SELECTED RESCUES - YOSAR responded to 219 calls in 2006
SAR Complex - 9/30-10/1
On 10/01/06 Yosemite National Park experienced a flurry of SAR incidents. These events were punctuated by an ongoing major search operation and the onset of the area’s first winter storm. The park sustained nonstop rescue activity at a rate almost triple the normal SAR case load for this time of year.
The Park combined most of the rescue activity under one command structure with a single incident command staff responsible to triage all developing rescue incidents and to allocate assets as appropriate.
The following are brief summaries of the different operations of this SAR complex:
- SAR # 06-191
Tamarack Flats Campground - On 09/30/06 the Mather District took a missing persons report for Stiles Cummings, a 26 year old man. Cummings was last seen on 09/29/06 when he walked barefoot out of the Tamarack campground and did not return.
On 10/01/06 the Mather District initiated a major search operation for Cummings, drawing a large amount of SAR assets from around the park.
- SAR # 06-192
Cathedral Peak, Tuolumne Meadows- On 10/30/06 at approximately 0001 hours Tuolumne rangers were alerted to an injured climber who had taken a 40 foot roped climbing fall and was seriously injured. Tuolumne SAR staff worked through the night to locate, treat and evacuate the patient.
Helicopter and medical assets committed to the Cummings search operation (SAR # 191) were diverted to extricate the patient. Due to the severe condition of the climber, he was flown from the Cathedral Peak area directly to the Mammoth Lakes Hospital.
- SAR # 06-193
Zodiac Route, El Capitan, Yosemite Valley- On 09/30/06 at approximately 1700 hours NPS dispatch received a 911 CHP transfer call reporting a request for a rescue of a climbing team on the Zodiac Route of El Capitan. The Korean climbers on the wall spoke no English requiring a Korean Climber/Interpreter who spoke little English to assist SAR personnel with communication. Clarifying the situation was difficult but eventually it was determined that the Korean climbers desired to be rescued because the haul line was tangled with their other lines. They were eventually able to correct their situation and a rescue was not necessary.
Cold, rainy weather engulfed the face of El Capitan on the morning of 10/01/06 raising the concerns of SAR personnel. Due to the team’s obvious inexperience and ongoing poor weather conditions, SAR continued to monitor the progress of this team until they completed the route three days later.
- SAR # 06-194
Cables Route, Half Dome, Yosemite Valley- On 10/1/06 multiple 911 cell phone transfers were received by Yosemite Park Dispatch regarding a person that had slipped outside of the cables on Half Dome and had slid 100-150 feet down onto the blank face. The victim was precariously lying on the face, using only the fiction of his body against the rock to stop him from falling a fatal distance.
Ranger Katie Lyons from Little Yosemite Valley and a technical SAR team from YosemiteValley were immediately dispatched to the incident location. The Yosemite Rescue/Fire Helicopter was unavailable, so a primary rescue team was put on standby to await the arrival of another helicopter to fly resources to the shoulder of half dome.
Sequoia and Kings Canyon Helicopter (H-552) responded to the request for mutual aid assistance, and was the first ship available for the mission. Unfortunately, due to delayed helicopter availability, more than two hours had passed before technical rescuers were on scene. SAR Technician David Pope and SAR Siter Scott Ring rapelled down to the stranded individual and evacuated the victim from the face. He was treated for hypothermia and later released from the Yosemite Medical Clinic with no significant injuries.
- SAR # 06-195
Union Point, Four Mile Trail, Yosemite Valley- On 10/1/06 at almost the same time as the Half Dome SAR was being reported the Park Emergency Dispatch Center received an additional SAR request from an individual who had lost the trail and had become ledged out and stranded above the switchbacks of the four mile trail. The victim was unable to move from his location due to the steep cliffs below and the dense brush above.
H-552 from Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park inserted a rescuer near to the victim’s location and with the assistance of other technical SAR resources they were able to evacuate the hiker from the site.
- SAR # 06-196
Upper Yosemite Falls Trail, Yosemite Valley- On 10/1/06 at approximately 1600 hours Park Emergency Dispatch received a SAR request from a woman with a lower leg injury who was requesting assistance on the Upper Yosemite Falls Trail. An EMS/Carry-Out team was formed from resources that had previously been assigned to the other incidents. The patient’s injuries required that she be carried in a litter to the trailhead, and then transported by NPS Ambulance R-5 to the Yosemite Medical Clinic.