving at 1000 so we should be in Lone Pine at 0830.

We met at the hut at 0700 Monday. With day hikers spending 2 nights in fresh snow, we took hypothermia and avalanche gear. We arrived in Lone Pine at 0830 and were briefed and assigned to teams. Three teams would be dropped off by the Chinook at Trail Camp. Each team was to clear their route and make their way down to Whitney Portal for pickup. We proceeded to the Lone Pine airport and prepared for the helicopter. There were three duffel bags with hypothermia gear for the hikers that would be dropped off by the Chinook if required. Clear skies made this the fastest way to get the gear to the team that found the hikers.

We lifted off at 1150. On the way to Trail Camp the three hikers were spotted on the move from their shelter at Consultation Lake. The Chinook made a few passes to clear a landing spot and then we landed and picked up the three hikers. They were cold and tired but uninjured. They had dug the snow out from under a boulder and built a snow wall. We returned to the Lone Pine Airport. The hikers were evaluated by the two ambulance crews and released. We had lunch with the Inyo SAR team and then returned to the hut at 1500.

Posted by: Steve C

Re: SAR Operations - 05/22/12 03:21 PM

Inyo SAR and the CLMRG, including Bob R, participated in a rescue operation on Sunday/Monday, of a climber on Lone Pine Peak, where the climber fell and suffered open fracture of his ankle.

CHP helicopter made three trips ferrying rescuers to the summit where they descended to the victim and spent the night. The helicopter returned to haul the victim out on Monday, and the SAR people then hiked out.

Here's Bob's photo report (Thanks so much, Bob!)
    2012-05-20 Rescue on Lone Pine Peak

News reports and discussion of this rescue can be found here: CLMRG assists in Lone Pine rescue

One of the pictures from the set: The helicopter with all excess gear removed, EVEN THE DOORS!, and litter on the hoist, ready to go.

By the way, our Mt Whitney Hikers Association was able to make a $250 donation to Inyo SAR this year. Your donations to the WHA help!