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.

January 14-15, 2018, 18-030, #2 At 2357 on Sunday January 14, the Mono County Sheriff's Search and Rescue (SAR) Team was called out for rescue of a 20 year old man from Hayward, CA, who was reported overdue from a climb of White Mountain Peak. He and the companion Reporting Party (RP) departed from Black Eagle Camp, but the RP turned back short of the summit, and later reported to 911 that the subject had communicated via cell phone that he had slipped and fallen 15 feet and was unable to hike down to his car. The Team responded with five rescuers, 3 rescue trucks, and a Polaris Ranger ATV. By the time the Polaris crew reached the subject's car, he had managed to hike down unassisted, though painfully. He was followed down to Base, where he refused medical assistance. Due to the remote location, Team vehicles logged a total of 550 miles. Responders were: Beck (Ops), Pelichowski (IC), Torrence, Case, Luke Hammack, and Wallace.

January 1, 2018, 18-003, #1 At 12:15 PM the Mono County Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue (SAR) Team was called out for rescue of an injured ice climber. A 64 year old Mono County man fell about 40 feet while climbing ice at Chouinard Falls in Lee Vining Canyon (37.94113, -119.22550). Five SAR team members hiked down from the green bridge on the Hwy 120 Tioga Pass road, while two more were lowered from CHP helicopter H40. The subject was placed in a litter and carried to a location where a helicopter hoist was done by CHP helicopter H40. He was transferred to Care Flight at Lee Vining airport, and flown to Reno for treatment. Responders were: Beck (Ops), Pelichowski (IC), Kaufman, Bush, Guffey, Greene, Creager, Thompson, Torrence, and Traxler.

Video by John Bush on Iphone6

Adapted from the Sierra Mountain Guides Ice Report - January 3, 2018

Accident at Chouinard Falls – Leader fall on Ice – by Viren Perumal

CHP H-40 coming in for the extrication of the injured Ice climber (1/1/2018 Tanya Godinez)
CHP H-40 coming in for the extrication of the injured Ice climber (1/1/2018 TanyaGodinez)
Ice climber placed in Bauman Bag brought by Mono County SAR team members that were inserted by H-40 preparing the victim for a hoist in challenging terrain. – (1/1/2018  Tanya Godinez)
Ice climber placed in Bauman Bag brought by Mono County SAR team members that were inserted by H-40 preparing the victim for a hoist in challenging terrain. – (1/1/2018 Tanya Godinez)

…I was guiding on 1/1/2018 and witnessed a lead climber taking a 40-50 foot fall impacting multiple ledges. He had placed 3 screws and his upper screw along with his belayer caught his fall. I was able to use the SMG Delorme In Reach Satelite communication device to initiate contact with Mono County Sheriffs Dispatch. I was able to inform them about location and information about the accident and terrain that would make a litter carry impractical. I was able to communicate directly with Cal OES (Office of Emergency Services) to relay information through Satellite Texting Capabilities. Ice climbers entering the canyon should be aware that even though we can see a state highway across from us – these areas are difficult to access and serious and relatively remote. The accident occurred at approximately 10:30 and the fall victim was extricated at around 3PM Given the length of winter days and the lengthy response time not having Satelite communication would have meant a night rescue mission or a night out for the patient. Please consider appropriate back country communication for your trips into the mountains. We are all thankful for the Volunteers of the SAR team and the crew of CHP H-40….

The patient is recovering from his injuries well at Renown Medical Center in Reno.

September 23, 2017, 17-467, #22 A 59 year old man from Chicago planned a two week trip starting at the Virginia Lakes trailhead to Tuolumne and back. While returning toward the end of his trip at Summit Lake, he encountered a snow storm. He had been hesitant to proceed on the final stretch of his trip because of the snow conditions as he was not equipped for them. But assurance from a Tuolumne ranger that the snow would quickly melt, he decided to finish his trip. He camped for two nights using an emergency blanket, tarp, and sleeping bag for shelter. His sleeping bag, clothing, and shoes quickly became wet from the snow. Luckily he had a Delorme Inreach with him, and his wife back in Chicago was monitoring his progress with concern. His wife contacted the Sheriff's Office to inquire about getting him rescued. A helicopter was used to extract him. CHP helicopter H40 was able to locate and extract him within two hours of request. He was flown to Bridgeport airport and transported back to his car at Virginia Lakes. Responders were: Casabian (IC), and Barnum (Ops).

September 2, 2017, 17-423 #21 63 year old female with fractured hip on PCT between Leavitt Lake and Ski Lake (38.274436, 119.609249). Helicopter H24 took to Renown Hospital. Responders were: Beck (Ops), Pelichowski (IC), Bush, Guffey, Buchanan, Haugh, Kaufman.

August 22, 2017, 17-none, #20 Overdue 45 year old female at Saddlebag Lake. False alarm. Responders were: Endo, Greene, Hartstrom, Beck, Wallace, Buchanan, Cucura.

August 4, 2017, 17-365, #19 The Team was called out at 1300 regarding an overdue day hiker. The subject was a 60 year old male that was a bit lost by Crystal Crag. He was a day hiker, not a climber. In addition to being lost, his back was giving him problems. Luckily he could still walk so all that was needed was to assist him back to the trailhead at Lake George. He was also low on water and had no food, so we gave him both. Responders were: Pelichowski (IC), Greene, Case, Wallace, Torrence, Cucura, and Kaufman.

August 1, 2017, 17-356, #18 In the Virginia Lakes area a 50 year old female fell and sustained ankle and knee injuries. She was extracted by Helicopter H24. Responders were: Casabian (IC), Greene, Wallace, Torrence, and Kallemeyn.

August 1, 2017, 17-355, #17 The team responded at 1505 for a 17 year old male with altitude sickness above Barney Lake, Twin Lakes Village. He was extracted by Helicopter H24. Responders were: Casabian (IC), Greene, Wallace, Torrence, Cowan and Kallemeyn.

July 30, 2017, 17-351, #16 The 60 year old male subject reported missing was last seen at 1130 in Lundy Canyon near the waterfall. The Team was called out beginning at 2230. The subject evidently went up the canyon from Lundy to Helen Lake in the 20 Lakes Basin, to Saddlebag Lake and down to the Tioga Pass road where it is speculated that he hitch-hiked down to Lee Vining, then along U.S. 395 to the Lundy Canyon road. A Team member located him walking up Lundy Canyon from 395. He had no serious injuries other than blisters. Responders were: Beck (Ops), Pelichowski (IC), Hartstrom, Woods, Wallace, Torrence, Endo, Cowan, and Creager.

July 30, 2017, 17-348, #15 A SPOT emergency beacon activation on the Muir Trail near Waugh Lake was reported to OES as possible altitude sickness for a 36 year old woman. The Team responded and sent in 3 field teams. CHP Helicopter H40 also responded and located the subject. H40 landed at June Mountain Parking lot, and boarded a SAR member, who was lowered to the subject for assessment and packaging for hoisting. Both were flown back to the June Mountain parking lot, then the subject was flown to Fresno for medical care. Responders were: Beck(Ops), Minder (IC), Wallace, Kaufman, Haugh, Cowan, C. Schilz, Webb, and Woods.

July 25, 2017, 17-328, #14 A Clark Canyon climber was reported injured in a fall. June Lake Fire and Medic 2 responded and requested SAR be called. When the Team arrived, the subject was being evacuated and transported by Medic 2. Responders were: Hansen (IC), Greene, Goodwin, Kaufman, Bush, Wallace, Leyen, C. Schilz, B. Schilz, and Cowan.

July 24, 2017, 17-326, #13 A 48 year old hiker from Clayton, California injured a knee on the Parker Pass trail, about 6.4 miles in and south of the pass summit (37-49.75, -119-11.661). The Team hiked in from the Mono Pass trailhead at the Yosemite Park entrance. Helicopter 551 also responded, and was able to extract the subject prior to the arrival of the ground teams. Responders were: Beck (Ops), Hansen (IC), Hartstrom, Bush, Kaufman, Torrence, C. Schilz, B. Schilz, Buchanan, Wallace, Webb, Greene, Thompson, Webb, Draper, Cowan, Lyon, and French.

July 23, 2017, 17-324, #12 Hikers in the area reported Crystal Crag climbers needing help. Responders were unable to locate anyone needing help. False Alarm. Responders were: Barnum (Ops), Hansen (IC), Case, Endo, Buchanan, French, Bush, Traxler, Wallace, Webb, Thompson, Torrence, Cowan, Kallemeyn, Goodwin, and Draper.

July 6, 2017, 17-288, #11 The Team was called out to respond to Ellery Lake for rescue of a subject who was injured while skiing down Ellery Bowl. When the Team arrived, the subject had been evacuated by companions, and was enroute to Mammoth Hospital via POV. Responders were: Pelichowski (IC), Beck (Ops), Wallace, Kaufman, Greene, and Endo.

Reported in The Sheet newspaper - July 15, 2017 - By Rea


Close calls and injuries for backcountry skiers are reminders of danger

Three backcountry skiers from Mammoth planned on taking a quick jaunt up Ellery Bowl on Thursday, July 6, but ended up helping save the life of a San Francisco man who took a massive fall down the steep slope.

Dave Arnold, 28, was the second skier in as many weeks to be injured skiing in the tempting backcountry bowl on Tioga Pass, just outside the eastern entrance to Yosemite National Park.

Arnold was skiing by himself when he took what looked from the vantage point of the three Mammoth residents -Josh Wray, Mark Williams, and Branko Kral- to be a catastrophic fall.

"We didn't even know he was there until we got almost to the top and saw him for the first time," said Wray this week. The trio were about 60 yards from the summit lip of Ellery Bowl when they spotted Arnold from a distance.

"If we were on the summit we would not have seen him, and probably [would have] gone right around him," said Wray. Arnold told The Sheet on Wednesday that he'd intended to ski a route down Mount Dana but decided against the descent he'd originally planned on and ended up scrambling across a boulder field towards the summit of Ellery Bowl instead.

He was exhausted, he was alone, and he'd been terrified of the route he'd taken. He even recorded a GoPro video for his parents, telling them in the event that he didn't make it off the mountain, that he'd died doing something he loved. "It was the scariest thing I've ever done," said Arnold of the traverse toward Ellery Bowl across the loose rocks. Likely scarier was the fall that nearly killed him, but lucky for him, Arnold doesn't remember that part.

Wray said he'd pulled out his camera to record Arnold's ski descent of Ellery Bowl, and that he and his companions were cheering Arnold on. Suddenly, Wray said, the lone skier (whom they had never met before) caught an edge, "and his skis popped off, his poles were gone, and he was trying to self-arrest."

"We were like, 'This guy is not stopping.'" The three men watched as Arnold careened down the slope. "He went out of our sight and all I heard was him bouncing off rocks, crunch crunch, and then he emptied out at the bowl below." Wray said that they saw Arnold lying face down, unmoving, surrounded by snow and blood.

"And we were like, 'This guy's either dead or paralyzed. There's no way he's alive." After several tense moments, they saw Arnold move.

"So we all aborted the mission [to get to the top of Ellery Bowl] and scrambled down the rocks and skied to him," said Williams.

Mike Mitchell and Bronco Kral assist injured skier David Arnold - Josh Wray Photo
Mike Mitchell and Bronco Kral assist injured skier David Arnold
Josh Wray Photo

"I got to him first," said Wray, "and he was just sitting there, holding his head. There was blood on the ground, and his helmet was 50 yards away." Arnold's helmet was crushed from both sides. "His googles survived," noted Kral.

Everything else was gone, and is still missing- skis, poles, GoPro, car keys, phone. Kral had first aid training and checked Arnold for broken bones. Williams made the decision to ski down to his wife, who was paddle boarding on Ellery Lake, and drive to Lee Vining to make a call to Mono County Search and Rescue.

Wray and Kral stayed with Arnold, who was miraculously mostly unharmed, save a severe concussion.

"We made conscious decisions as a team," said Kral. The men got Arnold out of his wet clothes and traded them out for dry ones of their own. The men got him out of his ski boots as he began to come around after the shock of his fall and concussion. "I think it was probably mostly adrenaline" that allowed Arnold to walk the rest of the way down to Ellery Lake with Wray and Kral's assistance, he said.

Wray said the incident made him think more about what he'll keep in his backcountry pack in the future- "Gloves, for instance," said Wray, laughing. "They only weigh two ounces." Though gloves seem like a no-brainer, the trio were only headed out for an adventure that should have taken a couple hours at most.

"You underestimate things because it's sunny and warm," said Kral of the current skiing conditions, noting that the "sun cups" which have formed on snowy slopes can be treacherous, and were possibly the cause of Arnold's fall.

Arnold also cited his exhaustion as a potential factor in his accident. He'd ascended 3,500 vertical feet and probably traveled 8 miles in the process of ascending Mount Dana. He had food and gear to spend the night in the mountains if he'd needed to, but said he was ready to get down the mountain and back to his car. He said if he hadn't seen Wray, Kral and Williams he might not have attempted the descent, but "who knows what might have happened" had the three men not been in the right place at the right time.

Skier David Arnold holds up what's left of his helmet after a fall down Ellery Bowl - Brank Kral photo
Skier David Arnold holds up what's left of his helmet after a fall down Ellery Bowl - Brank Kral photo

The injured skier, with the help of his new companions, made it to the road at about 9 p.m. Mono County Search and Rescue [ops17-288] had just arrived on scene, but Kral ended up taking Arnold to the hospital himself. He even gave Arnold a room to stay in that night.

Arnold wasn't a beginner - he's been on many backcountry adventures in the Sierra, and grew up skiing on the East Coast. He was a member of the race team at June Mountain.

He said he usually skis with friends, but was waiting for some companions to join him on the Eastside last week before hiking Mt. Whitney together, and decided to go on a solo adventure.

"All I can say is thank God for helmets," said Arnold, who was back in San Francisco this week, where he works in software sales. "If [Wray, Kral and Williams] weren't there, who knows what would have happened."

Another local man was injured on June 28 in the same location [ops17-261]. Jordyn Murphy, 24, of Mammoth Lakes, told The Sheet on Thursday, July 13 that he doesn't remember much about his accident - he had just arrived home from two weeks of rehabilitation in Reno and Bakersfield hospitals.

On June 28, Murphy was backcountry snowboarding with friends down Ellery Bowl, and he was not wearing a helmet when he took the fall that sent him to the hospital. He did not know how he fell, or exactly what happened in the aftermath, other than that he was airlifted from the slope by a Mono County Search and Rescue helicopter. Murphy has a GoFundMe account set up to help with his medical bills at

Arnold, likely thanks to his helmet, only incurred an emergency room visit and not weeks of rehabilitative therapy.

Murphy echoed Arnold's sentiments. "Definitely travel with a buddy," Murphy said. "And I know I might not have had it, but safety equipment, safety equipment, safety equipment. I'm glad to be able to be here to tell the story."

July 5, 2017, 17-283, #10 The Team was called out at 1800 to locate and aid two hikers unprepared to spend the night in the vicinity of Arrowhead Lake (37.5779, -118.9828) who were stranded in steep terrain, and unable to find the trail in snow. The subjects were located at 2021, in good condition though cold. The Team extinguished the campfire they had made to keep warm, and escorted them out to the Coldwater trailhead at 2123. Responders were: Casabian (IC), Beck (Ops), Greene, Wallace, Bush, Kaufman, Torrence, Beechan, French, Case, Gilbreath, Cucura, C. Schilz, Frolio, Cowan, and TeSlaa.

July 1, 2017, 17-270, #9 At 1900, the Team was called out to the Rush Creek trail to find and aid a 57 year old who had difficulties knowing where to go. The Team carried up the litter, wheel, oxygen, and medical supplies, reaching the subject on the switchbacks above Agnew Lake (37.7537, -119.1408). The subject was able to walk with Team members escorting. The trailhead at Silver Lake was reached at midnight. Responders were: Pelichowski (IC), Beck (Ops), Endo, Cucura, Guffey, French, Buchanan, Wallace, Torrence, Hartstrom, and Case.

June 28, 2017, 17-263, #8 At 2126, the Team was called out the second time that day for rescue of a 28 year old from Illinois, who had an injured and deformed ankle above Crystal Lake (37.59363, -119.01547). It was dark, with deep snow, difficult terrain, mostly cross-country travel with the litter, wheel, and the subject. The subject was extracted via multiple belayed lowerings and roped raises. The Team members reached the trailhead at Lake George with the subject at 0430. Responders were: Hansen (IC), Barnum (Ops), Beck, Greene, Bucklin, Wallace, Endo, Kaufman, Torrence, Glenn, Hartstrom, French, and Cucura.

Ops 17-261 Care Flight helicopter
Ops 17-261 Care Flight helicopter

June 28, 2017, 17-261, #7 At 1335 the Team was called out for rescue of a 24 year old snowboarder from the Lake Tahoe area who sustained serious injuries near the top of Ellery Bowl (37.92594, -119.22668).

The Team climbed up to the location at 10,000 feet, and packaged the subject for transport by CHP helicopter H40.

He was transferred to Care Flight, and flown to Renown Medical Center in Reno. Responders were: Hansen (IC), Beck (Ops), Greene, Hartstrom, L. Hammack, Kaufman, Wallace, Bucklin, Holt, French, Glenn, Endo, Torance, and Cucura.

Ops 17-261 Care Flight helicopter
Ops 17-261 Care Flight helicopter

April 22, 2017, 17-144, #6 On April 22, 2017 at 1724 MCSO dispatch received a 911 call for a report of a 30 year old stranded kayaker from San Francisco on Paoha Island in Mono Lake. He had no cell service but was able to call 911. He reported due to wind he was unable to paddle back to Navy Beach where his vehicle was parked. Deputy Pelichowski and SAR member Luke Hammack launched a Sheriff Patrol boat from the Tioga Lodge area and responded to the south end of the island. The subject was located on the shoreline near his deflated kayak. He had left Navy beach around noon, not realizing how far the islands were from the shore. Approximately half way to the island, the wind picked up and pushed him all the way to the south end of Paoha Island. He attempted several times to paddle back but each time was unable. The subject and his gear were loaded into the patrol boat where a quick medical assessment revealed his only complaint was feeling cold due to being soaking wet and not having shoes. He said that due to the wind and waves, he began to take on water in his inflatable kayak. He was transported back to the Tioga Lodge area and provided a ride to his vehicle at Navy Beach. Responders were: Pelichowski (IC), and Luke Hammack.

The missing Socata TB20 Trinidad airplane
The missing Socata TB20 Trinidad airplane

April 21-22, 2017. 2017-LAW-35273 #5 A team of two SAR members responded with snowmobiles and an ELT receiver to Sierra County to assist in a large mutual aid search for an overdue aircraft. The aircraft was reported overdue on 4/17 on a flight from Truckee to Petaluma. The four-seat Socata TB20 Trinidad was scheduled to land at the Petaluma Municipal Airport, but it never landed.

The team arrived at the Command Post on highway 89 approximately 15 miles north of Truckee. On the first day they were assigned to search a valley approximately ten miles west of the CP, and an area approximately five miles north of the valley. On day two they were given an assignment to clear a creek area near the LKP, a second area with open, wooded terrain north of Lake of the Woods, and then a third assignment in an area four miles to the west (that they determined unsearchable by snowmobiles due to dense/downed trees and open creeks).

During the two days of searching they made approximately 40 ELT scans with no results. As they were leaving to return home, the Operations Leader asked that they accompany two snowmobilers to a possible crash location. They unloaded the snowmobiles and followed the two out to the possible crash site. Upon arrival at the site they determined that no wreckage was present, and returned to the CP.

They drove the Team snowmobiles approximately 140 miles during the search - much of it at very slow speeds. The search was suspended Sunday night after six days of searching by teams (ground/snowmobiles/snowcats) from California and Nevada, along with numerous helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft. Responders were: Beck and Greene.

UPDATE: The deceased occupants were found in their crashed plane on May 16, 2017. The Press Democrat news article.

Ops 17-55 - Seahawk Helicopter extracted the 4 skiers - Megan Guffey Photo
Ops 17-55 - Seahawk Helicopter extracted the 4 skiers - Megan Guffey Photo

February 12, 2017, 17-55, #4 In late afternoon, a party of 4 from the Lake Tahoe area were backcountry skiing down the V chute of the Dana Plateau below the Third Pillar when a 44 year old woman's binding released, causing her to tumble down the slope with one ski remaining on.

Her right knee sustained injury. Her friends called 911 for help. CHP helicopter H40 from Fresno responded, but due to blowing snow and darkness was unable to land.

While ground teams were skiing and snowshoeing up to the location at 10,000 feet elevation (37.92394, -119.20787), a Seahawk helicopter from Lemoore Naval Air Station was able to land and extract the 4 skiers.

The injured skier was transported by Mono County paramedics to Mammoth Hospital for treatment. SAR Team responders were: Barnum (Ops), Greene, Beck, Carole Schilz, Leyen, Traxler, Endo, Guffey, French, D. Hansen and Cucura.

January 27, 2017, 17-30, #3 Mono County Paramedics and June Lake Fire requested assistance from the Team to transport an injured woman who sustained injuries during a snowmobile collision on the trail 1.7 miles southwest of Big Spring campground (37.73239, -118.95809). The Team responded with snowmobiles and patient toboggan. The victim on a backboard was placed in the toboggan, and towed by snowmobile to base, then transported by paramedics for medical treatment. Responders were: Greene, Luke Hammack, Jon Hall, and Maxwell.

January 10, 2017, 17-12, #2 A 27 year old man from San Bernardino County requested assistance to get back to Mammoth after his car became disabled after driving it through a deep puddle (37.6904, -118.782317) while he was trying to get to one of the hot tubs in the area. The Team responded with two snowmobiles, and transported him to the intersection of Benton Crossing Road and Owens River Road. A Deputy Sheriff transported him from there to Mammoth Lakes to a motel. Responders were: Barnum (Ops), Greene, and Traxler.

January 6, 2017, #1 A group of six got vehicles stuck in snow on Antelope Springs Road about 3 miles from Hwy 395 (37.67331, -118.90307), and requested assistance. The Team responded to the SAR building to get snowmobiles, but were not needed since the group was able to get themselves unstuck without assistance. Responders were: Pelichowski (Ops and IC), and Luke Hammack.

December 17, 2016, 16-660, #35 A 27 year old snowboarder from Redlands, CA was reported overdue on Mammoth Mountain. His ticket was last scanned on chair 12. A location from a cell phone ping showed him near Reds Lake. He was found safe by his girlfriend in the Village. Responders were: Barnum (Ops), Denton, Cucura, and Hartstrom.

October 15-18, 2016, 16-572, #34 A party of five men from Tehachapi went out in high winds in a small boat on June Lake. The boat filled with water and sank. Two were able to swim to shore. The Team responded along with several other agencies, and searched the lake and shore. The boat and 3 deceased subjects were found mid-day on Tuesday October 18. Responders were: Vetter, Luke Hammack, Guffey, and Taj Hammack.

Sheriff Office Press Release

Inca, a specially trained dog, assisted with the search - Lyon County Search & Rescue
Inca, a specially trained dog, assisted with the search - Lyon County Search & Rescue

On the morning of Saturday, October 15, 2016, five men took their personal boat out on June Lake. Winds were blowing strong from the west, and the water was very choppy. Sometime near 10:00 a.m. the boat began taking on water, and the boat capsized and sank. None of the boaters were wearing life jackets. Two of the men made it to shore, but the other three could not be found. First responders searched both on the water and from the shore until daylight was lost. The two surviving men were medically treated and released. The recovery effort continued at daybreak on Sunday morning, with searchers again on the water and the shore. The search ensued as long as weather and daylight permitted through Sunday, Monday and into Tuesday morning. Family members gathered in June Lake and awaited news of their loved ones. At approximately 11:30 a.m. Tuesday morning, the boat and all three bodies were located near the middle of June Lake. Divers successfully recovered all of them, and the family was notified of their recovery.

San Bernardino County Sheriff Emergency Operations Dive Rescue
San Bernardino County Sheriff Emergency Operations Dive Rescue

All of the men are from Tehachapi and are related to one another. The surviving men are Caleb Crouch, age 22; and John Langston, also age 22. The deceased are Doug Langston, age 46; Caleb Johnson, age 21; and Jacob Langston, age 14.

We especially want to acknowledge the agencies who assisted: San Bernardino County Sheriff Emergency Operations Dive Rescue, Mono County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue, Lyon County Search and Rescue, Mary Cablk and Inca, June Lake Fire Department, Lee Vining Fire Department, Mammoth Lakes Fire Department, Mono County Paramedics, US Forest Service and Sierra Lifeflight. Also many thanks to the local businesses who supported our efforts and cared for the families: Boulder Lodge, June Lake Marina, Double Eagle Resort, Hideaway Condominiums, Fern Creek Lodge, Stellar Brew, Trouttown Joe’s, Looney Bean Coffee in Bishop, O’Hana’s 395, Big Rock Resort, June Lake Ski Area. We apologize for anyone we may have overlooked. The community of June Lake and all of Mono County truly wrapped their arms around the families and the first responders and took great care of us during this tragedy. The families expressed repeatedly how loved and cared for they felt.

Mono County Sheriff Command Center
Mono County Sheriff Command Center

September 30, 2016. Mutual Aid to Yosemite, #33 Since September 26, Yosemite SAR has been searching for a missing 74-year-old man whose vehicle was found at the White Wolf Campground. Mutual aid was requested. The search has been suspended. Responder: Vetter.

September 24, 2016, 16-528, #32 A party of two from Southern California were climbing Dana Couloir when rock fall occurred. A rock hit the female climber on her right forearm, causing a possible fracture. She then slid down the couloir injuring her right ankle. The male was hit by another rock on the head, knocking him out for approximately 5 minutes, and splitting his climbing helmet. The climbers were able to descend the couloir and hiked to Dana Lake where they activated their satellite communicator (DeLorme Inreach). CHP helicopter H20 extracted both climbers from Dana Lake to Lee Vining airport where Mono County paramedics transported them to Mammoth Hospital. Responders were: Barnum (Ops), Casabian (IC), Maxwell, Endo, Brodbeck, Shelby Pracht, Cucura, Drake, Guffey, Greene, Hartstrom, and DeGeorge.

September 20, 2016, 16-518, #31 A packer hired to take a party of hunters into the Eagle Creek drainage above Buckeye Canyon became suddenly very ill. The party called 911 and the SAR Team responded with the Polaris Ranger and Rescue 3. Care Flight 3 from Minden was able to land nearby, and was able to extract the subject for medical care. Responders were: Luke Hammack (Ops), Pelichowski (IC), Greene, DeGeorge, Cucura, and Robertson.

September 9, 2016, 16-491, #30 A hiker called 911 about 3 PM because he had been separated from his party and was lost near Gem Lake. He and 4 other friends were in June Lake visiting from Bakersfield. At about 0800, he and his friends decided to hike to Gem Lake to fish. The subject stated he was not an experienced hiker, nor was he experienced with the terrain. He also stated he was stuck on a steep ledge and could not move. The SAR Team responded to the June Mountain parking lot in anticipation of CHP helicopter H20 landing there and providing transport of rescuers to Gem Lake Subsequent text messaging with the subject about 7:30 PM revealed that he had figured out how to get off the ledge, had found the trail, and was no longer in need of rescue. Responders were: Greene (Ops), Casabian (IC), Endo, Case, Gilbreath, Drake, Shelby Pracht, and Hartstrom.

September 8, 2016, 16-490, #29 At 11:30 the subjects told a camper at the trailhead for Walker Lake (Bloody Canyon) that they were going for a 4 to 5 hour hike. Around sunset the camper had not seen the subjects return to their car, and called 911. The SAR team arrived at 2200 and field teams conducted a hasty search then searched the trailhead down to the lake, a use trail to a cross country route, the ridge to the east, and up the Bloody Canyon trail toward Mono Pass. After receiving information that the subjects were experienced mountaineers, the search was suspended at 0200. Responders were: Luke Hammack (Ops), Pelichowski (IC), Ackerman - with K9 Takoda, Endo, Vianzon, Brodbeck, Robertson, Greene, and DeGeorge

September 8, 2016, 16-489, #28 A 51 year old woman from New Hampshire fell while backpacking approximately 1 mile south of Donohue pass, injuring her left ankle and right knee. She was unable to walk out due to her injuries. The RP, an unrelated backpacker who came upon injured party, continued hiking after calling for help using a cell phone. The SAR Team responded to Minaret Vista and requested CHP Helicopter H40 for extraction. The subject was picked up by H40 and flown to the Minaret Vista helispot. She was transported by County Paramedics to Mammoth Hospital for treatment. Responder: Greene.

August 21-22, 2016, 16-455, #27 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 a pool above the Lower Rainbow Falls (located in Madera County). It was reported that the male was floating face down in the water. Extremely cold water temperatures and underwater current prevented witnesses from reaching the victim. A second victim was sitting at the bottom of a steep incline near the pool. The second victim had attempted to rescue the first victim, but was suffering from hypothermia as a result of being in the water which was estimated to be 45 degrees. Mono County Sheriff Deputies, Mono County Sheriff Search and Rescue Team, Mono County Paramedics, and Mammoth Lakes Fire Department responded and were able to rescue the second victim. Efforts to rescue the first victim were unsuccessful as the victim was 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 SAR team 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 Team, Mammoth Lakes Fire Department. The Mammoth Mountain Ski Area provided personnel and logistical support for the recovery effort. Responders were: Barnum (Ops), Casabian (IC), Thompson, Drake, Vianzon, Greene, Kaukola, Case, Viren Perumal, Wenzlau, and Traxler.

Ops 16-455 Rainbow Falls
Ops 16-455 Rainbow Falls

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.

Ops 16-426 near Cascade Lake

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 near Cascade Lake
Ops 16-426 near Cascade Lake
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 ©
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 ©

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).

Older Operations will be found in the yearly Highlights pages.