Mono Search and Rescue Operations

The following accounts of field operations are the best efforts of the newsletter editor or other source person, are not official reports, and may have errors and omissions, for which apologies and regrets are expressed in advance.

This page will generally contain only operations that have occurred within approximately the past twelve months. All operations can be found in the yearly highlight pages.


CH-47 Chinook Helicopter extracting subject
CH-47 Chinook Helicopter extracting subject

March 21, 2015. 15-174. #4 On Saturday, March 21, 2015, the Mineral County (Nevada) Sheriff dispatch center received a 911 call from a climber, age 33 of Reno Nevada, who reported that he had broken his leg in a fall. He reported his location as being near Matterhorn Peak, which is approximately 15 miles southwest of Bridgeport, California in the Sawtooth mountain range. His 911 call was transferred to the Mono County Sheriff's office dispatch center in Bridgeport California, but the call was terminated due to poor cell phone reception. Attempts to re-establish contact were unsuccessful, so his exact whereabouts were unknown. Mono County Sheriff deputies located his vehicle at Mono Village, Twin Lakes, the trailhead used for access to the Matterhorn Peak area.

The Mono County Sheriff Search and Rescue Team responded along with a helicopter from the California Highway Patrol based in Auburn, California. Due to high winds the CHP helicopter had limited capability for searching the peaks and valleys near the 12,000 foot peak, so a larger helicopter was requested. Just prior to dark a rescue helicopter from Fallon Naval Air Station reached the search area and was able to spot the subject at approximately the 10,000 foot level on a steep slope just below the crest of a ridgeline known as The Cleaver two miles north of Matterhorn Peak. The Navy helicopter tried numerous times to lower a medic, but were unsuccessful due to high winds, the steep slope angle, and darkness.

That evening Mono County SAR personnel began hiking in to the subject's location. A larger helicopter and assistance from the Inyo County SAR team was requested for Sunday morning. While SAR personnel were climbing to the location a California National Guard CH-47 Chinook helicopter from Stockton, California, was able to lower a crewman to the subject, and he was hoisted up to the helicopter. He was flown to Bryant Field in Bridgeport, and transferred to Mono County Paramedics. Medics transferred him to a CareFlight helicopter for transport to Renown Medical Center in Reno, Nevada.

The CH-47-F helicopter was one of ten delivered to the National Guard in December, and this rescue was the first one for this model. New equipment on this model was a critical component in the helicopter being able to rescue the climber from his high altitude, windy, steep slope location. The helicopter pilot was able to use the new 'hover hold' feature to maintain a precise position while very near the cliff face during the extraction operation. Other agencies providing valuable assistance in obtaining and coordinating military resources used in this rescue were the California Office of Emergency Services and the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center in Langley Virginia.

Responders were: Greene (Ops), Minder (IC), DeGeorge (Ops & IC), Beck, Hammack, Dodson, Cucura, Barnum, Jeff Hunter, Caara Hunter, Robertson, and Thompson.

Discussing situation with Navy Flight Crew that located subject
Discussing situation with Navy Flight Crew that located subject
Early helicopter flight searching for subject
Early helicopter flight searching for subject

Setting up GPS for possible walk-in to subject
Setting up GPS for possible walk-in to subject

Setting up GPS for possible walk-in to subject
Setting up GPS for possible walk-in to subject
Potential extraction route
Potential extraction route


March 14, 2015. 15-161 #3 At 0830 the Team was called out to conduct search operations in the Owens Gorge for a missing climber in conjunction with Inyo County SAR. Spontaneous search efforts by the subject's friends and family had been underway for several hours prior to authorities being notified. Prior to our arrival, a friend of the subject located his deceased body at the bottom of a climbing route in the Sub Gorge below the paved access point. Twelve Mono SAR members staged on the lower gorge access road, joining the lnyo SAR team already on scene. Though the location was in Mono County, it was determined that the best course of action would be a combined effort. Due to steep terrain and to minimize rock fall hazards, the victim was brought upstream about a quarter mile via hand carried litter, traveling in and out of the river in the bottom of the gorge to more moderate terrain where a rope aided haul could complete the extrication. 600 feet of rope was rigged with a 4 to 1 mechanical advantage, anchored to SAR trucks on the road. Responders were: Greene (Ops), DeGeorge (IC), Case, Corning, Carole Schilz, Brad Schilz, Hammack, Dodson, French, Endo, Gilbreath, Ackerman, Soucy, and 8 members of Inyo SAR.


February 5, 2015. 15-081 #2 The Team was called out for a report of a hiker stranded on or near Iron Mountain. A 22 year old male from Idaho flew to Mammoth intending to hike to Iron Mountain. He walked from Main Lodge to Devils Postpile, and camped there two nights. The next morning (Feb 5), he started toward Iron Mountain, but soon lost the trail. He was concerned about a storm coming, and low food, so called his father, who initiated an emergency call. The Madera County Sheriff handled the requests for air support. CHP H40 responded, but was unable to safely operate in the high winds. The Team sent two snowmobiles down for ground support in the event helicopter aid was not available or successful. Late in the afternoon a big twin rotor CH-47 Chinook helicopter from the National Guard at Sacramento located the subject, and hoisted him up on a jungle penetrator. He was taken to Mammoth airport, where he was met by a Team member and taken to his hotel. Responders were: Corning (Ops), Vetter (Ops), DeGeorge (IC), Hammack, Guffey, Soucy, Hartstrom, Gilbreath, Robertson, and Dan Tonseth.


January 25-26, 2015. 15-056 #1 On the evening of Sunday, January 25, 2015, at approximately 10:00pm, the Mono County Sheriff's Office received a call regarding a hiker with an ankle injury in the White Mountains.

A male hiker, age 19, from Dyer, NV, was hiking in the backcountry of the White Mountains when he injured his ankle jumping off some rocks along the trail, during a camping trip to Crooked Creek.

Upon attempting to walk, he was unable to put weight on his ankle and requested assistance to exit the backcountry in the morning.

On the morning of Monday, January 26, 2015, at 6:00 am, the Team responded to the Crooked Creek area with two rescue trucks and the Polaris Ranger.

The Team was able to locate the injured hiker. He was evaluated by an EMT and safely transported out of the backcountry Responders were: DeGeorge (Ops), Corning, Guffey, Holmquist, Cucura, and Hammack.



Ops14-740 - extracting subject via wheeled litter
Ops14-740 - extracting subject via wheeled litter
photo and movie by Megan Guffey

October 1, 2014. 14-730 #31 A 59-year old Camarillo woman on a backpacking trip fell while crossing a creek near Skelton Lake, not far from the Duck Pass Trail. She injured her ankle, and her husband hiked to the trailhead and called for assistance.

The SAR team was dispatched and hiked to the patient along with her husband. The team stabilized her ankle with a vacuum splint and transported her to the trailhead by wheeled litter. Responders Were: Holmquist (Ops), Gilbreath (Ops), Schmidt (Ops), Dodson, Cowan , Guffey, Corning , Soucy, French, and Roski.

Movie Loading ...

Tuolumne SAR members and Mono SAR  Mike Britton and Natali Endo
Tuolumne SAR members and Mono SAR Mike Britton and Natali Endo

September 22-23, 2014. 14-709 #30 On Monday evening about 2030, Dispatch received a 911 call of a report of a lost hunter near Poison Creek. Two hunters from Southern California set up camp in late afternoon near Poison Creek. Then one of the hunters took his rifle and left camp to do some scouting, intending to be back in 20 minutes and before nightfall. He failed to return to camp, and was not equipped to spend a cold night outdoors.

Tuolumne County SAR Team and Members of Mono SAR  Caara Hunter and Natali Endo
Tuolumne County SAR Team and Members of Mono SAR
Caara Hunter and Natali Endo

The Team was called out that night, with four members responding. The search area was in varying terrain including thick timber, willows, brambles, a creek and rocky slopes. Cal OES was contacted for mutual aid. On Tuesday SAR teams from Alpine and Tuolumne Counties responded, as well as CHP helicopter H-40.

About 1700, the helicopter crew spotted a person partially matching the hunter's description lying in a wash about a half mile north of his camp, near Poison Creek. The person appeared to be unable to move but could wave at the helicopter. Ground searchers went to his location and confirmed it was the lost hunter. He had fallen down a steep section of wash and spent the night in cold temperatures. Although he was not injured, he was exhausted and unable to walk out.

He was evacuated by hand carried litter to a road, and transported in a truck to Base. After evaluation by Mono County Paramedic he was released to family who had come to the search base. Responders were: DeGeorge (Ops & IC), Vetter (Ops), Corning (Ops), Dodson, Hartstrom, Hammack, Caara Hunter, Jeff Hunter, Endo, Gilbreath, Robertson, Dan Tonseth, Britton, Beck and Cucura.


September 13, 2014. 14-692 #29 At 7 p.m. on September 13, 2014, the Mono County Sheriff Search and Rescue Team was called out for two day hikers that had become disoriented in the Garnet Lake area and couldn't find the trail back to the trailhead. Team members hiked to their location based on cell phone data, and were able to locate and guide them out to the trailhead at 1 a.m. Responders were: Greene (Ops), Dodson, Robertson, and Hammack.


September 14, 2014. 14-691 #28 A hiker heard from two other hikers that they saw someone who might need help descending on Mt. Ritter and was cliffed-out. YOSAR helo 551 searched Mt Ritter but was unable to located anyone needing assistance. The possible person needing help subsequently called saying they were OK and needed no assistance. Responders were: Greene (Ops).


September 11, 2014. 14-681 #27 A hiking party of two heard someone possibly calling for help while hiking the trail below Mammoth Rock. SAR personnel responded to the location on the trail. Just prior to reaching the area a person called in saying they were searching for a lost dog in the area and were the persons the RPs were calling out to. Responders were: Greene (Ops), DeGeorge (IC), Guffey, Dodson, Cowan, Cucura, Webb, and Maroti.


Ops 14-636 - evacuating subject via wheeled litter
Ops 14-636 - evacuating subject via wheeled litter

August 26, 2014. 14-636 #26 A 77 year old woman from San Diego hiked to the top of Duck Pass with other members of her hiking club, but on the return on a short climb out of the Barney Lake basin she became quite ill with some loss of consciousness, and was unable to continue.

The Team responded with a hasty team hiking from the Coldwater trailhead to locate and assess the subject, closely followed by 3 other teams with other gear and wheeled litter, which was fortunately carried part way by a mule and packer from the Mammoth Lakes Pack Outfit.

She was evacuated approximately 3 miles via litter to the trailhead, where she was met by Mono Country Paramedics, and transported by ambulance to Mammoth Hospital for treatment. Responders were: Vetter (Ops), DeGeorge (IC), Dodson, Greene, Corning, Guffey, Soucy, Cowan, Holmquist, Schmidt, Hartstrom, Gilbreath, and Robertson.


August 15, 2014. 14-607 #25 Two hikers were attempting to climb a ridge in the Sawtooth Range near Bridgeport. During the ascent, they were climbing a 45 degree ice field with ice axes. One of the climbers, a 31 year old visiting from Japan, fell when his ice axe failed to hold during a self arrest. He slid and tumbled 125 feet down the ice into the rocks below. He sustained serious injuries to his arms, ribs and abdomen with bone visible on an arm injury. There was heavy bleeding. The subject asked his friend to pressure dress both of his arms with his bandanna and webbing.

There was no cell phone coverage at the location so, after treating the injuries, his friend hiked out 2.5 hours to call for rescue. Six team members staged at Bryant Field while helicopter 551 from Yosemite attempted to locate the injured subject. Initially, the subject was not found, so a ground team was inserted to search for him. He had moved from where his friend had left him and attempted to walk out of the area. Fortunately, he was located a short time thereafter by the ground team. He was stabilized and flown out of the area for further medical treatment. The ground team walked out. Responders were: Greene (Ops), DeGeorge (IC), Guffey, Beck, Dodson, and Hartstrom.


Ops 14-599 - Transporting subject from Arrowhead Lake via wheeled litter
Ops 14-599 - Transporting subject from Arrowhead Lake via wheeled litter

August 14, 2014. 14-599 #24 At approximately 2 p.m., a 32 year-old woman sustained a leg fracture by striking a tree while swinging from a rope out over Arrowhead Lake.

The SAR team, Mono County Paramedics, and Mammoth Lakes Fire Department personnel hiked to her location, stabilized the fracture, and transported her 1-1/2 miles to the ambulance at the trailhead using a wheeled litter.

The rescuers were assisted in the carryout by a group of cross-country runners from California State University San Marcos. She was taken to Mammoth Hospital for treatment. Responders were: Greene (Ops), DeGeorge (IC), Dodson, Guffey, and Gilbreath.


August 13, 2014. 14-598 #23 A family of 4 and another party of 7 were climbing Mt. Conness. The leader told the others he would take his family up a steep route of the mountain and meet the others who were taking an easier route at the top. The other group got to the top but the family of 4 never showed up.

The Reporting Party then called 911 for Search and Rescue from the summit, reporting the family overdue. El Dorado County Sheriff Department and Alpine County Sheriff Departments put their SAR teams on standby. YOSAR staff did an urgency assessment and could only commit searchers for daylight the next day. A Mono County Sheriff deputy confirmed the vehicles were at the trailhead, consistent with them still being on the mountain. Six Mono SAR team members responded to Saddlebag Lake. Upon their arrival, several head lamps could be seen descending the area south east of Mt. Conness. Phone contact revealed the family was okay and with the others. There were no injuries, and further efforts were suspended. Responders were: DeGeorge (Ops), Dodson, Case, Robertson, Cucura, and Hammack.


August 12, 2014. 14-595 #22 A 911 call from a day hiker indicated that he and his fiancé were lost in the San Joaquin River valley. They had walked from Reds Meadows to Rainbow Falls, but then became lost trying to get back up to Reds Meadows. The woman was diabetic, and did not have any medication with her on the hike. She was chilled and felt she would soon be ill and unable to hike. At this point they were nearly six miles south of Reds Meadows. The Team staged at Minaret Vista, and were able to get air support for a search from Yosemite National Park helicopter 551. The helo crew was briefed and then flew to the subject's location, landed, and loaded both subjects for transport to SAR base at Minaret Vista. The diabetic subject was assessed by Mono County Paramedics, signed a medical waiver, and was transported to her vehicle at Mammoth Mountain. Responders were: Greene (Ops), DeGeorge (IC), Cucura, Barnum, Dodson, Endo, Hartstrom, Gilbreath and Hammack.


August 6, 2014. 14-587 #21 On the evening of Wednesday, August 6, 2014, at approximately 6:00pm, Mono County Sheriff's Dispatch received notification that a SPOT device had been activated on the PCT Trail near Upper Piute Meadows. Two ultra-marathon runners were attempting to run from Tuolumne Meadows to Sonora Pass in 24 hours. They departed Tuolumne Meadows around noon, carrying only minimal food and supplies. Numerous storm cells were passing through the area, and they got wet, cold, and were concerned about stream crossings and flooding. Team members responded to the incident, and readied food and shelter to be hiked in to the runners. A Navy Seahawk rescue helicopter crew from the Top Gun school at Fallon Naval Air Station located the runners, safely hoisted them aboard the helicopter and transported them to the Bridgeport Airport. Mono County Paramedics assessed the runners, one of whom was experiencing stage-two hypothermia. After providing warmth and food, SAR team members transported the runners to their vehicle parked in Tuolumne Meadows. Responders were: Vetter (Ops), DeGeorge, Greene, Hammack, and Dodson.


China Lake Naval Air Station helicopter delivering subject to Mammoth Airport
China Lake Naval Air Station helicopter delivering subject to Mammoth Airport

August 5, 2014. 14-585 #20 A 68 year old man was camping with two of his friends at Big McGee Lake when he was injured when he fell on rocks during building of a line for hanging food. He sustained a significant laceration to his right knee with extensive bleeding.

His friends were able to come to his aid and then sent out a distress signal with a SPOT beacon. The signal was relayed to staff at the California Office of Emergency Services. Upon confirming the location, the Mono County Sheriff's Department was contacted to conduct a rescue.

Ten SAR members staged at McGee Creek trail head, and ground teams hiked toward the subject's location with medical equipment while a helicopter was being sought. A Navy Seahawk helicopter crew from China Lake Naval Air Station responded, and just before midnight was able to land near the subject.

Following a patient assessment, he was flown to Mammoth Airport and transferred to Mono County Paramedics, who transported him to Mammoth Hospital for medical treatment. Responders were: Vetter (Ops), Corning (Ops), Greene, Hammack, DeGeorge (IC), Dodson, Robertson, Gilbreath, Barnum, and Britton.


Ops 14-582 - Preparing to evacuate subject
Ops 14-582 - Preparing to evacuate subject

August 4, 2014. 14-582 #19 About 1 PM, a 16 year-old boy was injured while hiking in the Deer Springs area on the PCT with his family on a 10 day trip. He jumped from a rock and twisted his ankle, sustaining an injury to the top of his foot. He was initially in a high level of pain and unable to carry a backpack or continue to hike. His father called 911.

The Team was called out, and hiked in about 5 miles over Mammoth Pass. His injury was splinted and he was able to walk out of the back country with the aid of crutches and the SAR team members. Once back at Horseshoe Lake, he declined further medical treatment. He and his family were transported to lodging in Mammoth Lakes by SAR personnel. Responders were: DeGeorge (Ops & IC), Brad Schilz, Carole Schilz, Robertson, Webb, Dodson, Corning, Scotese, Dan Tonseth, Glenn Goryl, Barnum, Roski, and Greene.


August 4, 2014. 14-581 #18 Shortly after 1 AM, the Team was called to respond to Frog Lake in the Virginia Lakes area in aid of a man with severe medical symptoms. The subject had hiked back to his camp at Frog Lake following dinner and drinks at Mammoth Bluesapalooza. During the hike, he had no jacket and had become chilled by light rain. He told the RP he did not feel good and after a short time, was unable to feel his feet or his hands. After a couple hours, was unable to move his extremities and alternated between being lucid and then losing consciousness. The RP ran to the Virginia Lakes trail head and phoned 911. The Team was called out and Mono County paramedics were also dispatched to the scene. He was assessed for effects of hypothermia and stabilized, and a medical carry out was conducted. The subject was transported to Mammoth Hospital for further treatment. Responders were: Holmquist (Ops), DeGeorge (IC), Schmidt, Robertson, Cucura, Britton, Dodson, Glenn Goryl, Hammack, Beck, and Leyen.


August 2, 2014. 14-577 #17 At approximately 3 p.m. on Saturday, August 2, 2014, the Mono County Sheriff's Department received a call for aid of a father and son climbing team on Mount Ritter, a popular peak to climb located 13 miles northwest of Mammoth Lakes, California. The two, from Washington, D.C., had reached a point on their descent that was blocked by a waterfall, and they were unable to continue their descent from the peak due to the high volume of water coming down the steep slope. The Mono County Sheriff Search and Rescue Team responded, along with a helicopter from the California Highway Patrol based in Auburn, California. The helicopter inserted a two person search and rescue climbing team in the valley 400 feet below the father and son. Due to favorable wind conditions, the helicopter was then able to hover over the father and son, and was able to load them in the helicopter while maintaining a hover next to the rock ledge where they were stranded. It took them to Mammoth Yosemite Airport, and then went back to the scene and extracted the two search and rescue members. Responders were: Greene (Ops), DeGeorge (IC), Dodson, Holmquist, Webb, Buccowich, Endo, Glenn Goryl, Cucura, Roski, Case, Thompson and Hammack.


July 28, 2014. 14-564 #16 To access a family mining claim on steep and rocky slopes above Mill Creek in Lundy Canyon, two brothers from Utah and Nevada climbed up with backpacks and tools. They became stranded in rainy weather on a steep slope and were unable to go up or down safely. They talked to a family member below with Family Radio transceivers, who drove down to the Forest Service fire station to call for help. The Team responded and climbed up above the subjects, then belayed a member down with harnesses and helmets for the cold and wet miners. They were belayed and assisted in climbing up to safety, then escorted down to the trailhead. There were no injuries. Responders were: Greene(Ops), DeGeorge (IC), Cucura, Endo, Cowan, Hammack, Candice Tonseth, Dan Tonseth, Dodson, Gilbreath, and Glenn Goryl.

Lundy Canyon Rescue - A long way up
Lundy Canyon Rescue - A long way up
Lundy Canyon Rescue - UP we go
Lundy Canyon Rescue - UP we go

Lundy Canyon Rescue
Lundy Canyon Rescue
Lundy Canyon Rescue - Down we go
Lundy Canyon Rescue - Down we go

Lundy Canyon Rescue - Joe got the fallen Black Bag
Lundy Canyon Rescue - Joe got the fallen Black Bag
Lundy Canyon Rescue - Last few steps
Lundy Canyon Rescue - Last few steps


July 20, 2014. 14-452 #15 Shortly after midnight on Sunday morning the Team was called out for two climbers that were stranded on Clyde Minaret. The two had begun the climb on Saturday, July 19, but due to thunderstorms during the day they were unable to complete the climb before darkness fell, becoming stranded at the 12,000 elevation. Due to hypothermia and dehydration they were unable to complete the climb and descent on Sunday morning. The Team was able to obtain the assistance of two helicopters, H40 from the California Highway Patrol based in Fresno, and the other from the California National Guard based in Stockton. The CHP helicopter crew was able to hoist one of the climbers, but due to the arrival of heavy rain and clouds they were unable to rescue the second climber. Once the rain and clouds cleared two hours later, the National Guard helicopter was able to retrieve the second climber. Both climbers were flown to the SAR base located at Minaret Vista. Neither climber required medical treatment after an initial evaluation by the Mono County Paramedics. Responders were: Greene (Ops), DeGeorge (IC), Beck, Case, Dodson, Glenn Goryl, Hartstrom, Scotese, Thompson, Barnum, Endo, Roski, Hammack, and Cucura.

CHP H40 landing at Minaret Vista SAR Base
CHP H40 landing at Minaret Vista SAR Base
Taking a 'care package' to CHP H40 to take to the stranded party. They spent a cold/wet night on Clyde Minaret
Taking a 'care package' to CHP H40 to take to the stranded party. They spent a cold/wet night on Clyde Minaret

We also had the help of this military Chinook, twin rotor helicopter. Can you say FLYING BUS?
We also had the help of this military Chinook, twin rotor helicopter. Can you say FLYING BUS?
The Chinook heading in
The Chinook heading in

The last subject was successfully hoisted out and brought back to SAR Base at Minaret Vista
The last subject was successfully hoisted out and brought back to SAR Base at Minaret Vista
The de-brief once everyone was wrapped up. It is always good to review and learn from a mission
The de-brief once everyone was wrapped up. It is always good to review and learn from a mission


July 18, 2014. 14-546 #14 Friday afternoon a couple were returning from a multi-day guided backcountry pack trip. Approximately 1.5 miles from the Agnew Meadows pack station both of their mules spooked and both were thrown. The male suffered a bruised leg and the female sustained more serious injuries with her chief complaint being her shoulder and ribs. The Team responded with eleven volunteer members, and after medical evaluation put her in a full body splint and evacuated her with a single wheel litter. At the trail head she was transferred to the care of the paramedic crew who took her to Mammoth hospital. Eight team members were in the field with three members in base. Responders were: Corning (Ops), Hall, Beck, Dodson, Greene, Leyen, Britton, Robertson, Maroti, Roski, French, and Carole Schilz.


July 18-19, 2014. 14-529 #13 On Friday July 18, 2014, the Team responded to a call for help from the parents of a 22 year old backpacker who was separated from friends on the Pacific Crest Trail and lost in the general area of Cora Lake, which is about 12 trail miles south of Highway 108. The subject was able to send a text message that he was waiting to be rescued. Search teams reported at 4 AM, and were given assignments covering three routes toward Cora Lake. California Highway Patrol helicopter H40 from Fresno was requested to join the search. Another text message from the subject indicated a more precise location. In rapidly deteriorating weather and increasing winds the crew of H40 was able to extract and transport the subject to Mammoth airport in late afternoon. Ground teams were in the field for 14 hours, and logged 120 hiking miles. Responders were: Vetter (Ops), DeGeorge (IC), Corning, Greene, Glenn Goryl, Andrea Goryl, Jeff Hunter, Caara Hunter, Hartstrom, Ackerman, Beck, Hammack, Dodson, and Hall.

Cell phone tower plots - from Bill Greene
Cell phone tower plots - from Bill Greene

July 8, 2014. 14-494 #12 Mutual aid to Tuolumne County, Dodge Ridge. Search for an overdue couple who were not prepared to be out overnight. The PLS was at Burst Rock, last seen at 1200 July 6. The subjects were located just before Mono SAR members arrived at 0700, and were hiking out with Tuolumne SAR members. Mono SAR members carried food and supplies to teams in the field. Responders were: Dodson, and Glenn Goryl.


July 8, 2014. 14-497 #11 A woman and her husband were hiking with 3 llamas in the area of Burro Pass, toward Matterhorn Peak. She was injured and was flown out by YOSAR on July 6. Her husband began hiking out with the 3 llamas, but had difficulty with them, and did not get out when expected on July 8. A search was organized, but before it got started he arrived at the Twin Lakes trailhead. The llamas were still in the backcountry. Responders were: Corning (Ops), DeGeorge (IC), and Vetter.


July 4, 2014. 14-485 #10 The Mono County Sheriff Search and Rescue team was notified at 5 am that a pair of backpackers from Los Angeles (brothers, 40 and 45 years old) were overdue, as of the previous evening, from a trip between McGee Creek and Coldwater Campground. Upon inquiry with family, it was learned that the brothers believed that the hike was only fourteen miles in length and had planned to do the hike in 24 hours including one night of camping and with fishing en route. The journey is in fact 24 miles long, and it seemed likely that the brothers were simply delayed because of the underestimation of trip length. At 2 pm, the family received a cell call indicating that the party was nearing Red's Meadow. Lacking a map, the two had departed from their intended route and had found themselves hiking along trails through Cascade and Fish Valleys, moving downslope and west towards the San Joaquin River.

The family drove to meet the brothers at the trailhead and reported that the two had been sighted approaching the parking lot. A follow-up call to the family revealed that the brothers had in fact separated in the morning in Fish Valley and that only one brother had exited the backcountry. The brothers were moving at different paces and had decided to separate so that the family could be notified as soon as possible. The slower-moving hiker was expected to be one to two hours behind the brother who had exited. The SAR team had been in contact with Devils Postpile National Monument concerning an earlier disoriented hiker who had hiked south instead of north as she attempted to return to the trailhead from Rainbow Falls. The law enforcement ranger who had located this person on the trail was contacted by the Postpile, and she hiked below Rainbow Falls to see if she could either locate the slower hiker or someone who had seen him, in order to confirm his progress towards the trailhead. She did not make contact with anyone who had seen the hiker. Given the heat, shortening day, and likely minimal remaining food, the decision was made to send SAR hikers down the trail in search of the backpacker. Seconds before the callout was made to the team, the ranger reported that she had encountered the remaining brother, and the two of them exited the trail together. Responders were: Holmquist, Devils Postpile National Monument


CHP Helicopter off-loads rescued backpacker
CHP Helicopter off-loads rescued backpacker

June 24, 2014. 14-449, CAL OES 2014-LAW-3934 #9 Mutual Aid to Fresno County. A Muir Trail hiker from Florida became disoriented in the Cascade Valley area. For 24 hours she attempted to re-locate the trail and became ill in the process.

She activated her SPOT personal locator beacon, sending out a distress signal via satellite communications. Fresno County was notified and a helicopter from CHP responded to the area to attempt the rescue.

Due to the location and weather conditions, the helicopter was unable to land. The crew was unable to determine the severity and nature of the hiker's situation from the air, and flew to Mammoth Airport and requested the Mono County Sheriff's Search and Rescue Team to assist with a hoist operation.

Team members responded to the airport. A SAR Team member who is an EMT accompanied the H40 crew back to the hiker's location and was lowered down to evaluate her medical condition. No medical treatment was needed and she was hoisted out, with the SAR member, and flown to the Mammoth airport.

No further medical treatment was needed and she was taken to a hotel in Mammoth Lakes. Responders were: DeGeorge (Ops), Andrea Goryl, and Glenn Goryl.


Long night, but ready to hike out
Long night, but ready to hike out


June 21, 2014. 14-441 #8 Mutual aid to Tuolumne County. The Team was called out to assist the Tuolumne County Sheriff's Department with rescuing a stranded backpacker.

While on a three-day trip a backpacker slid down a snowfield just west of the Mono County/Tuolumne County border approximately six miles south of Highway 108.

Due to her precarious situation on the edge of a cliff, her hiking partner called for help using his cell phone.

CHP helicopter H40 from Fresno was tasked with inserting two Tuolumne County technical search and rescue personnel. They were able to reach the uninjured subject just as the sun was setting.

Mono County SAR personnel hiked into the location that night to bring in additional rescue gear and over-night gear.

All parties hiked out the following morning to the SAR base located at Leavitt Lake. Responders were: Greene (Ops), Andrea Goryl, Glenn Goryl, Hartstrom, Hammack, Case, Dodson, Endo, and Roski


Ops 14-441
Ops 14-441

June 16-17, 2014. 14-431 #7 Mutual aid to Inyo County. A 60-year old man from Dumont, New Jersey was reported overdue at camp by his hiking partners during a hiking trip on Mt Whitney. Search teams from Inyo and China Lake began searching on the night of the 15th, and the Mono County Sheriff Search and Rescue Team was activated on the 16th. Mono assignments on the 16th and 17th were centered in the 99 Switchbacks and Consultation Lake areas. Additional teams joined the search, and the body of the hiker was spotted in steep terrain to the west of Mirror Lake on the 19th. His remains were recovered on the 20th. Responders were: Holmquist (Ops), Andrea Goryl, and Glenn Goryl


Injured Forest Service Trail Crew worker evacuated by helicopter
Injured Forest Service Trail Crew worker evacuated by helicopter

May 22, 2014. 14-364 #6 A 20 year old Forest Service trail maintenance crew member sustained a knee injury near Davis Lake #2.

The Team requested the assistance of California Highway Patrol Helicopter H40 based in Fresno, California.

H40 was able to land in a meadow 1/3 of a mile from the trail crew's campsite, and with the assistance of other trail crew members they carried the injured man to the meadow landing zone.

He was flown to Mammoth Yosemite Airport, and then taken by Mono County Paramedic Ambulance to Mammoth Hospital for treatment. Responders were: Greene (Ops), Andrea Goryl, and Glenn Goryl.


Injured hiker on Rush Creek Trail resued via wheeled litter
Injured hiker on Rush Creek Trail resued via wheeled litter

May 5, 2014. 14-340 #5 A 34 year old woman from Berkeley, CA started in Yosemite on a solo hike. After coming over Donahue Pass she joined up with two other hikers.

On the Rush Creek Trail she twisted her left ankle on some rocks and fell to the ground. Upon attempting to walk she was unable to weight her ankle and was experiencing a high level of pain.

One of her companions walked out to get help.

The Team responded with eleven members and staged at the Rush Creek trailhead at Silver Lake.

Ground teams hiked to the subject's location, did a patient assessment, and evacuated her to the trailhead by wheeled litter.

Once at the trailhead, the injury was further stabilized/splinted. The subject refused further treatment, signing a Release of Care Against Medical Advice form. The RP drove her back to her vehicle parked at Tuolumne Meadows. She intended to seek medical treatment near her residence.

Responders were: Vetter (Ops), Corning, Greene, Dodson, Andrea Goryl, Glenn Goryl, Schmidt, Holmquist, Toussaint, DeGeorge, and Hammack.


April 24, 2014. 14-290 #4 At dusk on the afternoon of April 24, 2014 the Mono County Sheriff Search & Rescue (SAR) Team was called out to search for a missing person. Approximately 1 mile north of Highway 203 on Highway 395 the subject left his family and walked into the forest west of the highway. The SAR team was called out to search for the subject due to concerns of a pre-existing medical condition, and the lack of proper clothing for the expected cold night temperatures. Shortly after the SAR team began to track the subject's footprints he telephoned a family member and reported that he had come back to the highway and had hitchhiked to Lone Pine. Responders were: Greene (Ops), French, Glenn Goryl, Scotese, Julao, Guffey, and Ackerman.


April 12, 2014. 14-251, #3 At about 0700, the Team was called for further searching in the Chidago Loop area. The area was searched by line searches as well as directed area searches. The line searches of the area yielded discovery of a number of weathered bone fragments and discovery of a depression/disturbed area in the ground which was excavated. Found items were photographed in place, GPS coordinates taken and then collected by investigators. The case remains under investigation by the Sheriff's Department. Responders were: DeGeorge (Ops), Endo, Andrea Goryl, Porges, Merchant, and Corning.


April 6, 2014. 14-251, #2 At about 0800, the Team was called out to aid in a search for human remains in the Chidago Loop area. Six SAR team members responded and staged at Chidago Loop Rd. The area was searched with a RECCO device for any electronics present and the team conducted visual line searches as well. The line searches of the area yielded discovery of a number of weathered bone fragments. The items were photographed in place, GPS coordinates taken and then collected by investigators. The case remains under investigation by the Sheriff's Department. Responders were: DeGeorge (Ops), Greene, Holmquist, Schmidt, Scotese, and Case.


Heavy damage as a result of the rollover
Heavy damage as a result of the rollover
More Pictures

February 27, 2014. 14-163, #1 Two non-residents were driving up a steep road to the Champion Spark Plug Mine in Jeffrey Mine Canyon. The vehicle left the roadway and rolled over repeatedly down into a steep canyon sustaining heavy damage.

Both subjects sustained injuries in the accident but were able to extricate themselves and call 911 on a cell/satellite phone. Multiple agencies were dispatched and responded to the accident scene. The responders included Chalfant Valley FD, White Mountain FD, CHP, Symons Ambulance, USFS, CDF, Mono County Sheriffs Deputies, and Mono County SAR.

The Ranger ATV was launched and assigned to conduct a patient assessment and possible transfer with personnel already on scene. One of the subjects had been secured on a backboard in the rear of a USFS pickup truck and the other back seat of a CVFD Expedition with both enroute down the mountainside.

Upon patient contact and assessment with the treating medical personnel, it was determined the subjects were adequately packaged for transport so no transfer was conducted. The subjects were taken by ambulance to the hospital. Responders were: DeGeorge (Ops), Greene, Glenn Goryl, and Andrea Goryl.


Older Operations will be found in the yearly Highlights pages.