Mono County SAR, 8/8/19

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Re: Mono County SAR, 8/8/19

Post by giantbrookie » Wed Aug 28, 2019 2:34 pm

Wow, I'm very glad to hear that you got out safely. The damage is not trivial, but I'm with everyone else in being glad it's not life threatening nor threatening to your future outdoor endeavors. Best wishes for a speedy recovery. What happened to you could have very easily happened to any of us who like these sorts of off trail adventures, especially this season where the snow has persisted far longer than average. There were marginal moments on my late July trip where something similar to what you experienced threatened me and my daughter.


Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;






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Re: Mono County SAR, 8/8/19

Post by BSquared » Thu Jan 02, 2020 10:34 am

Hmmm... doing a trip in Northern Yosemite this year from Tuolumne to Twin Lakes and was thinking of Little Slide Canyon as a possible side trip or alternative way out. Think I'll do a little more thinkin' ... ;)
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Re: Mono County SAR, 8/8/19

Post by CAMERONM » Thu Jan 02, 2020 8:59 pm

Thanks for the report and I am glad that it turned out relatively well.
I do a lot of wide loops at a considerable expense of time around where I think water might be flowing underneath.
Certainly, early/fresh unsettled snow must be a lot more hazardous.

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Re: Mono County SAR, 8/8/19

Post by LMBSGV » Tue Jan 14, 2020 1:07 pm

The trip report for this trip, including a detailed description of the accident, is here:

http://www.highsierratopix.com/communit ... =1&t=20299

I do not think Little Slide Canyon is inherently overly dangerous. There was a use trail from Ice Lake Pass down to where my accident occurred. From the area near the Incredible Hulk on down, the trail was obvious. If one goes late season when there is not a lot of snow, it is class 2 at the worst and class 1for much of the hike. If I’d been over the snowfield where my accident occurred a couple of days earlier or a couple of days later, I doubt there would have been a problem. Unfortunately, I happened to be in the right place at the wrong time (or is it the wrong place at the wrong time?).
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Re: Mono County SAR, 8/8/19

Post by BSquared » Thu Feb 13, 2020 7:54 am

Thanks for the reply. Yes, it does look like a pretty good cross-country route, perhaps even easier than most. My friend and I have decades of backpacking experience but just a few miles of cross-country, however if there are use trails (and particularly if there's no snow, very likely in August of this year), I'm guessing it should be quite doable. It sounds like it might be worth it just to stop at that campsite you discovered at the beginning of the XC route! :nod:

I'll ask again: has anyone else reading this done the descent of Little Slide Canyon and have any suggestions? Reasonable for a couple of old-timers? Should we expect to take just one day to Twin Lakes from LSGMB's campsite, which sounds like it's fairly close to the departure point from the main trail?
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Re: Mono County SAR, 8/8/19

Post by CAMERONM » Sun Nov 22, 2020 3:32 pm

Hi, I re-read your account. You don't mention what traction you used, or the lack of it. Could lack of traction be the prime culprit in your bad luck?

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Re: Mono County SAR, 8/8/19

Post by LMBSGV » Sun Nov 22, 2020 4:48 pm

No, traction was not an issue. The creek had undercut the snow field so it was hanging unsupported underneath. As soon as I saw that, I dropped down to better distribute my weight before moving to the right. The snow collapsed into the creek with me on top of it and I landed on a large rock in the creek. The entire sequence of events was literally 3 seconds: seeing the unsupported snow, lying down, and then falling. Jim, the search and rescue person, thought it was a 7 foot fall onto the rock.
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Re: Mono County SAR, 8/8/19

Post by CAMERONM » Sun Nov 22, 2020 6:26 pm

Thanks. Yes as I mentioned before I am super-afraid of the center of snow fields where there might be those conditions, so I hike wide around them, and in the unavoidable cases where I have to pass over something dodgy I even ready myself and my pack for falling through. Not that the painful outcome would be much different from what you experienced.

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Re: Mono County SAR, 8/8/19

Post by CAMERONM » Sun Nov 22, 2020 8:23 pm

So I started wondering:
-Given this experience, what will you do differently?
-Do you think you would have managed without the others who arrived pre-helicopter?

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Re: Mono County SAR, 8/8/19

Post by LMBSGV » Mon Nov 23, 2020 11:19 am

-Given this experience, what will you do differently?
I will avoid snowfields with a creek running through them. Actually, in my 40+ years in the Sierra, I’ve always avoided snow bridges. The situation for my accident was unique and so I don’t expect to encounter those exact circumstances ever again, especially at my age (70 next summer).
-Do you think you would have managed without the others who arrived pre-helicopter?
I don’t really know the answer to that. I am very grateful I didn’t have to try and take care of myself alone. I was fully conscious the entire time. If I had been forced to do certain things, I don’t know if I would have passed out from the pain. The people who helped me were quite extraordinary in their kindness and generosity, which is why I consider them to be saviors.

The two climbers from Patagonia saved me from having to deal with whether or not I could have attempted to retrieve my pack and get out the polartec pants, jacket, and sleeping bag to prevent me from getting too cold. Once I got myself out of the creek, I stopped showing most of the shock symptoms, at least until they came. But I don’t know for sure if the chilly wind might have caused me to subside into shock without their retrieval of my pack. If I had to retrieve my pack, I would have ended up dragging it through the creek with my one good arm. If I had managed to get my pack out of the creek, I probably would have opened the top and dumped out the contents, much like the woman from Patagonia did.

Also, I don’t know if I could have got the attention of the first helicopter my saviors waved at, which resulted in the smaller second helicopter that rescued me. Fortunately, I didn’t have to deal with trying to signal with the mirror on my compass or put rocks in an SOS. Doing the rock signal with only one arm while crawling would have been extremely difficult.

My saviors also helped me to stand up and get in the gurney. I suspect Jim could have managed that if he’d had to, but it definitely was easier to do with their assistance. Also, they carried my pack and camera case to the helicopter. Again, Jim could have managed that, but their assistance allowed him to concentrate on the best way to rescue me and reassure me while waiting. Jim exuded confidence and assurance.

Finally, I can’t possibly ascertain how much those four people provided emotional support. Being able to talk with people who were obviously so competent and kind allowed me to survive with my sanity (relatively) intact. If I had to be there alone, I have no idea if at some point whether I might have panicked or given in to despair. When the one helicopter flew away, there was a quite noticeable emotional let down from all of us. If I had been alone, I don’t know how I might have reacted at that point. I’m just glad I didn’t have to find out.

The lesson in all this is carry a whistle so it is possible to summon help and not face the long hours until search and rescue arrives alone.
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