Alpine Co. SAR Incident Jobs Peak East Shoulder 2/12

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Alpine Co. SAR Incident Jobs Peak East Shoulder 2/12

Post by maverick » Tue Feb 19, 2019 12:46 pm

Alpine Co Sheriff's Dept:
It was a very windy day. From the valley floor, we could see snow plumes coming off the top of Jobs Peak and the surrounding peaks and ridges. It was a below freezing morning. There was only two of us. Our initial plan was to ski Jobs from the summit, but continued to re-evaluate the plan as we saw the transporting snow. We approached via Jobs Creek drainage. We continued up the west ridge of Jaws, Jobs north bowl. The snow in Jaws was very wind affected and crusty. We stopped a third of the way up the ridge due to high winds and poor snow conditions. After skiing down to the flat bench on top of Jobs creek we traversed into the north facing treed slope of the East Ridge. We had planned to ski a couloir facing more northeast, but the winds were too strong. There were several large wind lips as we passed through the trees. We took an upward angling path. We crossed over several other slide paths, making note of the snow as we went. The snow seemed consistent and chalky in the paths. In the trees it was lighter, but consolidated. At around 11:30 the wind had really set in and we decided to end the tour. We were going to take a path down the edge of the slide path through the trees. Unfortunately, one of my skins was blown out of my hands and fell down the slope. At this point we had been discussing our descent options and had decided to ski the slope below us. The snow seemed similar to the snow we had been skinning and skiing. We were unsure if the slide path continued on; we couldn’t see past a break over in the path. We decided to go down the slope. I grabbed my skin and went to the edge of the path near the trees about 200 feet down. My partner came next on a slightly different path, skier’s left. He came into a slightly convex area. I saw the slope around him break around the convex section. He was in the center of the broken slope with 25-30ft on either side and 50-80ft above him above him. I stood off to the side, near a ridge. I watched him slide by. He did a great job fighting to stay on top of the snow. I saw him hit a few trees and then he was carried away out of view. I felt the slope I was on was still safe. I started skiing down right away looking for surface clues. I knew he didn’t stop before the break over so I skied directly to that zone. I did not need to pull out my beacon to begin my search as I saw him partially buried a hundred feet below. He was face up and breathing. He slid approximately 400 ft. The slide continued for another 400ft. His skis and pols had been ripped off of him. When I reached him he was complaining of leg pain. I unburied his foot. It foot was facing the wrong direction. It was clear that it was a compound open fracture by the blood and angulation. After a full assessment and no other injuries, I splint his foot with a ski poles and ace bandage. We immediately called 911 to start Search and Rescue. He was then placed in a Pieps Bivi bag, packed with hand and body warmers, and kept off the snow with pads and packs. We were still in the slide path, but we did not want to move him at this time. We were told that a helicopter was coming to hoist us from our location. So we stayed in place. Unfortunately, the CHP helicopter was unable to extract us due to high winds. We then began moving down the slope with my partner protecting his broken leg with his good leg. I post holed backwards down the slope while dragging him in my path. I dragged him feet first. We traveled down1000ft, vertically, before we were met by Clint, from Alpine County Search and Rescue (ACSAR). Clint and I then dragged my partner 200 more feet before reaching the creek below, where we were met by other ACSAR members. Clint helped me drag my friend horizontally as I was beginning to worry about the blood loss, from his leg. My friend was very cold and hypothermic. With more ACSAR members we drug my partner through the snow in a “Mega Mover”. It was a long hard process with manzanita traps along the way. Collin, from ACSAR, helped Clint and me with the majority of the work. The other ACSAR members did a fantastic job stamping down the path in front of us. As we got lower in elevation the winds died down, slightly. A Blackhawk military helicopter (out of Reno) was able to hoist my friend out at this point. (See Google Earth image for locations.) Tahoe Douglas Search and Rescue was also at scene. The accident occurred on the California/Nevada border. Thank you to all the rescuers who helped. Without you we couldn’t have made it out.

What we learned:

- Sometimes even with more time and energy it is important to call a ski day after one lap. The human factor is a very real contributor to events like this. We knew it was windy and saw the snow being transported. I felt like the snow was the same as when we started skiing, but miss read the amount of snow transport in the trees.

- It is important to make sure there is cell reception or you have a way to communicate with rescuers. We were fortunate that we had cell reception and accurate GPS the entire time.

- Having a bivi bag, not just a space blanket, is essential for warmth and transportation. Have extra clothes, warm liquid, and a helmet.

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