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.


August 21-22, 2016, 16-???, #27 [Mono County Sheriff Press Release] On Sunday, August 21, at approximately 4:15 p.m., the Mono County Sheriff’s Office received a call regarding an adult male who had jumped into the San Joaquin River at Lower Rainbow Falls, which is located in Red’s Meadow in Madera County. It was reported that the male was floating face down in the water. Extremely cold water temperatures and underwater current prohibited witnesses from reaching the victim. It was determined by emergency first responders on scene that the victim was deceased.

A second victim was found sitting at the bottom of a steep incline near the pool. The second victim had attempted to rescue the first victim and was suffering from hypothermia as a result of being in the water which was estimated to be 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Mono County Sheriff Deputies, Mono County Sheriff Search and Rescue, Mono County Paramedics, and Mammoth Lakes Fire Department were able to rescue the second victim.

Efforts to rescue the first victim were unsuccessful as the victim had submerged in the pool and was no longer visible to emergency personnel. Recovery efforts were put on hold as darkness fell as a safety precaution. The Mono County Sheriff’s Office staffed the scene overnight until recovery efforts resumed the following morning.

On August 22, at approximately 11:00 a.m., the decedent was recovered by Madera County Sheriff’s Department, Mono County Sheriff’ Office, Mono County Sheriff Search and Rescue, Mammoth Lakes Fire Department. The Mammoth Mountain Ski Area provided personnel and logistical support for the recovery effort.


August 13, 2016, 16-437, #26 A 23 year-old man from San Marino, California had been cliff diving into Arrowhead Lake when he sustained injuries. He jumped from approximately 40 feet above the water, but struck a tree on the way down before hitting the water. He was able to reach shore, but he was unable to return to his vehicle at the trailhead due to the injuries he incurred. The Rescue Team responded to the scene, along with Mono County Paramedics. He was transported to the Duck Pass trailhead using a wheeled litter, and was taken to Mammoth Hospital for treatment of his injuries. Responders were: Greene (Ops), Casabian (IC), Cowan, Viren Perumal, Denton, Thompson, Cucura, Case, Ron Hall, Drake, and Hartstrom.


August 12, 2016, 16-428, #25 A 17 year old female from Santa Margarita, CA sustained an ankle injury near the inlet of Shadow Lake, and was unable to walk. The call initiated with the Madera County Sheriff, who requested aid from CHP helicopter H40 and the Mono County SAR team. H40 picked up a SAR member at the Minaret Vista LZ, and landed him on the mud flats near Shadow Lake. He located and packaged the subject for a hoist operation. Another Team member hiked in to assist in carrying out the subject's backpack. Meanwhile H40 landed at nearby Ruby Lake and picked up a 28 year old woman from Fairbanks, Alaska who had an injured right foot. She had been married just four days prior, and was on her honeymoon. She was taken to Minaret Vista by H40. H40 then returned to Shadow Lake and hoisted up the first subject and took her to Minaret Vista where she was met by her father, who signed a medical release form and stated he was transporting her to Mammoth Hospital. H40 returned to Ruby Lake to pick up the subject's husband and took him to Minaret Vista to join his rescued wife. They used public transportation to seek medical care. Responders were: Corning (Ops), Minder (IC), Greene, and Denton.


August 10, 2016, 16-426, #24 A 20 year old man from Marita, CA and his father were hiking in the Saddlebag Lake area, above Cascade Lake. While in steep terrain, attempting to get to the top of the ridge line, he slipped on rocks and vegetation and fell approximately twenty feet. He injured both ankles in the fall, with a possible broken left ankle. Guide staff from the Saddlebag Lake Resort came to his location and assessed carrying him out to the resort but were unable to do so due to distance and terrain. They then radioed the resort for assistance. A staff member had to leave the resort (no phone) to contact the Sheriff's Department Dispatch Center and report the incident. Fifteen Team members responded to the call. A hasty team hiked to the subject's location at 10,660 feet to begin a patient assessment while other ground teams brought in a wheeled litter. Following the medical assessment, the victim's leg was splinted. He was transported down in the litter about 600 feet of elevation to Saddlebag Lake, then taken to the resort by boat. He signed a medical waiver and his father took him to Mammoth Hospital for treatment. Responders were: Leyen (Ops), DeGeorge (IC), Ron Hall, Luke Hammack, Greene, Viren Perumal, Denton, Endo, Hartstrom, Julie Perumal, Drake, Case, Robertson, Barnum, and Traxler.

Ops 16-426 Thank You note

August 5, 2016, 16-413, #23 A hiker on the River Trail out of Agnew Meadows encountered a 60 year old female backpacker from Cobb, CA. in distress near the river crossing below Shadow Lake. Intending to backpack to Yosemite, her husband had dropped her off at the trailhead the day before. She was disoriented and seemed to be dehydrated. She had a very large 60 pound pack, had only hiked a mile and a half that day, and was not able to continue her trip. The RP called 911 to get help. Due to the location in remote Madera County, with no rapid response available from their rescue resources, the Team sent two members who hiked to the subject and joined the RP and others who were assisting her back to the Agnew Meadows trail head. Her husband came to pick her up. She was advised to hydrate and not to attempt a backpacking trip with heavy weight. Responders were: DeGeorge (Ops and IC), Greene, and Cucura.


August 3, 2016, 16-407, #22 A 46 year old man from Berkeley, CA was attempting to climb a gully to the top of a ridge line above West Lake at 11,400 feet. He traversed into an area with a large amount of large, loose sliding rocks above a snow field. He was unable to move up or down without triggering a rock slide he feared might carry him onto the snowfield and severe injury. It was late in the day and he felt he could not maintain his position into the night without falling. He then called 911 for help. His call was received by CHP dispatch and was transferred to the Mono County Dispatch Center who verified the location at 38.08617700, 119.346199 to be within Mono County near the Tuolumne Mono County Border above the Green Creek area. The California Highway Patrol was contacted for assistance and the aircrew of H-40 was briefed on the situation. The area was over 11,400 in altitude so the crew stripped their aircraft of excess weight, and flew to the area and located the victim on the steep slope, but was unable to perform a hoist operation due to the high altitude. Eight Team members staged at Lee Vining airport. A ground team was inserted by H40 on the ridge above the victim while additional air resources were requested from California OES. The ground team descended to the subject's location and helped him down out of the hazard area with aid of a fixed rope. Helicopter Lasso 4 from Lemoore Naval Air Station landed and transported the subject and rescuers to Bridgeport Airport. The subject was not injured in the incident. Responders were: DeGeorge (Ops and IC), Greene, Luke Hammack, Viren Perumal, Cucura, Barnum, and Brodbeck.

Ops 16-407 location map
Ops 16-407 Stranded climber above West Lake
Ops 16-407 Stranded climber above West Lake

Click Here For More Ops 16-407 Pictures


August 1, 2016, 16-397, #21 At 1100 the Team was called out to aid a 23 year old man from Texas with an ankle injury near Donahue Pass at 10,600 feet. Helo resources were requested and a ground team assembled at the Rush Creek trailhead. CHP helicopter H-20 out of Auburn was able to land near the subject and fly him to Mammoth Lakes airport. Mono County paramedics took him to Mammoth Hospital for treatment. Thanks are due to SCE technicians who were enroute to activate the tram and boat facilities to assist in inserting ground teams. Responders were: Corning (Ops), Pelichowski (IC), Dodson, Endo, and Greene.


July 31, 2016, 16-xxx, #20 The team responded to a mutual aid request from Alpine County, searching for a 71-year-old woman who was last seen walking away from her campsite near Lake Alpine about 2 p.m. July 28. Responder: Luke Hammack (21 hours).


July 26, 2016, 16-383, #19 The Team was called to aid a 55 year old injured woman from Santa Cruz. She was hiking in the Carnegie Institute area west of Saddlebag Lake with her husband and son. She fell striking her lower left leg/knee on a rock and sustained an injury there. Her husband splinted the injury but she was unable to walk out of the area or bear weight without high pain. Her husband then went to the Yosemite National Park entrance and called 911 for help. Ten team members responded and staged at the Junction Campground. Field teams hiked in and found the subject south west of the Carnegie Institute. Following a medical assessment, she was placed in a wheeled litter and transported back to the trail head. At the conclusion of the carry out, she signed a release of liability and would seek further medical treatment on her own. Responders were: DeGeorge (Ops and IC), Robertson, Luke Hammack, Greene, Endo, Barnum, Dodson, Traxler, Viren Perumal, and Ackerman.

Ops 16-383 Thank You note

July 23, 2016, 16-376, #18 At 1630 Sheriff deputies were called to Convict Lake for a report of a party of 11 overdue hikers. The hikers were to have returned by mid-afternoon. The 3 reporting parties, who had separated from the group and hiked out earlier, were concerned because the overdue hikers were not prepared for a long hike. According to the RP's the overdue hikers had very little water, no emergency gear, were inexperienced and were not in the physical condition to do the hike from Mildred Lake. Deputies questioned runners that were on the trail and did a visual search of the immediate area. With no sign of the overdue hikers, Mono County Sheriff SAR was called to do a search up the Convict Lake trail. Before SAR teams could be launched, all 11 overdue hikers arrived at Convict Lake. No injuries or medical issues reported. Call ended 19:15. Responders were: Barnum (Ops), Pelichowski (IC), DeGeorge, Greene, Case, Hartstrom, Cowan, Robertson, Viren Perumal, and Buccowich.


July 20, 2016, 16-369, #17 On July 20, 2016 at about 3:30pm, the Mono County Sheriff's Office received a 911 call regarding a 21 year old female injured solo hiker from Canada. She who had possibly suffered a sprained ankle along with dehydration, altitude sickness and exhaustion. She was reported to be on the Pacific Crest Trail near Leavitt Lake within Mono County, and had been immobilized because of her injuries and declining health. The location was reported to be 38.28171000, -119.644504. Mono County Deputies along with members from the Mono County Search and Rescue and Tuolumne County Search and Rescue Teams were called out. CHP Helicopter H-20 was requested and responded from the CHP Valley Division located in Auburn, CA. A landing zone (LZ) was established at the Caltrans Yard located at Highway 395 and Highway 108. At about 5:20pm, the helicopter crew located the victim on the PCT, and was able to land and safely extract the subject. She was flown to the LZ where Mono County Paramedics were awaiting her arrival. The Mono County Paramedics later transported the victim to the Carson Valley Medical Center where she was treated for her injuries. Responders were: Corning (Ops), Casabian (IC), DeGeorge, Hartstrom, Greene, Cucura, and Ron Hall.


The team at the PCT/Leavitt Lake hiker rescue

July 19, 2016, 16-363, #16 At 1030, the SAR team was called out for an injured female hiker from Louisiana on the PCT. The hiking partner stated they had been on the PCT for about a week. When the subject lifted her pack that morning to put it on, she rolled her ankle on a rock. The call was made by a passerby who climbed to the top of the hill for cell service. After calling 911 the RP continued on her way. A hasty team was launched, aided by the Polaris Ranger ATV, which got them close to the summit of the old road. They proceeded on foot for another mile, locating the subject and did a medical assessment. Three SAR members from Tuolumne County were also transported to the summit. During that time the hasty team had packaged and carried the subject back to the pickup point. Tuolumne SAR then proceeded back to base on foot, so the Ranger ATV would have space to carry the subject and her hiking partner back to base. Mono County Medic One transported the subject to Carson Valley for medical care. Responders were: Corning (Ops), Vetter (Ops), Casabian (IC), Luke Hammack, Beck, and Ron Hall.


July 16, 2016, 16-357, #15 MLFD-3397 and Medic 3 requested assistance on a 1.5 mile carry out from Rainbow Falls lookout point to Rainbow Falls trail head for a 51 year old female from Los Angeles who had broken her right ankle dismounting her horse. Upon dismounting her horse the saddle slipped and she fell to the ground breaking her right ankle. Two packers working for the Reds Meadow Pack Station were with the subject, witnessed the fall, and called 911 for assistance. Mono SAR reached the trail head just prior to MLFD and Paramedics exiting and were able to assist the last 300 yards. Responders were: Barnum (Ops), DeGeorge (IC), Greene, Endo, Shelby Pracht, Kaukola, Traxler, and Ron Hall.


July 15, 2016, 16-xxx, #14 A male subject reported he was unable to find his way in the dark back to his camp at Minaret Lake. The Ops leader had text messaging contact with the subject during the night from 0300 to 0800 when Unified Command was assumed by Madera County Sheriff and Mono County Sheriff. The subject made a phone call to Madera County Sheriff stating that he was no longer in need of assistance. Responders were: Greene (Ops), and Krystyl Hansen (IC).


Ops 16-348 - If you look carefully you can see the team rigging lowering system above cliffs
Ops 16-348 - If you look carefully you can see the team rigging lowering system above cliffs

July 10, 2016, 16-348, #13 At approximately 1307, Search and Rescue was requested by Mammoth Fire to assist with getting two men and a dog off of a small cliff near Mammoth Rock.

A man was walking his dog near Mammoth Rock when his dog chased a rabbit down a ravine. He and a friend climbed down into the ravine to retrieve the dog and became trapped on a ledge, unable to go up or down safely with the dog.

He called 911 for help. SAR personnel and Mammoth Fire personnel set up a rope system and lowered both men and the dog to safety, where they were able to hike out. Responders were: Barnum (Ops), Greene, Robertson, and Pelichowski (IC - unified command with MLFD chief).


June 26, 2016, 16-319, #12 The Team was called at 0630 to aid a 27 year old man who complained of hip and knee pain and wanted assistance to get out of the back country. His group of hikers in the Granite Staircase area had gotten separated and off trail when headed down Stairway Creek. They bivied at 37.579497, -119.133167. The next morning the rest of the group arrived and was able to assist the subject, so the SAR Team was not needed. Responders were: Barnum (Ops), K Hansen (IC), Dodson, Case, and Guffey.


June 25, 2016, 16-318, #11 A request came from the Madera County Sheriff Department to assist a 61 year old woman and her dog near the Fern lake Trail. She had started on a day hike at approximately 11 am but had twice lost her way coming back from Fern lake. Madera County Sheriff Department sent her a map via her phone and she was able to find her way back to the trail. She had cell service throughout the call so kept in regular contact with Madera County and the Mono SAR ops leader. She had very little water and food, no flashlight, and no warm clothing. She had become very tired, dehydrated, hungry, cold, and panicky. She felt she needed assistance crossing Kings Creek because of her condition and dissipating light. She was found at 2257. She refused any medical assessment or medical care. She was given food, water, warm clothing, and was assisted across the creek and to the trailhead back to her car. Responders were: Barnum (Ops), Vetter, Guffey, Cucura, Hartstrom, Dodson, and Greene.


Ops 16-251 - Subject treated and packaged for transport
Ops 16-251 - Subject treated and packaged for transport

May 19, 2016, 16-251, #10 On Thursday May 19 at 1700, the Team was called for a day hiker who had fallen while scrambling on some rocks near Rush Creek Falls.

June Lake Fire had already dispatched four members to access the scene and attend to the subject's injuries.

It was determined that the patient would need full body stabilization and that the extraction would include some pitches requiring roped low angle lowerings.

Team members hiked in with the necessary gear via the Edison tram tracks.

After 4 pitches of roped lowerings the Team reached the trail and wheeled the subject out to the Silver Lake Resort where he was met by Paramedics and transported to Mammoth Hospital.

Responders were: Corning (Ops), Minder (IC), Greene, Luke Hammack, Barnum, Robertson, Hartstrom, Drake, Brodbeck, Wenslau, DeGeorge, and Endo.


Low angle technical rope techniques used to lower subject down slope
Low angle technical rope techniques used to lower subject down slope
Low angle technical rope techniques used to lower subject down slope
Low angle technical rope techniques used to lower subject down slope

May 13-15, 2016, 16-242, #9 On Friday May 13 at 1430, the Team was notified of a missing 27 year old man from Orange County. He disappeared from their family camp on the shore of Crowley Lake. He was last seen about midnight by the other 3 in the party but they didn't realize he was missing until morning. Ground teams, a dog team, Ranger ATV, and CHP Helicopter H40 searched Friday. On Saturday ground teams, Ranger ATV, Sheriff boat teams, and a dive team from Eldorado County searched from 0700 to 1700 when strong winds hindered divers. On Sunday ground, dive, Ranger ATV, CHP helicopter, dog, and boat searches continued until 1430 when the Sheriff suspended the search. 313 man hours were volunteered by the SAR Team. Responders were: Vetter (Ops), Corning (Ops), Estridge (IC), Barnum, Holt, Vianzon, Gilbreath, Ackerman, Greene, Tonseth, Traxler, Brad Schilz, Kaukola, Guffey, Denton, Felix, Brodbeck, Drake, Bold, Hartstrom, Beck, DeGeorge and Wenzlau.

UPDATE: The subject's body was recovered from Crowley Lake on May 22, 2016.

Helicopter search for missing person
Boat search for missing person

Search dogs were used to search for missing person
Team member gears up for missing person search


April 25, 2016, 16-215, #8 At 1130 SAR was called for a group of three overdue backcountry telemark skiers in the Mammoth Lakes Basin. They were due out on the 24th at noon, the RP was concerned because she had not heard from them since Thursday and they were now 24 hours overdue. As the ops team went to work determining their route, making plans, and working up resources for a search launch, the group walked out on their own at 1630. Responders were: Vetter (Ops), DeGeorge (IC), Corning, Leyen, Robertson and Barnum.


April 1, 2016, 16-173, #7 The Team responded to the town of Mammoth Lakes to assist in an evidence search. Line searches were conducted in high probability areas along each side of the roadway. Responders were: DeGeorge (Ops), Greene, Corning, Vetter, Cucura, Carole Schilz, Barnum, and Brad Schilz.


Location photo

March 8, 2016, 16-128 #6 While descending Pete's Dream on Carson Peak, at around 1:30pm, at approximately 10,200’, a party of three skiers and one snowboarder came to a narrow choke section with a slope of about 40 degrees. 2 skiers skied thru safely one at a time and anchored up in safe location below.

The 3rd skier was part way down when he triggered a slope failure which propagated about 100ft above him releasing a slab avalanche with a crown of 14-18” across the width of the slope (~50ft wide). This swept him off his feet, carried him violently down the chute for approximately 300-400 vertical feet, smashed him into a diagonal rockwall breaking his ankle, before he was able to fight his way back ontop of his skis and make it left out of the avalanche to a zone of safety as the avalanche continued down-slope and over large cliffs.

The snowboarder descended, the party regrouped, and they initiated a call to Search and Rescue and a helicopter evacuation.

The injured skier was able to ski down with assistance from the others to an area they believed a helicopter would be able to access. Of note during this part of the decent, the party kicked off numerous additional very sensitive small windlsab avalanches (crowns 4-6”).

After 30-45minutes of huddling together trying unsuccessfully to keep the injured skier warm, the party decided that based on the windy conditions and the uncertainty of how long a helicopter would take to arrive (and if it did if it would actually be able to assist them in these windy conditions) they decided to self-evacuate.

Despite being in immense pain, the injured skier was able to make it down this challenging terrain on one ski with the assistance of his partners, until they met search and rescue personnel with a rescue litter a few hundred yards above double eagle resort. It took approximately 4 hours from the time of the accident to the time the injured skier was in an ambulance.

Thirteen SAR team members and CHP helicopter H40 staged at the June Mountain parking lot. The helicopter flew a recon of the area and determined the group with the injured skier had descended low enough on the mountain that a ground team could reach them and an air operation would not be necessary. The ground team hiked in and met them. After a medical assessment, the victim was packaged in a litter and transported down to the road to Mono County Paramedics for further medical treatment. Responders were: Corning (Ops), DeGeorge (IC), Greene, Dodson, Leyen, Luke Hammack, Tajia Hammack, Guffey, Endo, Cucura, Tonseth, Buccowich and Beck.


Carson Peak evacuation
Carson Peak evacuation

Report from The Sheet newspaper:

Local skier survives avalanche scare on Carson Peak

Local resident Brett Lotz survived a slab avalanche on the Carson Peak line Pete's Dream on Tuesday, March 8, managing to ski his way out of the slide and suffering only a broken ankle.

Lotz, 39, who was accompanied by two other expert skiers and one expert snowboarder, had skied the line numerous times, according to a report by the Eastern Sierra Avalanche Center's Josh Feinberg.

Feinberg, who is an ESAC forecaster, reported, "A very active natural cycle of avalanches took place throughout the region mostly early Sunday morning during the intense snow and wind load period," and that more snow had been deposited Saturday through Monday.

Feinberg reported that the party had viewed the line from the road and made note of a natural avalanche. "This gave them a sense of reassurance that avalanche danger would be now lessened as they could see it had already slid."

After beginning their descent from the peak around 12:30 p.m., the skiers produced several avalanches with ski cuts. One cut "produced a larger avalanche with [approximately] 8-10" crown which… appeared to 'clean out' the majority of the line below. This result again gave the party a sense of reassurance…," Feinberg wrote.

When the party approached a choke section of Pete's Dream, with an approximately 40 degree slope, two of the skiers navigated the section one at a time and anchored below. Lotz was the third person to approach the section. Feinberg wrote that Lotz "triggered a slope failure which propagated about 100 [feet] above him releasing a slab avalanche…This swept him off his feet, carried him violently down the chute for approximately 300-400 vertical feet, smashed him into a diagonal rockwall (sic), breaking his ankle, before he was able to fight his way back on top of his skis and make it left out of the avalanche to a zone of safety as the avalanche continued down-slope and over large cliffs."

"This avalanche was triggered when the 3rd skier presumably hit a 'sweet spot' where the overlying wind slab was less thick and the weight and force of his skiing was enough to penetrate through and cause a failure in the weakness between this newer windslab and the underlying snow."

Feinberg said the experienced party saw in hindsight the folly of the decision to ski Carson Peak at that time. "If you talked to them, they said, 'we shouldn't have gone out there, that was a dumb idea.'"

"Hopefully the fact that [Lotz] wasn't seriously hurt can be a reminder, a good heads up to give respect to the winds of the Sierra. The power of the winds and how quickly conditions can change even in the span of a couple of hours. From something that can be safe to something that can be dangerous."

The party viewed the line from the road, but when they began their descent, winds had picked up and conditions changed. "If you think conditions are certain ways and you get up somewhere, you get to a point where it's kind of hard to turn around."

Notably, Lotz was wearing Dynafit bindings, with the toe in "locked up" position, Feinberg reported. In an accident two weeks prior, Dynafit bindings had been a subject of contention-24-year-old Aaron Shober was wearing Dynafit bindings to ski a challenging line, the "Ripper Chute," on Dana Plateau. Shober left his toe lever in the down/ski position "as recommended by Dynafit," reported Nate Greenberg, President of ESAC. His skis subsequently released, resulting in the loss of both skis and a 2,000 foot slide. Shober suffered a dislocated hip and was airlifted from the location.

In the Carson Peak incident, Feinberg wrote, "injured skier using Dynafit bindings, with toe in 'locked up' position. Both heals (sic) of bindings released, but toes did not. Perhaps if ski had completely released he wouldn't have had ankle broken, but also he may not have been able to ski out of avalanche, and very likely could have been swept over cliffs resulting in much worse injury or death."

"There's no right answer," Feinberg said when asked about the locking issue.

"If you're skiing something in avalanche danger where there's not cliffs involved, probably have them releasable. So if you're in a significant slide you want to be able to kick off your skis and if you can't kick them off they could weigh you down and lead to you getting buried. There's no definite answer."

"In general, in higher avalanche situations it's better to have the option to get rid of your equipment."

As the party self-rescued, with the others assisting Lotz, they triggered additional small avalanches.

Lotz was able to make it through the steep and technical terrain on one ski with assistance until he was met by June Mountain ski patroller and SAR volunteer Fletcher Buccowich several hundred yards above the Double Eagle Resort. Feinberg reported that it was approximately four hours from the time Lotz was injured until he was loaded into an ambulance and taken to Mammoth Hospital.


February 21, 2016, 16-106 #5 The subject experienced a dislocated hip after taking a fall down Ripper Chute off the Dana Plateau. A team of two was inserted by CHP helicopter H40 to package the subject who was then hoisted by the helicopter and brought down to the Hwy #120 winter closure. The subject was taken by ambulance to Mammoth Hospital. The team snowshoed down to the road with the subject's two ski companions. After treatment the subject was released from the hospital later that evening. Responders were: Minder (Ops & IC), Thompson, Endo, Viren Perumal, Beck, Greene, Cucura, Luke Hammack, and Tajia Hammack

Report from The Sheet newspaper:

Accident on Dana Plateau’s Ripper Chute results in dislocated hip

Viren Perumal guides litter as it is hoised to CHP H40 Helicopter
Viren Perumal guides litter as it is hoised to CHP H40 Helicopter

A day of backcountry skiing turned into a frightening ordeal for Aaron Shober when the 24-year-old fell approximately 2,000 vertical feet on Sunday, Feb. 21 after his ski released in the Ripper Chute on Dana Plateau.

“It got kinda scary and he got really lucky,” said Nate Greenberg, who was skiing with Shober. Shober, who was airlifted by Mono County Search and Rescue, suffered a dislocated hip.

Greenberg, President of the Eastern Sierra Avalanche Center (ESAC), said the biggest message he and his fellow skiers took from that day was the need to be able to handle an emergency situation.

“You need to be self-sufficient, and you need to be prepared when all else fails to be able to handle the situation on your own with limited support from rescuers at least for some extended period of time,” Greenberg told The Sheet.

“At the most basic level that means wilderness first aid ... but then just understanding basic rescue protocol—how to not only administer first aid but to think about long-term strategies for patient comfort or extrication.”

Greenberg said the accident was a “wake up call” for him—his own Wilderness First Responder certification is about fifteen years old. He also said that though first aid is not what ESAC does on a daily basis, “at a minimum we think there needs to be an awareness campaign around that kind of stuff ... [and] how to better work with Search and Rescue.”

Greenberg prepared a statement in which he described the accident— another big lesson, he said, was knowing one’s gear. Shober did not lock out his Dynafit bindings before skiing the chute.

“As [Shober] landed his first hop turn his downhill ski released on him, followed almost immediately by his other ski,” wrote Greenberg. “Though he made several attempts to selfarrest using the Whippet he had, he was moving too fast and conditions were too firm.”

“Though he managed to avoid hitting either wall of the couloir, he did tumble over a small pile of rocks before going out of sight to the bottom of the couloir. We shouted to him several times but got no response. We collected his gear ... and headed down to find him ...”

Greenberg was able to call 911 from his cell phone and obtain helicopter support, he said. “The two Search and Rescue members and the two backcountry skiers hiked and skied out under light of the full moon,” wrote the Mono County Sheriff’s Office in a press release.

Shober was discharged from Mammoth Hospital later that evening.

Greenberg said he knows Dynafit users are divided on the subject of locking out bindings. “Certainly if you are skiing in avalanche terrain or in a scenario where you want your ski to come off in a fall, that is best,” he wrote. “But in conditions and terrain like we were skiing that day, when avalanche hazard is minimal yet the risk of losing a ski could result in serious injury or death, locking them out is probably the lesser of two evils.”

“Big lesson learnt here,” Shober wrote on the social media site Facebook.

“Thank you again to everyone involved who got me home safe.”

Getting organized at staging area on Highway 120
Getting organized at staging area on Highway 120

Viren Perumal discussing operation with helicopter pilot
Viren Perumal discussing operation with helicopter pilot

H40 helicopter at landing zone where team members were inserted
H40 helicopter at landing zone where team members were inserted

Dana Plateau Chutes
from Backcounty Skiing - California's Eastern Sierra ©Wolverine Publishing


Steve Romeo skiing the Ripper Chute in 2010
Steve Romeo skiing the Ripper Chute in 2010 ©tetonat.com
Natai Endo and Viren Perumal ready to go in H40 helicopter
Natai Endo and Viren Perumal ready to go in H40 helicopter

Subject hoisted to CHP H40 helicopter
Subject hoisted to CHP H40 helicopter

Climbing the Ripper Chute in 2010
Climbing the Ripper Chute in 2010 ©tetonat.com


February 14-16, 2016, 16-097 #4 On Sunday night February 14, Mono County dispatch received a 911 call from a 28 year old man from Santa Barbara who was lost in the White Mountains. The 911 call gave coordinates for the subject in the Millner Creek drainage. The Mono County Sheriff Search and Rescue Team was called out at 11:30 PM, and made cell phone contact with the subject. He had ridden a motorcycle up to the Spark Plug mine area, and had then hiked to the summit of White Mountain Peak, but became disoriented on the descent and went into the wrong drainage. The subject was not prepared for a night out, wearing jeans and sneakers, but was able to start a fire and had enough fuel to last the night.

The Team drove to Sierra Vista with three snowmobiles, a Polaris Ranger, and two quad ATVs. The subject was advised to call 911 every hour so his progress toward the Barcroft station could be tracked. He made progress for two hours, then contact was lost. The snowmobiles had a difficult time finding enough snow to progress and were having to take circuitous routes. By mid-day the snow had softened to the point where the wheeled vehicles were getting stuck. After numerous digging and winching-outs, the wheeled vehicles could not continue, but stayed in the field to act as radio relay with the snowmobile teams.

When they reached Barcroft there was no sign of the subject. They continued on toward his point last known and found him still hiking near the observatory. He was then given a ride back to the Sierra Vista base. The snowmobiles logged 44 miles round trip.

One of the SAR Team members offered to give him a ride back to his motorcycle. The dirt road was very rough and rocky from flash floods last year; the Team member's vehicle blew out a tire and was not able to continue. The subject left at that time to hike back up to the mine to get his motorcycle and then ride out. Two Team members in the Polaris Ranger were able to navigate the washed out roads in the dark, and with the help of the White Mountain Ranch manager, reached the disabled vehicle and evacuated the Team member, but the rescued subject had not returned as planned.

The following morning SAR members returned to ensure that the lost subject was not lost again, and to extract the vehicle. The subject was encountered as he drove down from the mine. With a new tire the vehicle was successfully driven out. Responders were: Corning (Ops), Vetter, Beck, Hartstrom, Roski, Holt, Webb, Greene, Case, Holmquist, Schmidt, and Dodson


February 13, 2016, 16-096 #3 On Saturday February 13, the Team responded to rescue a 43 year old woman from Southern California who was with a guided group heading in to attempt a winter accent of Matterhorn Peak. Approximately 2 miles in from the Horse Creek trailhead at Twin Lakes Bridgeport, she displayed symptoms of stroke. Team members hiked in to her location to assist members of Bridgeport Fire who were already on scene. Litter transport was very slow due to icy conditions. CHP Helicopter H40 from Fresno arrived on scene and was able to extract the subject via winch and Bosun's chair. She was flown back to the Twin Lakes parking lot, and transferred to a Care Flight helicopter for transport to medical care in Reno. Responders were: Sgt. Minder (Ops & IC), Beck, Hartstrom, Ron Hall, Jon Hall, Dodson, Thompson, Corning, and Barnum.


January 13, 2016, 16-025 #2 On January 13 at 0914, the Sheriff's Department received a 911 call from a Livermore, CA man, age 24, stating that he was stuck on Paoha Island in Mono Lake. He told dispatch that he had departed from Navy Beach the prior morning at 0700, and kayaked to Negit then Paoha Island, where he set up camp. He indicated that while sleeping the winds began to blow at a high rate, which blew his tent away and destroyed it. He said he did not have enough supplies to make it through another night and was unable to kayak back to Navy Beach. A deputy responded, towing a Sheriff patrol boat to the launch ramp at the shrimp plant in Lee Vining, where he was met by a SAR Rescue Member and a Lee Vining Fire Department member. At 1100 the patrol boat launched on Mono Lake enroute to Paoha Island. At 1142 the subject was located on the Northeast side of the island and picked up. He was transported back to the launch ramp at the shrimp plant in good health and required no medical attention. He was given a ride back to his car at Navy Beach. Responders were: Luke Hammack, a Sheriff deputy, and a Lee Vining Fire Department member.

Here is a video by Luke Hammack of the boat ride.


January 10, 2016, 16-016 #1 A 37 year old Los Angeles man, while snowboarding with friends off of the backside of Mammoth Mountain, became separated from his companions. He contacted Mono County Sheriff via cell phone, and a rescue was started. Vetter, who was working at Tamarack that day, deployed two Tamarack snowmobiles to the Twin Lakes campground and Horseshoe Lake. His location was relayed as 37.618647/119.020514. He was found near the Bottomless Pit area and returned to his friends before 1700 hours. Responders were: Vetter (ops), and Corning.


November 28, 2015, 15-799 #44 Two men from Southern California rented snow shoes and hiked down from Main lodge at Mammoth Mountain. They became bogged down near Agnew Meadows, sinking 2-1/2 feet into the snow, and one of their snowshoe straps broke. They called 911 for assistance. Dispatch was able to provide a location which put them at the junction of Postpile Rd. and the turn-off to Agnew meadows. Three team members on three snowmobiles located and extracted the subjects, who were cold but otherwise OK. Responders were: Corning (Ops), Soucy, Beck, and Luke Hammack.


November 20-21, 2015, Mutual Aid 2015-LAW-20086 #43 On Thursday, November 19 the Sheriff's office received a request for mutual aid to help search for a missing hiker in the Mt. Whitney area. A Rescue Member responded on Friday to assist with the search, along with approximately 40 additional personnel from various other California rescue teams. Friday's search resulted in a helmet and beanie being located near avalanche debris on the slope to the west of Meysan Lake. A second Rescue Member responded on Saturday morning with the Team's Recco device and avalanche probes. They were inserted via California National Guard CH-47 helicopter to a LZ on the south shore of Meysan Lake, along with two avalanche dog teams and approximately 40 personnel for probing the debris field. The two Mono County members began searching the toe of the debris field with the Recco device, and started receiving detection signals within a few minutes of beginning their search pattern. The hiker was located deceased under approximately 18 inches of snow. Responders were: Luke Hammack and Greene.


November 20, 2015, 15-779 #42 Two hikers from Ventura, California called 911 for help. The two friends had attempted to summit Mt. Morrison, but reached a spot on a steep slope where they were unable to continue either up or down. The Team responded to the trailhead at Convict Lake and sent teams into the hikers' location. The field teams were able to assist them down from their location and escorted them back to their campsite. Responders were: Greene (Ops), Endo, Viren Perumal, Taj Hammack, Hartstrom, Leyen, Gilbreath, and Webb.


November 11, 2015, 15-755 #41 At 2000 the SAR Team was requested to assist Mammoth Mountain Ski Patrol in locating an overdue snowboarder who lost his way near Fresno Bowl. The Peruvian native was reported overdue around 1630 hours although he was last seen at 1330. Ski Patrol followed his tracks to Sotcher Lake where the SAR team continued the search, locating the 39 year old snowboarder holed up in an impromptu shelter at midnight. He was returned to Main Lodge by 0100 in good condition and reunited with his friend. Responders were: Vetter (Ops), Corning, DeGeorge, Greene, Beck, Robertson, Gilbreath, Maxwell, Brodbeck, Taj Hammack, Luke Hammack, Jon Hall, and Drake.


November 2, 2015, 15-737 #40 Two Mammoth locals hiked out HWY 203 to Smuggler's Ridge to go snowboarding. They rode the ridge then became lost when they followed the wrong tracks at the bottom. They tried to use their cell phones to navigate back to the road but were unable to find it. They were able to call a friend, who called 911. They started a warming fire using one of the snowboards for fuel. Team snowmobiles were staged at Mammoth Mountain Ski Area. The lost snowboarders were located, assessed, and transported back to the ski area. There were no injuries. Responders were: Greene (Ops), DeGeorge, and Robertson.


October 15, 2015, 15-695 #39 On Tuesday, 10/13/15 at 0730, the RP dropped her husband off at the Duck Pass trailhead after leaving his vehicle at his intended exit point, McGee Creek trailhead. The subject knew the area well and was expected to be out of the backcountry by Wednesday afternoon. When he had not returned to his vehicle by Thursday morning, Mono County Sheriff dispatch was contacted and the SAR Team was called out. Team members were preparing to enter the field to search for him when dispatch was notified that he had hiked out. Responders were: Corning (Ops), Vetter, DeGeorge, Luke Hammack, and Brad Schilz.


October 14-15, 2015. 15-694 #38 A backpacker from Southern California was reported overdue to the Virginia Lakes trailhead, and was last seen by the RP on the east side of Burro Pass about 4 PM. The next morning he was contacted at the trailhead and given a ride to Bridgeport. Responder: DeGeorge (Ops).


September 28, 2015. 15-641 #37 A Mammoth resident became lost while hiking from McCleod Lake to the Crest. Direction was given to the Crest trail via cell phone. No further SAR action was needed. Responder: Greene (Ops).


September 24, 2015. 15-632 #36 Two backpackers from South Carolina became separated while on a backpacking trip from Tuolumne Meadows to Whitney Portal. The RP, who hiked out to Reds Meadow, reported at 9 PM that he had last seen his partner north of Garnet Lake. She had no map. A cell phone ping located her on the north side of Garnet Lake at 1503. Early the next morning she called, reporting that she was okay and back on the trail to Reds to meet the RP. Responder: Greene (Ops).


September 24, 2015. 15-630 #35 A hiker on the River Trail was reported overdue. The RP had misunderstood the expected day and time of finishing the hike, and eleven minutes later the hiker arrived. Responder: Gilbreath (Ops), via phone only.


September 23, 2015. 15-629 #34 The Team responded to the Rush Creek trail in response to a cell phone call from a Louisiana woman who had injured her Achilles tendon when she slipped on a rock. She encountered a physician who recommended she get an X-ray, so decided to exit the back country at Silver Lake. The Team met the injured party below Agnew Lake. She refused assessment of the injury and use of crutches the Team brought. Team members carried her pack to the trailhead, where she declined the need for EMS services. She was given a ride to Mammoth, where she signed a release of liability, and sought care on her own. Responders were: Corning (Ops), Guffey, and Jon Hall.


September 4, 2015. 15-575 #33 A wife called from Mono Village reporting that her husband (Colorado resident) had not returned from a backpacking trip as planned Friday afternoon. She had dropped him at Saddlebag Lake on Tuesday. She had not received any PLB text messages as they previously planned so she thought that he may need rescuing. She was not in a cell phone coverage area so two SAR team members met her and brought her to MONO-1 for contact with the Ops leader. While driving, her phone received messages from his PLB. As he had not activated his PLB emergency button, the RP agreed that SAR was not needed. Saturday morning he contacted MONO-1. He had terminated his hike early due to the hike being more difficult and longer than anticipated, and was with his wife. Responders were: Greene (Ops), Caara Hunter, and Jeff Hunter.


August 28, 2015. 15-549 #32 On August 25 a hiker from San Diego was on the north east glacier of Banner Peak. Near the base of the glacier, he saw the tip of a leather boot toe protruding from under a large boulder. He believed the boot was possible evidence of human remains under the boulder. He reported the find to the Mono County Sheriff's Department on 08/27/15 when he exited the back country. He provided photos of the boot, the GPS coordinates of the location and a view up the fall line of the glacier upon making the report.

Due to the location of the find being in Madera County, the Madera SAR Coordinator was contacted, and requested the Mono County to conduct an initial assessment of the scene. The California Highway Patrol was contacted and provided helicopter H-40 to assist in the operation. The helicopter inserted a ground team of two SAR members on 08/28/15. The ground team hiked to the glacier and located the boot.

They determined the area was too unstable to attempt to excavate the snow away from or extract the boot on the down side of the car sized boulder. A further check of the area yielded discovery of another, matching boot (left) lying about 25 feet away on the glacier. The boot was an old leather high top boot with a delaminated rubber sole. It was roughly 11 inches long, with hobnails. It was very weathered with some of the leather and rubber sole missing due to animal activity or weather. The lace was present but not tied with some of the lace missing. It bore no trace of any human remains inside.

It appeared the boot had been at the location for a number of years. The ground team returned to the location of the pinned boot, and determined they could check the inside of that boot by cutting the toe of it to determine if any remains were inside. After performing the cut, the toe was opened, showing no remains. Nothing further/remarkable was found and the team cleared the area. Madera County was advised of the above findings. Responders were: Greene (Ops), DeGeorge (IC), Bold, and Brodbeck.


August 27, 2015. 15-558 #31 A woman was belaying her husband who was rock climbing near Emerald Lake. During the climb, he pulled a boulder off the climbing route which fell, striking the victim. She sustained injuries to her foot, head and fingers. He called 911 and began to carry her out from the accident site down the trail on his back. The dispatch center sent Paramedics to the area and the Team began a response for a medical carry out. The paramedics were able to meet up with the couple on the trail. Following their patient assessment, the husband continued to carry his wife to the ambulance. Further response by SAR was then canceled. Responders were: DeGeorge (Ops & IC), and Greene.


Megan Guffey getting ready to be flown in and lowered down
Megan Guffey getting ready to be flown in and lowered down

August 22, 2015. 15-541 #30 On Saturday, August 22, 2015, a backpacker from Moraga, California, was injured while hiking on the trail below the Garnet Lake outlet.

He was not able to weight his left leg or continue hiking.

One of the people he was hiking with walked to a point where cell phone reception was available and called 911 for help.

Four Team members were sent into the field hiking to the subject. CHP Helicopter H40 was requested, and responded, but was not able to land.

They picked up a SAR member at Minaret Vista who was lowered to the ground near the subject.

With the help of other hikers the subject was packaged and carried to a spot where H40 could hoist the subject and fly him to Minaret Vista, where a Mono County Paramedic ambulance transported him to Mammoth Hospital for treatment. Responders were: Corning (Ops), DeGeorge (IC), Thompson, Dodson, Guffey, Brodbeck, Maxwell, and Beck.



August 19, 2015. S.O. Incident #1508190023, OES Mission #2015-LAW-15534, #29. A 58 year old woman near the outlet of Thousand Island Lake reported via DeLorme satellite communicator that she was feeling lethargic with a headache and nausea. Communication via text messaging through International Emergency Response an hour later indicated she was walking out to Agnew Meadows, and SAR assistance was not needed. Responder: Greene (Ops).


August 16, 2015. 15-532 #28 While on a pack trip on the Pacific Crest Trail near Lake Harriet with a group of 4 hikers and pack animals, a 52 year old female member of the group fell into a creek bed, sustaining a lower leg injury. She was unable to continue the hike out of the back country. A SPOT emergency locator beacon was activated to summon help.

The Mono County Sheriff's Department was then contacted by California Office of Emergency Services to handle the call. Due to the remote location, the SAR Team was put on standby and a helicopter was requested from the California Highway Patrol. Helicopter H20 from Auburn then responded to the area. The crew was able to land near the injured subject, assessed her injuries, and flew her to Mammoth Airport for Paramedic transfer to Mammoth Hospital for further treatment. Responders were: DeGeorge (ops/ic), Beck and Hartstrom were standing by, but were not needed.


Bill Greene ready to fly in and be hoisted down
Bill Greene ready to fly in and be hoisted down

August 16, 2015. 15-528 #27 On Sunday afternoon, the SAR Team responded to a report of a climber fall near Patricia Lake above Rock Creek Lake. While on the crux of the climb, the subject fell off the route.

The protective anchor he had placed in the rock failed when loaded, resulting in an unprotected fall of 50 feet, and a subsequent tumble of 40 feet.

He was not wearing a helmet, and was found to be unresponsive with multiple injuries due to the fall.

California Highway Patrol helicopter H40 was fortunately in the area, but was unable to land nearby due to high winds and terrain. The helicopter landed at the helispot near Tom's Place, and a SAR team member was flown to the victim's location and inserted by hoist.

With the aid of others at the scene, the subject was stabilized on a backboard with other medical equipment and hoisted into the helicopter.

He was transported to Mammoth Airport where Mono County Paramedics assisted SAR members and CHP aircrew in packaging the subject for direct transport by the CHP helicopter to Fresno Medical Center. Responders were: DeGeorge (Ops), Greene, Drake, Gilbreath, Robertson, Dodson, Ackerman, Webb, Maroti, and Brodbeck.


Subject unloaded from helicopter
Subject unloaded from helicopter
Subject being prepared for flight to hospital
Subject being prepared for flight to hospital


August 12-13, 2015. 15-521 #26 At 7 PM on Wednesday, during the monthly Team meeting, the SAR team responded to the report of an overdue hiker. A 45 year old woman from Mammoth had not returned from a hike as expected in the Convict Lake Area. The team dispatched two hasty teams, one of which spent the night in the field, tracking, and interviewing backpackers at their camps.

The next morning additional teams were sent into the field in addition to CHP Helicopter H40 from Fresno assisting in the search. The hiker eventually walked out on her own Thursday morning, after encountering hikers at Ram Lake who helped keep her warm and nourished during the night.

In the morning, she enlisted assistance from a horse pack group to call her husband and report that she was okay and walking out to Coldwater campground. After becoming disoriented and losing her way, she hiked over 20 miles, much of it cross country, climbing over 6300 feet, crossing a high ridge above Franklin Lake, and finishing 1500 feet higher than she started 30 hours earlier. Responders were: Vetter (Ops), Corning, DeGeorge, Gilbreath, Barnum, Cucura, Case, Jon Hall, Guffey, Thompson, Beck, Carole Schilz, Brad Schilz, Holt, and Greene.

Ops15_521 - Estimated route in blue taken by subject
Ops15_521 - Estimated route in blue taken by subject
Ops15_521 - Profile of estimated route taken by subject
Ops15_521 - Profile of estimated route taken by subject

August 10, 2015. 15-513 #25 The subject was on a back pack trip with a Boy Scout group starting from Silver Lake into the back country. When the group got to Horse Tail Falls above Silver Lake, the subject began feeling weak and trailed behind the group. The other pack leaders found the victim suffering from chest pains and radiating pain consistent with a heart attack. The RP then called 911.

The SAR Team was dispatched to the area along with June Lake Fire, Mono County Paramedics and a helicopter from Careflight. During the response, members of the scout group were able to obtain help from personnel from the Southern California Edison power plant, who have a tramway to Agnew Lake. They were able to use the tram to transport the victim to waiting paramedics who transferred him to a Careflight helicopter at the June Mountain Ski Area parking lot. The helicopter flew him to renown Medical Center in Reno for further treatment. Responders were: DeGeorge (Ops), Beck, Luke Hammack, Tajia Hammack, Drake, Barnum, Endo, Greene and Cucura.


August 8, 2015. #24 Ops Leader heard radio traffic that SO/MLPD were looking for a lost person off Scenic Loop. Went to lat/lon from 911 call and picked him up. Transferred to Deputy, who took him to his campsite. No case number. Responder: Greene (Ops).


August 8, 2015. #23 Dispatch called Saturday about 1800. Worked up op for separated/over-due party. During work-up RP established contact with missing party - waited with RP till party hiked out about 2200. No case number. Responder: Greene (Ops).


August 3, 2015. 15-493 #22 While backpacking with her family in the Saddlebag Lake area, 52 year-old female from Ventura began experiencing severe high altitude sickness symptoms. Family members hiked out and called 911 when they obtained cell phone coverage. The Team responded to their camp site at Shamrock Lake, and were able to carry her out using a wheeled litter. She was evaluated by Mono County Paramedics and taken to Mammoth Hospital for treatment. Responders were: Greene (Ops), DeGeorge (IC), Dodson, Luke Hammack, Beck, Jeff Hunter, Barnum, and Endo.

Preparing victim to be evacuated via wheeled litter
Preparing victim to be evacuated via wheeled litter
Evacuating victim via wheeled litter
Evacuating victim via wheeled litter

Evacuating victim via wheeled litter
Evacuating victim via wheeled litter

Evacuating victim via wheeled litter
Evacuating victim via wheeled litter
Transporting victim via ferry boat across Saddlebag Lake
Transporting victim via ferry boat across Saddlebag Lake


August 2, 2015. 15-492 #21 At about 2:30 PM, two people near Roosevelt Lake were reported in need of evacuation. The case involved a 63 year old male with an ankle injury that occurred the previous day, plus one additional person who was having some sort of stomach distress and was also unable to walk out. The two subjects spoke with a hiking party that morning, asking them to request assistance when they reached the trailhead.

They spoke with both the campground host at the Leavitt meadows campground (who called dispatch), and with personnel at the pack station, which sent three riders up the trail looking for the subjects at about 1 PM, based on the report from the hikers. The Team responded to Leavitt Meadows, but the evacuation was already under way by pack animal from the Leavitt Meadows Pack Station. Mono County paramedics responded, and took charge of the subjects. Responders were: Hartstrom (Ops), Barnum, Haugh, Cucura, and Jon Hall.


Ops 15-474 - CHP Helicopter extracting victim
Ops 15-474 - CHP Helicopter extracting victim

July 27, 2015. 15-474 #20 On Monday, July 27, 2015, a hiker on the Pacific Crest Trail at Lake Harriet, approximately 18 miles east of Bridgeport, called for help using a satellite phone. She had sustained an ankle injury and was unable to hike out. Due to the extreme distance from the nearest trailhead, the Mono County Sheriff Search and Rescue Team requested the assistance of a California Highway Patrol helicopter to extract the hiker from the backcountry.

Due to steep terrain it was unable to land near the hiker so the helicopter flew to Bridgeport to pick up additional fuel and also requested a Team rescue member to be available for insertion. The Team member was taken by helicopter to the hiker's location and lowered by the helicopter's cable hoist to the ground near the injured hiker. The hiker was hoisted up to the helicopter and taken to Bridgeport for evaluation by Mono County Paramedics. Responders were: Greene (Ops), Hartstrom, and Beck.


July 26, 2015. 15-468 #19 The Team was called to respond to the June Lake area for an injured man. Our response was cancelled shortly after as the situation was handled by other agencies on scene. Responders were: Greene (Ops), Taj Hammack, and Luke Hammack.


July 25 & 26, 2015. 15-466 #18 On Saturday night about 10:30 PM, the Team was called to aid two hikers from Petaluma who had summited Mt. Conness, but then could not find the descent route. They called from a ridge southeast of the summit, approximately on the Park boundary, at 12,300 feet. They were advised to stay where they were and shelter as well as possible until rescuers could reach them.

They attempted to find their way down, and last contact was at 2:30 AM north of Alpine Lake. SAR members hiked in from Saddlebag Lake, and within a few hours were able to find the pair about a mile west of the Carnegie research station. They were escorted out to Saddlebag Lake. Their car was at the Lundy Canyon trailhead, but their camp was at Steelhead Lake. Responders were: Corning (Ops), Beck, Luke Hammack, and Cucura.


July 25, 2015. 15-462 #17 Three separate SPOT emergency messages were sent from the Saddlebag Lake area. One from the resort boat dock, one from the north dock, and one from the trail north. The source was a 13 member Boy Scout backpack party headed to McCabe Lake and then on into Yosemite. Ops leader work-up only. Responder was: Greene (Ops).


July 24, 2015. S.O. incident 1507240028 #16 A cross country running team reported one of their runners overdue or lost east of Smokey Bear Flat. He was located while the Team Operations Leader was enroute. Responder was: Greene (Ops).


July 22, 2015. 15-451 #15 About midnight, a 66 year old diabetic man was reported missing from camp between Garnet and Shadow lakes. He had left camp to get water from Shadow Creek, and did not return. The RP was the wife (at home) of one of the hikers. She had received a text message from the missing subject's hiking partner who asked her to call Mono County Sheriff to request SAR.

The ops leader spent most of the night working up helo support with calls to CHP/OES/AFRCC/Fallon/Mather. Just as the Team was about to be called out, he got text message contact with the RP in the backcountry. 5 minutes later, the missing subject walked back into camp - okay but cold and hungry. A Mather Air Guard Blackhawk helicopter was just getting ready to launch when cancelled. Responder was: Greene (Ops).


July 20, 2015. 15-443 #14 On the afternoon of Monday, July 20, 2015, at approximately 12:30 pm, Mono County Sheriff's Dispatch received a call regarding an unresponsive male climber in the Clark Canyon area. The subject, age 37, of Mammoth Lakes, was rock climbing in a popular area known as Area 13 in Clark Canyon where he fell approximately 60 feet from the rock face. Mono County Paramedics, June Lake Fire Department, Mono County Sheriff's Search and Rescue (SAR) Team, and Mono County Sheriff's Office were dispatched to the area. Life saving measures were conducted but were unsuccessful and the subject was pronounced deceased at the scene. Responders were: Corning (Ops), Soucy, Scotese, Brad Schilz, Taj Hammack, Luke Hammack, Beck, and Endo.


July 13, 2015. 15-418 #13 On the evening of Monday, July 13, 2015, at approximately 8:40 PM, the Mono County Sheriff's Office received a call regarding an overdue day hiker near the Sherwin Creek campground. A male day hiker, age 44, from Orange, California, set out on a day hike around 2:30 PM. The hiker wasn't expected to be out for long, and when he didn't return when he said he would, the family became concerned.

The Team was dispatched to help in the search for the overdue day hiker near the Sherwin Creek campground. After securing the campsite for tracks, two SAR teams started searching nearby dirt roads and spoke with nearby campers to see if anyone had seen the overdue hiker. The hiker had walked to a familiar place but had found himself turned around when he tried to return to his campsite. Realizing he was lost, he tried to hail some motorists and knocked on an RV's door but no one would help.

Eventually he walked towards a light which put him at the closed-up YWCA Camp. The caretaker of the camp had previously spoken with one of the SAR teams, so when she found the overdue hiker, she gave him food and water, as he was very dehydrated and shivering, and called 911. The SAR team returned to the YWCA Camp and safely returned the overdue hiker to his family. Responders were: Vetter & Corning, (Ops), Drake, Wenzlau, Brodbeck, Ackerman & K-9 Takoda, and Case.


July 13, 2015. 15-417 #12 At 3 PM, the Team was called out for a female hiker with an injured ankle near Gem Lake and Rush Creek. Teams hiked in while base attempted to reestablish cell phone contact to determine the exact location and extent of injuries. Team reached the dam at Waugh Lake, interviewing persons along the way, but were unable to locate the subject. All teams were instructed to return to base. On the following day contact with YOSAR determined that subject was seen hiking out to Tuolumne Meadows and did not require assistance from Mono SAR. Responders were: Greene (Ops), Endo, Luke Hammack, Dodson, Thompson, Guffey, Jon Hall, Hartstrom, Drake, Webb, and Wenzlau.


July 1, 2015. no number #11 A half hour was spent on the phone guiding a lost person down from Deer Mountain back to the Inyo Craters trailhead. Responder was: Greene (Ops).


June 7, 2015. 15-334 #10 The Team was called out to assist with recovery of the remains of a visitor from Fresno, who was killed in a single vehicle rollover from the Laurel Creek road above Laurel Lakes. At approximately 6 P.M., the accident was witnessed from the slope above the road. The road at this location is steep, narrow, and has multiple sharp turns. The vehicle left the road and rolled down the steep slope, where it overturned several times, ejecting the driver and two dogs. One dog survived. Responders were: Greene (Ops), DeGeorge, Dodson, Robertson, Webb, Tonseth, Drake, Maroti, Hartstrom, Jon Hall, Endo, Viren Perumal, and Holt.


June 6, 2015. 15-000 #9 The Team was asked to shadow participants in the 24 hour Adventure Race from Mammoth Mountain to Bishop City Park, and be ready to assist if needed. A missing bike team was located, and a water rescue done of a kayak team at night on Crowley Lake with a Mono County Sheriff Boat Patrol officer. Responders were: Vetter (Ops).


June 2, 2015. 15-323 #8 The Team was called out to aid Mono County Sheriff deputies in an evidence search on a steep hillside near Monitor Pass on S.R. 89. A single car rollover accident resulted in a fatality for the driver, and scattered vehicle parts and contents along the path of the car. Responders were: Ackerman and K-9 Takoda, Ron Hall, Jon Hall, Jeff Hunter, Greene, and DeGeorge.


May 31, 2015. 15-316 #7 On Sunday May 31, the Mono County Sheriff Search and Rescue (SAR) Team was called out at 11:16 AM to rescue a backpacker from the Bay Area who was injured following a fall near Fern Lake in Madera County, about 5 miles southwest of Devil's Postpile. His right knee was painful and he was unable to put weight on it. Seventeen SAR Team members staged at Minaret Vista, and ground teams hiked to Fern Lake with a litter and equipment. The first 9 responders put in 10 miles round trip in difficult terrain, with downed trees blocking the trail, and including a nighttime stream crossing. Following an EMT patient assessment it was determined the patient would not be able to walk, and was evacuated by litter, arriving at Devil's Postpile at 11 PM. He signed a medical waiver to seek his own medical treatment. New Candidate Members were in the field for the first time on this long and difficult evacuation. Responders were: DeGeorge (IC & Ops), Corning (Ops), Dodson, Robertson, Tonseth, Buccowich, Brodbeck, Case, Greene, Barnum, Cowan, Vetter, Holt, Drake, Endo, Gilbreath, and Beck.

Daylight stream crossing
Daylight stream crossing
Daylight creek crossing
Daylight creek crossing

Moving wheeled liter up the trail in the dark
Moving wheeled liter up the trail in the dark

Trees across the trail
Trees across the trail
Night stream crossing
Night stream crossing

Re-grouping after crossing creek in the dark
Re-grouping after crossing creek in the dark
Crossing the creek in the dark
Crossing the creek in the dark

Fern Lake Rescue Route Map
Fern Lake Resue Route Profile

May 11-12, 2015. 15-282 #6 The Team was called out at 2130 to aid a hiker who was injured during a climb of Pyramid Peak in the Sherwin Range. About 4 PM, as he was descending a rocky area, his right foot slipped on the snow between two boulders, and the fall pinned his leg between the boulders. He was unable to extricate his leg for four hours. During this time he lost his jacket in high winds and his headlamp fell down a crack and was lost. As darkness fell, he was able to free his leg and called 911 due to being wet, cold and having no light source. Twelve Team members staged at the Mammoth Lakes SAR Facility and dispatched two field teams. They were able to access the area and hike to the subject's location. Following an EMT patient assessment it was determined he would be able to hike slowly down the mountainside with aid from the rescuers. Upon reaching the trailhead, an additional patient assessment was conducted. The subject signed a medical care release form, and was transported to his vehicle to seek his own treatment. Responders were: DeGeorge (Ops), Dodson, L. Hammack, Robertson, Greene, Guffey, Drake, Wenzlau, Brodbeck, T. Hammack, Hartstrom, and Corning.


Rescued backpacker and SAR member Rick Dodson

April 8, 2015. 15-203 #5 At approximately 10:00AM, the Sheriff's Office received a call regarding a stranded backpacker near Glass Creek. A male backpacker, age 43, from Ramona, CA, began a two week backpack trip. The backpacker started his trip at Dead Man Creek and was hiking to Yost Lake. On day four of the trip, while near Glass Creek, the backpacker twisted his ankle and camped at his location to recover. During this time, a storm moved into the Eastern Sierra and the area received 18" to 2 1/2 feet of fresh new snow over the dry landscape. The backpacker was unsuccessful in keeping his equipment dry. He became wet and cold with numb feet.

On Wednesday, April 8th, he called 911 via his cellphone and requested rescue/extrication. The Team was dispatched to rescue the stranded backpacker. SAR team members staged at June Mountain Ski Area. The ground teams accessed Glass Creek through the ski area and the trailhead at Hartley Springs. The teams were able to locate the stranded backpacker, conduct an EMT patient assessment, and assist in re-warming the backpacker's extremities. The backpacker was given snow shoes, and with the teams' assistance, was able to hike back to the trailhead. Once back at the rescue base, the backpacker signed a medical release to seek his own further medical treatment. He was given a ride to his family members in the Mammoth Lakes area. Responders were: Corning (Ops), Vetter, DeGeorge, Beck, Robertson, Caara Hunter, Jeff Hunter, Hartstrom, Soucy, Hammack, Cowan, Scotese, Dodson, and Webb.

Preparing to rescue stranded backpacker
Snowmobiles were utiliized to rescue stranded backpacker


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.

The victim of this accident writes this story about his experience.

Discussing situation with Navy Flight Crew that located subject
Discussing situation with Navy Flight Crew that located subject
Chinook Helicopter on the scene
Chinook Helicopter on the scene

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.


Ops 15-056 Crooked Creek

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.

Ops 15-056 Crooked Creek
Ops 15-056 Crooked Creek
Ops 15-056 Crooked Creek
Ops 15-056 Crooked Creek


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.


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
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 rescued via wheeled litter
Injured hiker on Rush Creek Trail rescued 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.