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.


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

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

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

Movie Loading ...

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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


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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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


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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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


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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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


Ops 14-441
Ops 14-441

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

One of her companions walked out to get help.

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

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

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

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


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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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


September 30-October 1, 2013. 13-936, #38 On the evening of September 30 the Sheriff's Office received a call reporting a possible aircraft crash near Mono Village. Campers there reported seeing an object trailing three plumes of smoke fly overhead at high speed and then drop quickly. They did not hear any engine noise, but reported hearing a boom which at first they thought was a car door slamming. A bit later they saw intermittent plumes of what appeared to be white smoke rising from the Matterhorn peak area and reported the sighting to the Mono Village staff, who called the Sheriff's Office. A SAR member was dispatched with an ELT receiver which can home on an aircraft's emergency beacon, but no signal was detected. An officer was dispatched with an infra-red heat detection device but the results were inconclusive. On October 1, three SAR teams were sent into the field with ELT receivers to look for signals from various locations, including Tuolumne Meadows. CHP helicopter H20 did an extensive air search of the area with no findings. Since no aircraft have been reported missing or overdue the search has been suspended. It is speculated that the objects seen may have been meteor fragments or space debris, and the plumes of smoke could have been steam generated from these objects hitting the glaciers or snow fields in the area. Responders were: Corning (Ops), Beck, Holmquist, Dodson, Guffey, and Hall.


September 7-8, 2013. MLPD, #37 The team was called out just before midnight to assist Mammoth Lakes Police Department in searching for a missing three year old. The three year old had been dropped off by the mother at a babysitter. The babysitter went upstairs for a minute and when she came downstairs the child was gone. The team and MLFD personnel searched for the child in the area around town. Low confidence pings from the mother's cell phone put her in the Sherwin Creek area, and team members began searching trailheads off of Sherwin Creek Road as there was a possibility that the mother had come and picked up the child without telling the babysitter. Pings of the father's cell phone showed he was camping in the Twin Lakes area. MLPD located the campsite, and found the child there with her mother. Responders were: Greene (Ops), Thompson, Holmquist, Case, C. Schilz, G. Goryl, A. Goryl, and Barnum.


September 5-6, 2013. 13-837, #36 On September 5, Sheriff Dispatch received a satellite phone call from a physician saying that he had encountered a 62 year old man with symptoms of AMS near the junction of the JMT and Rush Creek trails. The Team was activated at 4:45 PM. A hasty medical team started in from Silver Lake, followed by two other teams with litter and extra oxygen. The doctor on scene called again to say the subject was losing consciousness. Just before dark, the crew of CHP helicopter H20 was able to land about a mile from the subject and hiked to his location. A Seahawk helicopter from Fallon NAS responded to the area, but was unable to communicate by radio or cell phone. They reported via their base command that they did not have enough lift above the subject to do a hoist. They saw H20 on the ground and assumed it was Careflight, and returned to base. The H20 crew, with the assistance of other hikers and the subject's son carried him to the helicopter. He was flown to Mammoth airport where Mono County paramedics transported him by ambulance to Mammoth Hospital. He was transferred to Renown Hospital in Reno two hours later. Responders were: Corning (Ops), DeGeorge (IC), Vetter, Holmquist, Schmidt, Gilbreath, Buccowich, G. Goryl, Dodson, Barnum, French, A. Goryl, Endo, Guffey, and Greene.


September 1, 2013. 13-820, #35 A 60 year old hiker from Heber City, Utah sustained a very painful ankle injury near the Marie Lakes and was unable to walk. A nearby trail crew reported the situation. SAR ground teams were started from Silver Lake, and California Highway Patrol helicopter H40 from Fresno was requested. The helicopter was able to land in the general area, and the trail crew carried the hiker to the helicopter. The patient was flown to Mammoth airport, then taken to Mammoth Hospital by Mono County paramedics. Mammoth Lakes Fire also provided support by watering the Minaret Vista LZ. Responders were: Holmquist (Ops), DeGeorge (IC), Glenn Goryl, Endo, Case, Vetter, Greene, and Gilbreath.


August 29-30, 2013. 13-813, #34 A 59-year old Berkeley, California hiker wandered slightly off route while hiking up the poorly-defined trail from Lundy Canyon to Helen Lake in the Saddlebag Lake area. She fell while scrambling, injuring her leg. She continued scrambling to a relatively flat area on a ridge above Helen Lake and activated her personal locator beacon.

The SAR team and a Seahawk helicopter and crew from Fallon Naval Air Station were activated. Ground teams were sent into the area to locate the patient, and staff from Saddlebag Lake resort also searched independently. The Navy crew saw the patient signaling with a flashlight, lowered a crew member, and then hoisted both for return to base at Lee Vining Airport. The hiker was treated at Mammoth Hospital. Responders were: DeGeorge (IC), Holmquist (Ops), Greene, Schmidt, Gilbreath, Beck, and Barnum.


August 23, 2013, 13-778. #33 At 0755, the duty officer from California Office of Emergency Services (CALOES) contacted the Sheriff's Department reporting an emergency personal locator beacon activation. The beacon had been activated at 0335 and sent a distress signal 12 times to AFRCC. The location was the Lobdell Lake area. The owner of the beacon is a 44 YOM from Lodi, CA. Contact was made with the subject's wife who confirmed he was on a deer hunting trip. She did not believe it was an emergency as the two had been communicating by satellite text through the device just the prior evening. California Highway Patrol helicopter H20 was requested from Auburn Air Ops. Sheriff officers drove into the Lobdell Lake area and located the subject at 1055. He was not injured and in no need of help or in distress. A check of his Delorme PLB (in his backpack) showed the safety switch lock was disengaged and that it was an accidental activation. The CHP helicopter response was canceled. Responders were: Sgt. Minder (IC), and DeGeorge (Ops).


August 21-22, 2013. 13-772, #32 Mutual Aid to Inyo County. A Bishop resident failed to return from a solo hike in the East Fork of Rock Creek on August 20. Ground teams searched that night and the next two days, with helicopter support. The victim was found deceased on August 22 in a chute near 13,000 feet on the high ridge northeast of the Tamarack Lakes. The remains were recovered the next day. Mono County responders were: Holmquist, Beck, Scotese, Dodson, Guffey, G. Goryl, Gilbreath, and DeGeorge.


August 19-20, 2013. 13-762, #31 On the morning of August 19, the Sheriff's Office received a call from a group of hikers who had been camped at the southwest end of Thousand Island Lake. They reported having heard shouts of "help" coming from the North Glacier Pass area the previous night. All eight in their party were sure that someone was calling for help about every 30 seconds, and that this continued for about 40 minutes until nightfall. The group had encountered a couple hiking up North Glacier Pass as they descended after attempting Mt. Davis. The couple indicated they were planning to camp at Lake Catherine. The remorting party (RP) group speculated that the calls were coming from one of the two, but did not investigate due to fatigue, wet rock and darkness.

Two Mono SAR teams were sent in, one on the River trail, and one on the Shadow Creek trail to interview hikers coming out of the Thousand Island Lake area, and to search the North Glacier Pass area. CHP helicopter H40 did extensive air searching of the North Glacier Pass and Lake Catherine areas. Team 1 spent the night at Garnet Lake in a rainstorm, and continued to the top of North Glacier Pass on August 20. No clues or victims were found, and there have been no new missing person reports for that area. Responders were: Corning (Ops), DeGeorge (IC), Holmquist, G. Goryl, Gilbreath, Dodson, Guffey, Maroti, Barnum, Hall, Greene, Beck, A. Goryl, and Vetter.


Marie Lakes ops13-754 August 18-19, 2013

August 18-19, 2013. 13-754, #30 A 51-year old Reno man fell while scrambling over rocky terrain near the Marie Lakes, south of Yosemite and west of June Lake. The fall resulted in a groin injury and external bleeding. His friend hiked to locate persons with cell phones who were able to alert the Mono County Sheriffs Office, and the SAR team was activated. Three SAR team members, carrying medical supplies and a wheeled litter, began hiking to the patient's location at 5 AM on the 18th.

Blackhawk helicopter from Army Air National Guard

A Blackhawk helicopter and crew from Mather National Guard were requested. Mammoth Fire provided a water tender to wet down the landing zone at Minaret Vista. At 10 AM the Blackhawk, with two SAR team members on board, was dispatched to the Marie Lakes to attempt to locate, assess, and transport the patient. Two additional SAR field teams were launched to help the first SAR ground team with their heavy equipment. One team was inserted by the Blackhawk, and a second began hiking in from June Lake. The extrication was successful, and the patient was transferred at Minaret Vista to Mono County paramedics for further transport. CHP Helicopter H-40 became available and was able to retrieve the heavily-laden SAR team and their gear, while the other two SAR teams hiked out to the trailhead. Responders were: DeGeorge (IC), Holmquist (Ops), Greene, G Goryl, Beck, Wirken, A Goryl, Guffey, Endo, French, Hartstrom, Schmidt, Robertson, Dodson, Barnum, Hall, Mahoney, Vetter, and Corning.


Ops 13-752 Clyde Minaret - August 17-18, 2013
The Blackhawk is calling us

Ops 13-752 Clyde Minaret - August 17-18, 2013
Lisa and Marie in stylish NOMEX

August 17-18, 2013 13-752, #29 On Saturday two climbers from the Bay area were ascending Clyde Minaret. About 200 feet above the climb base, while placing protection into the rock, the leader took a fall of 30 feet or more. He impacted the rock with his knee and left arm sustaining what he believed to be a fracture above the wrist. He was in a great deal of pain and unable to continue the climb. He was lowered back to the belay point by the reporting party (RP) who then called 911.

Ops 13-752 Clyde Minaret - August 17-18, 2013

Fifteen Team members responded to Minaret Vista.

Madera County was contacted and confirmed mutual aid protocols requesting ground and air support for the rescue.

CalOES was contacted (OES # 2013-LAW-0180) and obtained air support from the Army Air National Guard unit at Mather AFB.

A Blackhawk helicopter responded but was unable to hoist the victim and RP off of the climbing route due to the proximity of steep terrain.

The helicopter then transported a medical climbing team to the area. The team was able to climb the route to the injured subject.

Following a medical assessment and splinting, the victim and RP were lowered to the base of the route.

One Team member group stayed overnight at Cecile Lake while the rest hiked out.

The next morning, the helicopter returned and transported them to Minaret Vista where Mono County paramedics took the victim to Mammoth Hospital for further treatment.

Responders were: Greene (Ops), DeGeorge (IC), Holmquist, Endo, Robertson, A. Goryl, G. Goryl, Porges, French, Dodson, Maroti, Gilbreath, Beck, and Guffey.


August 8, 2013. 13-713, #28 A group from the Los Angeles area went for a day hike to Emerald Lake. A 60 year old female suffered a possible broken ankle, so the group called the Mono County Sheriffs Department for help. The SAR Team, along with personnel from the Mammoth Lakes Fire Department, responded to her location. She was transported to the trailhead with a wheeled litter. Members of her group transported her to Mammoth Hospital for further treatment. Responders were: Greene (Ops), Holmquist, French, G. Goryl, A. Goryl.


August 3, 2013 13-695, #27 On Saturday, August 3, 2013, a family of four from Cathedral City went on a day hike to Rainbow Falls west of Mammoth Lakes. While returning from Rainbow Falls they took a wrong trail and ended up a couple of miles south of the trailhead and without water. An 18 year old daughter became dehydrated so the family called for help. The SAR team responded, along with personnel from Devils Postpile National Monument. The family was met by rescue personnel a short distance from the Rainbow Falls trailhead. She was provided with fluids and did not require further medical treatment. Responders were: Greene (Ops), Dodson, Guffey, A. Goryl, Robertson, Holmquist, Schmidt, G. Goryl, Mahoney, and Barnum.


July 30, 2013. 13-685, #26 A 48 year old woman sustained a cut ankle. Devils Postpile was notified by the SAR ops leader, and they sent personnel to him. He walked out with them. Responder: Greene (Ops).


July 29, 2013. 13-668, #25 The Team was called out for a hiker experiencing chest pains near Summit Lake, about 4 miles from the Virginia Lakes trailhead. The 61 year old backpacker began experiencing chest pains around midnight and pressed the 911 emergency button on his SPOT device in the morning. The SAR team, along with personnel from Yosemite Search and Rescue, hiked into the area with emergency medical equipment. The Yosemite National Park helicopter was requested for a medical extraction. The Team and helicopter reached the backpacker, evaluated his medical condition, and then flew him to the Mammoth Lakes airport where he was taken by paramedics to Mammoth Hospital for treatment. Responders were: Greene (Ops), Holmquist, Barnum, Dodson, Beck, Endo, Leyen, and G. Goryl.


July 28, 2013. 13-663, #24 A 67 year-old fisherman from the Los Angeles area became separated from his family at Skelton Lake and was reported overdue. He was located on the opposite side of the lake while the SAR team was en route. Responders were: Holmquist (Ops), Dodson, G. Goryl, C. Schilz, and B. Schilz.


July 27, 2013. No case number, #23 A hiker was reported overdue on a hike from Agnew Meadows to Garnet Lake. The subject showed up 6 minutes after the ops leader was notified at 2148. Responder: Greene (Ops).


July 20-21, 2013. 13-636, #22 A father (52) and son (22) from Clovis, California were backpacking from Lake Edison to Tuolumne Meadows when the father became ill and activated their SPOT emergency notification device during the night of July 20. The Team responded and hiked through the night toward the location indicated by the SPOT on the John Muir Trail near Rush Creek. They interviewed other hikers who had helped the ill man cope with dehydration and nausea. Helicopter 551 from Yosemite National Park was able to land near the subject, evaluated him medically, and evacuated him to Crane Flat in the Park. The son hiked out to Tuolumne Meadows. Responders were: Vetter (Ops), Endo, G. Goryl, Dodson, Corning, and DeGeorge.


July 15, 2013. 13-???, #21 The Team responded in aid of the Mammoth Lakes Police Department in searching for a missing boy with Down Syndrome. The subject was located while Team members were enroute. Responders were: Corning, Greene, Guffey, Dodson, Porges, Robertson,French and Vetter.


Assisting ill hikers
Assisting ill hikers

July 15, 2013. 13-612, #20 The SAR team responded to assist White Mountain Fire with an ill hiker on the Spark Plug Mine trail below White Mountain Peak. A twelve year old girl was reported as suffering from mountain sickness by the adult (52) in her hiking party from Beverly Hills. White Mountain Fire had dispatched an EMT to the scene, and he reported that the girl, adult, and another girl (10) were about two hundred yards up the trail, having hiked 3.5 miles on the road to the trailhead from near White Mountain Ranch on Hwy 6.

The group had sought shelter from the sun at a pinon pine above the trail and the girls were unable to descend. The party was about 80 vertical feet above level ground on a steep slope with loose rock and scree.

The SAR team climbed to the party's location, assessed the patient, who had since recovered, and rigged a lowering system with a main and belay line. Each of the party was lowered with an attendant, and the team then descended the slope.

The girl who had been ill was able to walk to the trailhead without assistance. Responders were: Schmidt (Ops), Holmquist (Ops), Greene, Barnum, Robertson, Guffey, Dodson, Porges, and Case.


Looking for the rock climbers
Looking for the rock climbers

July 6-7, 2013. 13-566, #19 The night of Saturday, July 6, the Team responded to a report of two overdue rock climbers. A husband and wife from Oakland (ages 31 and 32) attempted a climb of the Northeast gully of Laurel Mountain, but failed to return that day, and were reported overdue by friends. The Team attempted to determine the location of the climbers that night via light signals from the lake, and also drove the Laurel Lakes road in case the party was descending in that direction. Neither team met with success.

Helicopter rescue by Jon Brusky taken through binoculars
Helicopter rescue by Jon Brusky taken through binoculars

The team staged at Convict Lake on Sunday morning, and scanned the cliffs with spotting scopes and binoculars from the lake, while two teams hiked or drove to high points for additional searching. A climbing team began ascending the route, while another ascended the other side of Laurel Mountain for additional searching from above. After four hours of searching, the overdue climbers were seen by spotting scope from Convict Lake. The party was off-route and halfway up the mountain. The SAR climbers were vectored toward the party. At this time a National Guard helicopter Spartan 622 from Sacramento arrived on scene, and was able to hoist the overdue climbers off the mountain. They were dehydrated but not injured.

The climbing in the Northeast Gully is not technically difficult, but the route is long and requires good route finding skills and experience with alpine climbing. Off route, the rock becomes loose and the terrain is much steeper. There have been two other rescues on this route in the last ten years due to climbers becoming stranded in steep, loose terrain. Climbers are advised not to be deceived by the low technical rating in guidebooks, and to gain experience on shorter alpine routes before attempting this climb. Responders were: DeGeorge (IC), Holmquist (Ops), Schmidt, Dodson, G Goryl, French, Case, C. Schilz, Endo, Gilbreath, Beck, Guffey, A. Goryl, Leyen, Porges, Scotese, J. Rousek, Vetter, Corning, Genevieve, B. Schilz, and Barnum.


Clark Canyon rescue operation 13-529 July 1, 2013
Transporting the injured climber

July 1, 2013. 13-529, # 18 While a couple were climbing in Clark Canyon, the female, who had a right hip replacement two years ago, attempted a vertical climbing move which caused the replacement to dislocate. She experienced extreme pain and was unable to continue the climb.

Her partner lowered her to the base of the route, but she was unable to weight the injury and was unable to move due to pain.

911 was called via cell phone, and Mono County Paramedics and the SAR Team were dispatched to the site at UTM 330516, 4182332.

The victim was splinted and stabilized in a wheeled litter, lowered down a pumice approach trail, and transported by Paramedic ambulance to the hospital for further treatment. Responders were: DeGeorge (Ops), Corning, Dodson, French, Guffey, Holmquist, Maroti, Vetter, Endo, G. Goryl, Mahoney, Soto, and Beck.


June 26, 2013. 13-508, #17 While a husband and wife were backpacking on the Pacific Crest Trail, the wife rolled her left ankle. She heard a pop and collapsed, experiencing severe pain. She was unable to weight the limb and was unable to continue. The husband made a flat area next to the trail where they could camp, and wrote a note stating that his wife was an injured backpacker with a possible broken left leg and unable to hike out. They were at UTM 322385, 4157451, which was found to be in Fresno County. They had a tent, food for the night, and did not plan to move. At 1415 the note was passed to a man who was hiking to Red's Meadow (Madera County), and a call was made to 911. Madera County SO Dispatch was contacted, and their SAR coordinator requested assistance from Mono County for the rescue, and the Team was called out. CHP helicopter H40 was not available until early morning. A SAR ground team was assigned to hike into the victim's location, and assess the victim and area for a medical evacuation by air. The Team hiked through the night and reached the victim at 0630 and assessed her medical condition. CHP helicopter H40 was able to extract her by hoist with the aid of the ground team. She was flown to Mammoth Lakes and transferred to Mono County Paramedics who took her to Mammoth Hospital for further treatment. It was determined that she sustained a fracture to her left distal fibula. The SAR Team assisted her husband carrying her pack to the Red's Meadow trailhead. Responders were: Corning (Ops), DeGeorge, Greene, Endo, A. Goryl, G. Goryl, and Guffey.


June 19, 2013. 13-482, #16 A couple from Ohio, ages 66 and 67, and their 10 year old grandson went on a day hike in the Saddlebag Lake area. They took the boat taxi across the lake and were expected to catch the last taxi back at the end of the day. They had lunch and only limited supplies with them. At 2147, they had failed to return back to Bishop and were reported by the father of the grandchild. He was concerned due to the ages of his son and parents and that they were not dressed for the conditions, had no light source or way to start a fire and were not familiar with the area. Their vehicle was still parked at the Lake. The Team responded and began a ground search, along with six spontaneous volunteers including staff from Saddlebag Lake resort. Trails around the lake and other likely routes were searched, but without encountering the subjects. Dispatch advised that the subjects had returned to Bishop, and were okay. The search was suspended and everyone in the field recalled. A follow up revealed they had been delayed and got back to the water taxi pickup point too late at 1930, and hiked around the lake. They were delayed in contacting the RP to advise they were enroute. Responders were: Holmquist (Ops), DeGeorge, Schmidt, Beck, Hartstrom, A. Goryl, G. Goryl, Ropke, Julao, Mahoney, and French.


June 18, 2013. 13-478, #15 The reporting party called 911, and also sent a PLB message for an injured kayaker on the middle fork of the San Joaquin river. The subject received a possible broken ankle after descending a ten foot waterfall in his kayak. Because the PLB notification went to Madera County, they handled the air resources. The 911 call went to Mono County Dispatch, and our Team provided the ground resources. As Teams were enroute, CHP helicopter H40 from Fresno was able to hoist the subject out of the river, and flew him to Minaret Vista where he was transferred to the Mono County paramedic ambulance. Responders were: Vetter (Ops), Corning, Mahoney, Soto, Greene, French, Julao, Wirken, Dodson, G. Goryl, and DeGeorge.


June 12-14, 2013. 13-466, #14 This was an out of state Mutual Aid coordinating resources between CalEma and Nevada's equivalent agency. SAR teams responded from Mineral County, Mono County, and Inyo County. A 54 year old man from Chicago called 911 on 6/12/13 claiming to be cliffed out on Boundary Peak. Shortly afterward, he called again and said that he was no longer cliffed out but needed to gain 1000 feet and wanted to know which way to go to his car. No further communication was heard from him. His car was still at the Trail Canyon trailhead the next morning. Esmeralda County does not have a SAR team and asked for assistance from Mono County. The Team responded with three off road patrol teams and two teams ascending a difficult and narrow drainage leading to the last known point (LKP) from cell phone pings. CHP helicopter H40 responded from Fresno and was able to fly for about an hour before strong winds forced them to return to their base. Mineral County SAR responded with one team who checked the Boundary Peak Register and got above the LKP with no clues or track. Friday the Team started at 0600 assisted by two members from Inyo SAR. Five Teams were dispatched to the field. Team one ascended Morris Creek, Team two ascended an unnamed peak for optical searching and relay, Team three cut track from Trail Canyon saddle, Team four prepared for an overnight to the LKP from above and Team five traversed the ridge across from the cliffs. At 1000 two Pave Hawk helicopters from Nellis AFB responded and within an hour had located the subject walking towards the west side of the Morris Creek drainage not far from our Team heading up. The subject was hoisted into the helicopter and was transported to the Command Base, then flown to Inyo hospital for further treatment. Responders were: Vetter (Ops), Corning (Ops), Scotese, Holmquist, G. Goryl, A. Goryl, Guffey, Leyen, Beck, C. Schilz, Barnum, Case, Hartstrom, Dodson, DeGeorge, and Buccowich.


June 5, 2013. 13-446, #13 A 21 year old man from Houston, Texas attempted to swim from the west short of Tioga Lake to a rock island about 150 yards out in the middle of the lake. He was fatigued and struggled to get to the island, where he felt weak, cold and had symptoms of hypothermia. He shouted to his family on shore that he did not want to risk swimming back and wanted to be rescued. Bystanders called Yosemite National Park, who called 911. The Team responded with a rubber raft and returned him to shore, where County paramedics evaluated his medical condition, and released him. Responders were: DeGeorge (Ops), Greene, Corning, and Dodson.


May 18-19, 2013. 13-387, #12 A 63-year old hiker from Merced, California was reported overdue by his son at 8:00 pm when he did not return from a 3 hour day hike. The SAR team was alerted, and hasty teams searched during the night from the point last seen. The search continued the next morning with the assistance of H40 out of Fresno. Later In the afternoon, assistance was provided by Inyo SAR and dog search teams from Truckee and Clovis. The subject spent a cold night out before encountering a hiker who had been alerted to our search efforts. The hiker, a past SAR team member directed our subject to the nearest trailhead and alerted the SAR team. The team located the subject and transported him back to his son. Responders were: Vetter & Corning (Ops), Glenn Goryl, Andrea Goryl, Ropke, Thompson, Barnum, Scotese, Case, Brad Schilz, Carole Schilz, Hartstrom, Beck, Hall, Mahoney, Soto, Robertson, Holmquist, and Julao.

A heinous hike from Horseshoe Lake
in the Mammoth Times by George Shirk, Managing Editor

Two-hour hike turns into overnight misadventure

It was supposed to be a two-to-three hour hike—a ramble, really, nothing much more than a walk in the woods.

But for a 63-year-old Merced man, a hike out of the Horseshoe Lake trailhead last weekend turned into a nightmare series of bad decisions that left him bruised, scarred, tired, and cold.

“It was like the Minnow on Gilligan’s Island,” said Gary Walker. “A two-hour tour.”

At least Gilligan found an island.

Wearing nothing more than three T-shirts, trousers, socks, sandals and a cap, Walker wandered into the mountains without a map or a clear idea of the geography, and no food.

Twelve hours later he emerged, after triggering a massive search that included both the Mono County and Inyo County Search and Rescue teams, two canine search units from Truckee and Clovis, and a helicopter search by an aircraft out of Fresno.

“I was getting in bigger and bigger trouble without realizing it,” Walker said of his march into the wilderness.

“I was making myself a very nice noose, then putting my neck in it.”

It all began Saturday afternoon, on May 18. In mid-afternoon, he and his 24-year-old son, Adam, parted ways at Horseshoe Lake in the Lakes Basin, Adam to return to town and father Gary to tromp the surrounding woods.

It did not take long, however, for Walker to lose the trail because of lingering snow, but he said he figured he did not have a problem. Later, he claimed someone in Mammoth had advised him one could never get lost up here as long as there was a downhill route. Sooner or later, a hiker would run into U.S. 395 or Bishop, and all would be OK.

Bad advice.

The route Walker chose went past Reds Meadow and the Devils Postpile, down a fork of the San Joaquin River and west, toward Fresno, no shot at the highway or Bishop, obviously.

He said he kept going even after darkness, trying to use the light of a half moon, and clambering over granite boulders rather than getting tangled in the increasing morass of underbrush.

At one point, about midnight, he said, he slipped on a boulder and crashed into a kind of rock hole, where he spent the night, huddled against temperatures in the mid-30s with only cotton T-shirts for protection.

“I spent a miserable night,” he said.

Meanwhile, according to the Mono County Sheriff’s Department, the search was underway.

“On the evening of Saturday, May 18, at about 8 p.m., Mono County Sheriff’s Dispatch received a call regarding an overdue hiker in the Horseshoe Lake area.

“The hiker was reported overdue by his son when he didn’t return after a three to four hour hike,” wrote Sheriff’s Department spokesperson Jennifer Hansen in a news release.

“The Mono County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue (SAR) team was called out to aid in the search for the missing hiker. The search continued all night with no sighting for the hiker.

“On the morning of Sunday, May 19, the Mono County SAR team received additional search assistance from a CHP H40 helicopter out of Fresno, the Inyo County Search and Rescue team, and canine teams from Truckee and Clovis.

“He did not make it out of the Reds Meadow area before nightfall. He spent a cold night out before some hikers spotted him the next morning, knew the search was going on, and informed (Walker) that search efforts were currently in progress for him.

“The hikers were able to get in touch with the SAR team and take the hiker to a nearby trailhead out of Reds Meadow where Mono County Sheriff’s SAR team members met the hiker and reunited him with his son.”

The “two-to-three-hour hike” thus ended 12 hours later, and by mid-week, Walker was up and about, telling his wild, wilderness tale.


May 5, 2013. 13-354, #11 A 24-year old snowboarder from Saratoga, California was injured by a fall while descending Matterhorn Peak and was able to call for help via cell phone. The SAR team was alerted, and CHP Helicopter H-20 was dispatched to provide assistance if possible. Meanwhile, a local guide and her group of clients were near the accident scene and were able to provide medical assistance to the patient. While a SAR ground team was enroute to the Horse Creek trailhead, CHP was able to fly to the patient's location at 10,900', despite deteriorating weather conditions. The patient was successfully extricated by helicopter and transported to Reno for treatment. Responders were: Holmquist (Ops), Schmidt, Beck, Hartstrom, Barnum, Dodson, Maroti, Guffey, Case, Wirken, and Gilbreath.


April 30, 2013. 13-343, #10 A 61 year old visitor from Orange, California was hiking on the McGee Creek trail about 3 miles from the trailhead above the beaver ponds when she sustained an ankle injury. A companion hiked down to a point where a cell phone call could be made to 911. The Team responded and sent a hasty medical team with oxygen and splints, followed by teams with litter and other equipment. The subject was evacuated to the trailhead, and was taken by Mono County paramedics to Mammoth Hospital for treatment. Responders were: Corning (Ops), Vetter, Guffey, Dodson, French, Holmquist, Schmidt, Leyen, Hartstrom, Scotese, and DeGeorge.


March 18, 2013. 13-190, #9 Two runners were running to Panorama Dome when one fell and suffered a fractured leg. The other ran out and called 911. Several agencies responded. The subject was located and taken by Tamarack snowcat to the trailhead, then to Mammoth Hospital for treatment. Responders were: Greene (Ops), Holmquist, Dodson, and Thompson.


March 13, 2013. 13-185, #8 A SAR member was driving back from June Lake and responded to a call for a lost skier at Inyo Craters. The indicated location from the cell phone was near the Crestview rest area. The skier and her small dog were quickly located and given a ride to her car at the Inyo Craters trailhead. Responder: Greene (Ops).


March 2, 2013. 13-143, #7 A husband and wife, along with a friend, went for a hike in the Inyo Craters area. They became lost and were unable to find their way back to their vehicle. They called 911 for assistance, and two search and rescue members responded with snowmobiles. While awaiting rescue, a father and son who were snowmobiling in the area came upon the lost party. Due to a lack of gas they were only able to transport one of the lost persons to where the search and rescue team was staging. The remaining two lost hikers were picked up by the search and rescue team, and all three were then taken back to their vehicle. Responders were: Greene (Ops), Guffey, and DeGeorge.


March 2, 2013. 13-???, #6 Two team members assisted June Lake Fire and Medic 2 personnel with a medical emergency at the snow play area near Deadman Summit. A Team tobaggan was used to transport the subject to the ambulance. Responders were: Greene and Guffey.


February 9, 2013. 13-068, #5 Early in the morning, a visitor from Ventura accidentally became locked out of a party hotel room, and set off lightly clad on foot toward personal lodging. Units from MLPD, Mammoth Fire, and the SAR Team were called out to search. Footprints in the snow were found leading to vehicle tire tracks. The subject was uninjured. Responders were: DeGeorge (Ops), Greene, and Holmquist.


February 4, 2013. 13-???, #4 A Team member transported a litter to a body recovery scene near June Lake. Responder: Greene.


February 3, 2013. 13-???, #3 A Team member responded to a snowmobile crash on Obsidian Dome Road. Responder: DeGeorge (Ops).


January 18, 2013. 13-034, #2 A 41 year-old local resident was reported to be in need of help in the snow above the Sherwin Creek Road. The SAR Team responded, as well as Mammoth Lakes Fire, Mammoth Lakes Police Department, Forest Service, and Mono County Sheriff deputies. Search teams looked for tracks by snowmobile, and dog teams searched for scent. Searchers on a Team snowmobile located the subject lying in the snow. Mono County Paramedics were transported by Team snowmobiles to the location. The patient was given warm clothing and heat packs and was transported by a snowmobile-towed toboggan to the road, and from there to Mammoth hospital by ambulance. Responders were: Holmquist (Ops), Greene, Hartstrom, Dodson, Brad Schilz, Ackerman, Scotese, and DeGeorge.


Older Operations will be found in the yearly Highlights pages.