January 13, 2019 19-017, #1

On January 13, 2019, a snowboarder was reported as overdue near closing time at MMSA. Ski Patrol was in the process of an active search, both inbounds and out. The subject was reported to be of low skill level and experience, and was riding with friends off of Chair 23 via Roadrunner. The subject’s friends reported him missing when the group became separated.

After sundown, the Sheriff’s Office was notified, and the Team was requested to assist. As the Team arrived on scene at MMSA Main Lodge, the respondents were put on temporary standby as Ski Patrol was concluding their search.

Shortly thereafter, Ski Patrol initiated voice contact with the subject, and then visually located the subject. The Team was released, and Ski Patrol returned the subject to Main Lodge, cold but uninjured.

IC Pelichowsky, Ops Hammack, L Responders: Bush, Kaufman, Quiring, Rea, Beck, Wallace, Patterson, Cucura, Creager, Buchanan, Dunne, and Hagan.

November 23, 2018 18-634, #37

On Thanksgiving Day, November 22, the team was notified of a hiker in distress, snowed in around the Garnet Lake area, near the PCT at approximately 9,900 feet elevation. The hiker’s condition was reported as stable. Winter weather restricted air access to the area.

On Friday, November 23, MOSAR team members rendezvoused with a National Guard CH-64 Chinook helicopter at the Mammoth-Yosemite Airport.

Schooner 20, Bravo Company 1-126th Aviation Regiment,  40th Combat Aviation Brigade .

Schooner 20, Bravo Company 1-126th Aviation Regiment, 40th Combat Aviation Brigade.

After loading equipment, the combined team of MOSAR and the National Guard flight crew waited on the runway for a weather window.

The flight crew of Guardian 803 navigated in the tight airspace, in a snowstorm, in the High Sierra, and were able to locate the subject. A suitable landing zone was located, and the Chinook set down less than 40 feet away from the subject.

The subject was rapidly onboarded, followed by a medical assessment and treatment. A Mono County medic unit met the helicopter at the Mammoth-Yosemite Airport and provided ongoing patient care and transport.

Responders were Hammack, Endo, Quiring, and Kaufman.

Subject recovered, safely on the airship, and receiving medical care.

Subject recovered, safely on the airship, and receiving medical care.

November 18-21, 2018, 18-616 #36

Second mutual aid response to the Butte County Camp Fire.  The Team was assigned to the task of clearing properties (searching for human remains, pets, hazards, etc) in the outskirts of Concow, CA. Team members were stationed each night at a large rescue/fire camp (called Camp Forebay) in Oroville, CA. The camp provided a large mess area, showers, sleeping area, medical zone, PPE distribution, fuel-up area, large IC area, and much more. The team slept in tents out in the quieter section of the park/camp. Ops began at 0830 each morning and concluded at 1600. Level 3 hazmat gear was worn each day, and the National Guard ran decontamination stations for us, equipment, and vehicles each day. Our last day a clear set of bones was found, but upon investigation by anthropologists, it turned out to (likely) be a two-toed animal and not human. Responders were: Quiring, Wallace, Luke Hammack, Hagan, Beck, Hartstrom, Pelichowski and Hansen. The Team volunteered 336 man hours for this call.

November 12-14, 2018, 18-616 #35

The Team responded in Mutual Aid to Butte County to search for human remains in the Camp Fire devastation.  Protective gear for eyes, breathing, and clothing was required  The Team arrived at midnight and slept in a classroom on the floor.  The first day's assignment was to search through missing person's properties that were reduced to ashes, looking for any sign of human remains with the assistance of an anthropologist.  The next two nights they slept on cots in a high school gymnasium with 200 of their closest friends.  The next day they were assigned a large area to check inside every car, again looking for human remains; marking every car searched.  While in Paradise they had on full protective gear and completed the National Guard's decontamination process.  Responders were:  Pelichowski, Greene, Kaufman, Buchanan, and Quiring.  The Team volunteered 172 man hours for this call.  412 POV miles.

November 3 & 4, 2018, 18-576 #34

In a continuation of the Karlie Guse’ search, the Team responded to a request for flankers and support to assist human remains detecting dog teams in the area around White Mountain Estates. Responders were:  Case, Bush, Kaufman, Quiring, Buchanan, Wallace, and Greene.   The Team volunteered 102 man hours for this call.  556 POV miles.

November 1 & 2, 2018, 18-599 #33

Alpine County requested mutual aid searchers for a missing peak bagger in difficult terrain at high altitude.  The subject was found deceased on November 3 at the base of a 200 foot cliff.  Responders were:  Pelichowski (MCSO 2 days), Quiring (2 days), Buchanan (2 days), Kaufman (2 days), Bush, Wallace, and Cucura.  The Team volunteered 162 man hours for this call.  548 POV miles.

October 21, 2018 18-584 #32

The Team was called at 5 PM to locate and rescue a 21 year old male from San Jose, CA who had severe symptoms of altitude sickness.  The location was given as 1-1/2 miles above Barney Lake out of the Mono Village trailhead.  The Team hiked in approximately 5 miles with the RP, and arrived in two hours.  It was dark from start to finish for the entire incident.  The subject was hypothermic, disoriented, shivering, and in pain. His spo2 was 62%, with rapid breathing and weak radial pulse.  He could not walk.  After an hour of oxygen, his condition improved enough that a 4 hour carryout was started, arriving at the trailhead at 0210, where Mono County Paramedic 7 transported him to Carson Valley Medical Center in Gardnerville.  No helicopter service was available.  Responders were:  Hansen (IC), Buchanan, Kaufman, Hagan, Hartstrom, and Patterson.  The Team volunteered 62 man hours for this call.

October 13, 2018, 18-576, #30

At approximately 2100 hours, the team received a call out for a missing 16 year old female in the area of White Mountain Estates. She was last seen Saturday morning on Ponderosa Street near White Mountain Estates in Chalfant, walking toward California highway 6.. Team members were requested to meet at the Laws Museum at 0600 hours on Sunday October 14, 2018. Team members, along with two search and rescue dogs/handlers from the Fresno area, searched but did not locate the subject. After a short debriefing, the search was suspended for the day. Responders were: Hartstrom (Ops), Sgt. Clark (IC), Bush, Belovsky, Torrence, Kallemeyn, Frolio, Quiring, and Kaufman. The Team volunteered 85 man hours on this day.

September 14, 2017, 18-516, #29

A call was initiated at 1017 on September 14. 2018 for a 63 year-old female backpacker from Arizona, who was complaining of back spasms. She was on the Pacific Crest Trail west of Waugh Lake (now dry). A team of five members was dispatched to the Rush Creek parking lot to wait for further instructions. CHP H40 was dispatched and located the subject. They were able to land and hiked a mile to the subject. After assisting the subject to the helicopter, they flew her to the Mammoth Lakes airport, where the she was transported by Mono County Paramedics. to Mammoth Hospital for treatment. Responders were: Pelichowski (IC), Kaufman, Torrence, Patterson, Buchanan, and Creager. The Team volunteered 16 man hours for this call.

September 3, 2018, 18-496, #28

At 1310 the Team received a call for a 38 year old climber from Alameda, CA with a reported fractured ankle at the bottom of the last pitch of the 3rd Pillar of Mt. Dana.

The Team responded to Lee Vining airport anticipating an air insertion, but all air resources were reporting as unavailable or available with significant delay, so a hike in was necessary.

The field teams drove to Tioga Lake, and started up the use trail toward the summit of the 3rd pillar. As soon as the first three arrived, a main and belay were constructed, and upon the arrival of the second three, a lowering commenced.


A Team member was lowered with a litter over the edge of the 700' cliff to the subject. The subject was packaged, and as other members of the field team arrived, a raising was begun with a 7:1 mechanical advantage. The litter stuck briefly at the edge, but was vectored successfully over the lip.

Image provided by the pilot of H40 who flew in to extract the subject

Image provided by the pilot of H40 who flew in to extract the subject

It's a long way up...

It's a long way up...

CHP helicopter H80 arrived from Apple Valley and landed on the Dana Plateau. The litter was carried to H80; the subject was flown to Lee Vining, and Mono County Paramedics transported him to Mammoth Hospital for treatment. H80 returned to retrieve a crewman.

CHP H80 waiting to transport our subject

CHP H80 waiting to transport our subject

The Team sent another member over the edge to the subject's partner who was still on the face about 100' from the summit blocks. The Team conducted the second raise to bring up the subject's partner, then all systems were demobilized, and all field teams hiked out to Tioga Lake, with most of the walk in the dark with periods of rain.

Hiking out...

Hiking out...

Responders were:  Beck (Ops), Pelichowski (IC), Quiring, Kaufman, Bush, Torrence, Rea, Greene, Halferty, Cowan, Endo, and Hammack.  The Team volunteered 116 man hours for this call.

August 29, 2018, 18-490 #27

The callout began at 1839 for a hiker with an injured ankle near Greenstone Lake.  Three field teams were dispatched and located the subject who was attended by two campers who had assisted the subject to their camp from the accident location.  After treatment, the subject was transported to the trailhead via wheeled litter, and she was transported to Mammoth Hospital via a friend and personal vehicle.

Back at base, preparing for transport

Back at base, preparing for transport

Responders: Beck (Ops) Hansen (IC), Quiring, Patterson, Torrence, Bush, Greene, Dunne, Hartstrom, Carlson, Cowan, Rea, Hagan, Unsworth, and Eimen.  The Team volunteered 141 man hours for this call.

August 18, 2018, 18-457, #26

At 1345, The Team was called in aid of an 80 year old hiker on the Fern Lake trail.  June Lake Fire and Medic 2 also responded.  The subject was evacuated via wheeled litter to the trailhead, and Mono County Paramedics transported him to Mammoth Hospital. 

Responders were:  Beck (OPS), Pelichowski (IC), Bush, Cowan, Kaufman, Fernandez, Quiring, Wallace, Buchanan, Greene, and Case.  The Team volunteered 41 man hours for this call.

August 13, 2018. 18-437, continued, #25

Two field teams hiked 35 miles of trails and cross country routes in Horse  Creek, Blacksmith Canyon, Robinson Creek drainage, checking key points including Barney Lake, Peeler Lake, Snow Lake, Crown Lake and Rock Island Pass.  No clues were found and the search was suspended at the end of this day.  The subject was later found on Saturday August 18, deceased, on Suicide Ridge in Yosemite. 

Responders on August 13 were:  Buchanan, Wallace, Bush, Frolio, and Rea.  The Team volunteered 84 man hours on this day.

August 12 & 13, 2018, 18-440, #24

At approximately 1213, Mono County Sheriff’s Office Dispatch was contacted by a pair of hikers in the Mount Ritter area.  The call was for a 21 year old female hiker/scrambler from Southern California who had taken a fall on Mt. Ritter near the bottom of the chute that leads up toward the summit from the Southeast Glacier. 

They had turned around an estimated 400 vertical feet from the summit, and were descending at the time of the accident, and were at approximately 12,200 feet.  She sustained head injuries, and many scrapes, lacerations, and contusions.  She did not remember the fall, but her partner reported that her footing shifted, and she fell and landed on a snowfield, and slid down the snowfield, accelerating quickly, until her descent was arrested by a head-first slide into talus. 

Four team members met at the Mammoth-Yosemite airport and were transported via Lemoore Naval Air Station Seahawk helicopter.  The crew members were using night vision equipment.

Night insertion onto Mt. Ritter

Night insertion onto Mt. Ritter

The helo flew to the vicinity, and a blinking headlamp was spotted high up on Ritter.  The helo flew to the proposed LZ, and scouted the terrain, performed power checks, and eventually set down in a small alpine meadow at 9,600 feet elevation, less than 2 miles from the subject, and 2,500 vertical feet lower. 

The field team offloaded, and the helo departed to fly a little closer to be sure that the injured party had been identified.  The helo verified that they had located the subject, confirmed the coordinates of their location, and departed.

The field team began hiking through the dark, making steady progress through the cross-country terrain and difficult 3rd-class rock scrambling and across a snowfield  After an hour or so of snow scrambling, a headlamp was spotted a few hundred feet above the field team, and the team quickly maneuvered to the location, arriving around 0100 at around 11,400'. 

Treatment underway

Treatment underway

The climbing party had not been prepared for a night out. 

The subject was treated through the night, and prepared for extraction.

A helo extract had been promised for 0800 Monday morning, but it did not arrive until 1030.  In the meantime, the subject had been loaded in the litter and carried from the overnight location to down to a location for better access to the helicopter. 

The ride out

The ride out

An Air Force CH 47 Chinook flew in and extracted the subject and the field team, who were all flown to Lee Vining, and Care Flight transported the subject from Lee Vining to Reno. 

 Responders were: Pelichowski (IC), Beck, Endo, Hagan, and Creager.  The Team volunteered 107 man hours for this call.

August 11, 2018, 18-437, #22

The Team was called at 1154 to search for a missing 48 year-old male backpacker who was ten days overdue.  The backpacker took out a wilderness permit for a backpacking trip to begin on July 25, and exiting on August 1.  He planned to backpack from Robinson Creek to Crown Lake, Matterhorn Canyon, Smedberg Lake, Seavey Pass and Peeler Lake.  He was last seen at the Bridgeport Ranger Station. 

On August 11 his father reported him overdue.  Eight SAR members responded to the call and responded to the Sheriff’s office in Bridgeport, where base was established. Two members were dispatched to the trailhead at the Mono Village Resort Campground to interview people exiting the trailhead and to post some missing person posters. 

A Sheriff deputy and a SAR member drove to the campground to investigate the subject’s vehicle. The car was unlocked and inside they found the subject’s wallet, cell phone, cash, keys and a journal/diary.  Additional calls were made to the subject’s parents to gather further information about the subject. At 1740 two YOSAR teams began hiking the same route the subject put on his wilderness permit. 

Responders on August 11 were:  Greene (Ops), Hansen (IC), Kaufman, Frolio, Bush, Wallace, Buchanan, Case, and Torrence.  The Team volunteered 77 man hours on this day.

August 4, 2018, 18-423, #21

Tuolumne SAR (YOSAR) requested a mutual aid response for a missing 8 year old hiker in the area of Mono Pass.  The boy was described as having brown hair wearing a purple tie-dyed shirt and blue jeans. His name was Ryan. 

YOSAR explained that Ryan was hiking with his family near Spillway Lake and had somehow become separated; they suspected that he was continuing on the trail that goes over Mono Pass into the Walker Lake drainage.  YOSAR requested that we conduct a hasty search of the trails in the area of Mono Pass and they were sending a ground team over the pass from the west. 

Mono SAR Team members were working on a previous call near Devils Postpile, but others were available to respond to this one.  Two SAR members started on the west side of Walker Lake and headed west toward the top of Mono Pass. 

Patrol Deputies and a single SAR member were checking the several different trailheads and camping areas.  Field Team 1 advised over the radio that he had spoken to 2 individuals that had seen Ryan in the area of Little Sardine Lake at approximately 1345 hours.  Ryan looked OK and his direction of travel was east towards Walker Lake. 

At 1745, dispatch was contacted by a group of campers in the area stating that Ryan had walked into their campsite near the trailhead.  At 1805 hours, Field Team 1 advised that he was with Ryan and conducting a medical assessment. Ryan was tired, but happy and healthy.  Two YOSAR team members and Ryan were provided a ride back to Yosemite.  SAR members were in the field from 1500 to 2000 hours. 

Responders were:  Pelichowski (IC & Ops), Bush, Kallemeyn, and Hagan.  The Team volunteered 21 man hours for this call.

August 4, 2018, 18-421, #20

A callout was sent at 1428 in aid of a 33 year old male hiker from La Puente, CA who was injured after slipping on a wet rock and falling while hiking near Minaret Falls in the Devil's Postpile area. 

The reporting party stated that  he had a compound open leg fracture and they would be moving him out of the water.  Two SAR teams were sent from the Postpile Ranger Station up the trail to Minaret Falls to the subject. 

When the SAR teams arrived on scene, a Park Ranger Paramedic and EME had already wrapped and splinted the subject's leg. After a medical assessment was performed, the subject was transported, by wheeled litter to an awaiting ambulance at the Ranger Station.  Mono County paramedics transported him to Mammoth Hospital. 

Responders were:  Greene (Ops), Hansen (IC), Fernandez, Carlson, Quiring, Wallace, Buchanan, Torrence, Kaufman, Hennes, and French.  The Team volunteered 46 man hours for this call.

August 2, 2018. 18-416, #19

A 28 year old local hiker whose legs were pinned between boulders on a high ridge above Duck Lake called 911 and activated his emergency locator beacon.  Ten SAR members in four teams were dispatched up the Duck Pass trail. 

CHP Helicopter H40 responded, searched the area for a while unsuccessfully, and then landed at the Horseshoe Lake borrow pit to meet with SAR team personnel to discuss additional search areas/strategy.    After removing weight/equipment from the helo, the CHP crew flew back to the accident area with a MOSAR member and began searching additional locations based on data received from the subject’s cell phone. 

The victim was sighted by H40 at 37.56018, -118.94244 (11,900 feet) with the sun reflecting off the space blanket he was waving.   H40 landed at an LZ northeast of Duck Lake and debarked the MOSAR member, who radioed the lead ground team in the Duck Lake area the subject’s location.  The other team was then able to see the reflections of the space blanket and began hiking directly to the subject’s location.

01 Google Earth.jpg

The Ops Leader instructed the MOSAR member to leave H40 and join the teams in the field.  A helo from Lemoore NAS arrived, in case additional SAR members or heavy lift equipment was need at the scene.  It landed at the Horseshoe Lake borrow pit to pick up the heavy lift gear and a Mammoth Lakes Fire Department operator.  They then flew to Duck Lake and attempted to insert the operator and lift gear near the accident site.

Due to the high altitude and winds they were unable to do the insert near the accident site, so they then landed next to H40 at the LZ.  The on-site team requested additional O2, and H40 was able to lower an O2 bottle provided by the Lemoore team to the ground team.  After hoisting down the O2 bottle, H40 flew to Mammoth airport to configure for a hoist/extraction operation. 

Mammoth Lakes Fire Department personnel transported H40’s equipment from the Horseshoe Lake pit to Mammoth airport.  Being unable to debark the equipment and operator near the accident site, Lemoore helo flew to Mammoth airport to drop off the lift equipment and operator they had pick up at the Horseshoe pit.  They then returned to Lemoore NAS. 

When team members reached the subject, they assessed his injuries, provided him oxygen, and set up two mechanical advantage pulley systems (5 to 1 and 9 to 1) to move the boulder that was trapping him.  Before successfully freeing the subject, several attempts had to be made with minor re-rigging of the pinning boulder in order to achieve a rock lift/pivot that didn’t put more weight on the pinned legs. 

CHP H40 preparing to hoist

CHP H40 preparing to hoist

Just after the subject was freed, H40 returned to the accident site and lowered the Bauman bag and a litter to the ground team.  A quick patient packaging was done, and the subject was hoisted up to H40, and flown to Mammoth Airport.   Mono County Paramedics transported him to Mammoth Hospital.  The call was ended at 2230. 

Responders were:  Beck (Ops), Hansen (IC), Kaufman, Bush, Hennes, Wallace, Greene, Torrence, Eimen, Quiring, Case, Endo, Cowan, Guffey, Gilbreath, French, and Hagan.  The Team volunteered 158 man hours for this call.