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On Wednesday, July 5th, at 1:30 am, a 30-year-old male failed to self-arrest after slipping on snow in the Mountaineer’s Route gully of Mt. Whitney, CA, and struck a rock. He reported a broken ankle, fully distorted to the side, but no exterior bleeding. He was at 13,366 feet and unable to descend further at that time.
Around 2 am, Inyo County Sheriff’s Office was contacted and began formulating a plan with Inyo SAR. Plan A would involve a collaborative effort with H-82 of CHP Inland Air Operations to hoist a SAR member to the subject’s location for extraction. But if that was not possible, Plan B would require transporting multiple SAR members and a lot of gear to Iceberg Lake to ascend to the subject’s location and lower him back down, making it a much more complicated technical rescue.
At first light, six SAR members departed for Lone Pine airport to meet H-82 of CHP Inland Air Operations.
By this point, Inyo SAR had received confirmation that the injured subject had made it down to Iceberg Lake. However, on the first flyover, it was discovered the subject was still a few hundred feet above the lake but on an open slope at approximately 13,000 feet. Since conditions and power were much better than anticipated, a hoist was attempted at the patient’s current location. A SAR member was successfully lowered to the patient, the patient was quickly hoisted up, followed again by the SAR member.
Thanks to the help of another party, who sacrificed their own summit bid that morning to help move the patient down about 300 feet. This selfless act helped expedite the extraction of the injured subject since a hoist would likely not have been possible at his initial location, which would have resulted in a much more complicated and involved rescue.
Inyo SAR was selected as a 2023 Rocky Talkie Search & Rescue award winner, which serves to highlight the unbelievable skill, dedication, and bravery of volunteer SAR members.
Join us in recognizing and celebrating our team by watching and voting for our story. The rescue with the most votes will be the Rocky Talkie 2023 Most Inspiring Rescue! Voting also enters you to win free Rocky Talkies!
Mount Whitney is the highest summit in the contiguous United States and the Sierra Nevada, with an elevation of 14,505 feet (4,421 meters). Located within California’s Inyo National Forest and Sequoia National Park, it is part of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. The most popular route to the summit is via the Whitney Trail, a 22-mile round-trip trek that begins at Whitney Portal, situated 13 miles west of the town of Lone Pine. Mount Whitney’s high altitude and rugged beauty attract hikers and climbers from around the globe.