Mono SAR Incident 7/3 Mendenhall Couloir

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Mono SAR Incident 7/3 Mendenhall Couloir

Post by maverick » Wed Jul 22, 2020 10:42 am

Mono SAR:
At 1540 the team was called for assistance to a 34-year-old male from Oakland with a reported open fracture to his right leg, sustained while climbing the Mendenhall Couloir (aka Northeast Gully) on Laurel Mountain. The reporting party stated that the party had been hit by rockfall, and the subject had fallen an additional 20-30 feet, had a broken climbing helmet and an altered level of consciousness, along with an open fracture.

Rescue Base was established at the Convict Lake hikers parking lot. Immediately after receiving the call, a request was made through the Office of Emergency Services (OES) for air resources. Naval Air Station Lemoore (lemooresar@IG) accepted the mission and began preflight.

Field teams 1 & 2 were assigned to approach the subject from below by climbing the route, and either lowering the subject through the night, or stabilizing him until a morning air extraction. The subject was located approximately 3/4 of the way up the route, perhaps 2,000’ up lower-angled 5th class terrain, but descending from above had a high likelihood of generating rockfall on the route, and hitting the subject.

Team 3 was assigned to provide communication services at the intersection of Highway 395 & Convict Lake Road. Team 4 was assigned to radio relay at the top of a ridge to the east of Rescue Base. Team 5 carried both halves of the break-apart titanium litter, and the litter wheel to the base of the climbing route. A spotting team at the east side of Convict Lake could view the subject and his partners through high-powered optics, as well as teams 1 & 2 as they prepared for their ascent.

At 1825 Lemoore (call sign Lasso) arrived in a Seahawk (Sikorsky UH-60 variant) and began searching for the subjects, guided by radio communications from the spotting team. Three team members began their ascent to the subject. After Lasso located the subject and his companions, they made several low approaches to test the downdrafts and power check, as winds were steady 25 knots, gusting to 40, and the subject location was on the lee (downwind) side of Laurel Mountain.

Lasso flew to the Mammoth-Yosemite airport to drop excess gear (weight) and returned to the incident site at approximately 10,500’. Due to the warm temperature and low barometric pressure, the aircrew were reporting a density altitude (DA, pressure altitude adjusted for non-standard temperature. The higher the DA, the less aircraft performance) of 12,948’, just 52’ below their 13,000’ service ceiling.

Lasso was able to lower their medic to the subject location, then departed the area to burn some fuel (weight) while the subject was assessed and packaged for the hoist. Lasso was able to retrieve their medic and the subject, and they were transported to the Mammoth-Yosemite airport, and the subject was transferred to the care of Mono County medics, and transported to Mammoth Hospital.

Despite darkness, Lasso returned to the incident site twice more to hoist the subject’s companions, one who also had a significant injury. The subject’s injuries, while serious, turned out to be less serious than initially reported, with a fractured patella and various scrapes and contusions.

All field team members returned to base for debriefing, and at 2233, the call was terminated.
aiting on the progress of the Lemoore Seahawk at the entrance to the Mendenhall Couloir/NortheastGully
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Re: Mono SAR Incident 7/3 Mendenhall Couloir

Post by c9h13no3 » Wed Jul 22, 2020 11:00 am

Was kayaking with the wife at Convict Lake when this happened. Was kinda blown away with how little gear the hasty team runs in with, looked like just a first aid kit & a water bottle. I suppose the guys with the litter bring them a jacket and other supplies later.

If you look closely you can see the chopper flying in.
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