Climbers stranded in snow on Mt. Whitney

Inyo Search and Rescue shown on an earlier mission.

Inyo Search and Rescue shown on an earlier mission.

On October 9, 2013, Inyo County Search and Rescue received a call regarding two overdue climbers. According to the report, the climbers were doing a day climb on the east face of Mt Whitney and were unable to make their way off the mountain by the time the sun went down. One of the climbers was able to text his wife the evening of the 8th and let her know they would continue climbing down at first light. The two climbers found a cave to hunker down for the night and get out of the elements.

The next morning, a storm came in and dumped almost two feet of snow on Mt. Whitney; the climbers were now stuck on a cliff and could not get down. One of the climbers was able to text his wife with the coordinates of their location.

Early in the morning on October 10th CHP helicopter H80 flew to the climbers location. H80 landed one skid on a cliff which allowed the climbers to get inside the helicopter. The two climbers were flown to the Lone Pine Airport where they were treated and released.

In related news, the Sheriff’s Office reports that about 20 members of the Inyo County volunteer Search And Rescue team were trained on helicopter safety skills Saturday at the Bishop airport. CHP H40 crew out of Fresno provided hands-on training. Volunteers are always needed to join the search and rescue team. Stop by the Sheriff’s Posse Hut on Airport Road in Bishop during the Inyo County SAR monthly meetings the first and third Thursday of every month at 7pm.

13 Responses to Climbers stranded in snow on Mt. Whitney

  1. Sean October 15, 2013 at 7:04 pm #

    If you buy a Spot satellite rescue beacon you can also buy SAR insurance as an add on for about $100 to $200 a year as I recall. It covers the cost of evac extraction up to $50k twice a year ANYWHERE in the world. I buy it Specifically for covering the helicopter costs.

    If you are injured and first responders call for a helo due to your injury your medical insurance may cover that depending on your policy. That is different from a SAR helo ride since there are no medical bills.

    And there are new satellite based devices coming out every year now. Costs keep dropping on the device and service. The newer ones allow sat based text messaging which is way better than just a 911 button.

    These devices can also be put in track mode so your position is uploaded to a map every 10 minutes or so. This feature is super handy if you go missing. SAR knows where to start looking.

  2. Mongo The Idiot October 15, 2013 at 3:30 pm #

    This is all I could find.
    $16,000 plus mileage and services.
    It does mention patients and insurance in the article.

  3. Tourbillon October 15, 2013 at 12:51 pm #

    Landed one skid on a cliff? That is a sporty move by one intrepid pilot. If the climbers have enough money left over after they pay the bill, which should come to no more than several thousand dollars, they should buy that guy a beer.

  4. Eastern Sierra Local October 15, 2013 at 11:25 am #

    I hope that these two climbers plan on making a donation to the Inyo Mono SAR team.

  5. Mongo The Idiot October 15, 2013 at 10:18 am #

    I just want to know the answers, these aren’t loaded questions.
    If a person gets stranded and needs a helicopter who pays for it?
    What does it cost? Is the service a free benefit of our tax system?
    Does health insurance pay? Would Obamacare bronze cover half the cost with the rescued paying the balance? What if you cant pay, do they take your house? What if they come and you don’t want to be rescued, can you refuse?

    • Benett Kessler October 15, 2013 at 11:32 am #

      The rescued people receive a bill for the helicopter.

      • not really... October 15, 2013 at 8:25 pm #

        The SO will send a bill to the rescued party’s county if there’s a mutual aide agreement. Unpaid bills are usually eaten by the rescue county.

    • sugar magnolia October 15, 2013 at 11:58 am #

      I guess you really are an idiot Mongo…..what would being stranded in the mountains and needing a helicopter rescue have to do with healthcare/insurance?

      • Benett Kessler October 15, 2013 at 12:08 pm #

        I think Mongo was just exploring how the helicopter might be paid for.

      • Mongo The Idiot October 15, 2013 at 1:24 pm #

        Sugar, are you servin’ sweet and sour today?
        I love the outdoors and have always wondered what it would cost for a helicopter rescue.
        About the healthcare issue; A stranded person in the snow could be suffering from frostbite, isn’t that a health care related issue?
        An injured person needing an airlift to a hospital; isn’t that a health issue?
        The stranded hikers in this story; did they get dropped off at Jenny’s Diner, or the hospital?

    • Wayne Deja October 15, 2013 at 1:48 pm #

      Mongo…..Don’t think they can actually “bill” you for the rescue….maybe if you didn’t have a permit to climb Mt. Whitney and did it anyway,and needed a rescue…..but even then would be hard to do…thinking these helicopter rescues are really expensive.One of my bosses’ had a fall up in Cerro Gordo about 10 years ago and got hurt really bad and needed a rescue….and what they did was not bill him for it,but rather ask for a donation for their time and effort,which he gave.I don’t think SAR can demand a payment for services…..if they do,or did,I’m thinking a lot of people needing assistance would maybe refuse it over getting thousands of dollars in debt for something they didn’t really ask for or maybe figured they could get out of on their own.They have a website called Panamint that debates this issue whether someone should pay for a rescue or not,and how it could cause more problems if it were that way and how it could back-fire on all those involved.

      • Tsinipla October 15, 2013 at 8:12 pm #

        Have heard that counties have reciprocal SAR agreements or can charge the county you live in for rescue?

        • RandyK October 16, 2013 at 11:13 am #

          There’s a state statute that requires the person’s home county to reimburse the rescuing county for the cost of the rescue. Many counties do not pay so the rescuing county eats the cost.


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