Chinook Helicopter Rescues 3 Stranded Hikers on the Highest Peak in the Contiguous U.S.

Martin Kuprianowicz |
Three hikers were extracted from the summit of Mt. Whitney, California on Thursday, July 29. | Photo courtesy of Jaime Peske

A CH-47 helicopter was dispatched from Cal Guard’s Army Aviation Support Facility in Stockton, Calif. last Thursday with a mission to rescue three hikers on the contiguous United States’ highest peak. The three hikers had become stranded on the summit of Mt. Whitney near the final camp of the mountain’s 14,505-foot summit. They were forced to endure a night on the summit with cold temperatures and limited supplies.

The U.S. Army reports that the large helicopter could not land and had to hover near the final camp above 12,600 ft. The terrain was steep and rocky, forcing the pilot to perform what is known as a pinnacle landing—a landing where only the back wheels of the helicopter touch down and the rear ramp is lowered while the rest of the helicopter hovers above ground.

Photo courtesy of Jaime Peske

“We played that game of precise positioning for a couple minutes to even find a spot where we could safely get both wheels on the ground without a rock punching a hole in the aircraft or popping a tire,” U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 3 Aaron Mello said. “When you’re on the pinnacle, you’re working really hard to not let the wind shove you off when it gusts,” Mello said. “Every limb you have is gainfully employed in making small adjustments to keep you where you need to be. “It’s like riding a unicycle and trying to juggle.”

Once all three hikers and the helicopter’s crew members were safely on board the aircraft, they flew to Bishop Airport in the Owens Valley where they were dropped off, according to a U.S. Army report. All hikers got to go home safely—except that they ended up taking an unexpected route home.


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7 thoughts on “Chinook Helicopter Rescues 3 Stranded Hikers on the Highest Peak in the Contiguous U.S.

  1. Contiguous, not continental. Get your title right, or better yet, title the article “Snatched from Darwin’s clutches”.

  2. There’s remarkably little detail on the circumstances of the hikers, yet everyone here wants them to suffer? These are your countrymen and fellow outdoorspeople, the odds are not zero that you find yourself in the same situation one day. Assuming you actually recreate in big mountains.

    1. “rescue three hikers who were stranded above 12,600 ft. overnight with little to no supplies.”

      That’s what’s called a dum dum…

      I have a great idea. Let’s hike Mt. Whitney with limited to no overnight supplies.

  3. Throw supplies to them. Outrageous that lives where risked for no injuries or life threatened victims.

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