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.