Mono County SAR’s Rescue Climber on Mt. Dana

Mt. Dana

(Press Release from Mono County Sheriff– Rescue of Climber on Mount Dana)

On July 19, 2020, at 11:30 am, the Mono County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) Search and Rescue (SAR) Team was called to assist a climber on the Third Pillar of Dana. The climber had taken a lead fall and suffered various injuries. The SAR Team staged at the Lee Vining airport and began assembling gear. California Highway Patrol (CHP) helicopter H40 was requested as an aerial resource.

Several field teams drove to Tioga Lake and the trailhead for Glacier Canyon, which leads to the use trail to the top of the Dana Third Pillar. Carrying fairly light packs, the field teams quickly made their way to the top of the Third Pillar, where they built a lowering system to lower a team member and litter to the subject at the top of the third pitch, approximately 300 feet below the summit.


SARS member readying for rescue

The subject was assessed, treated and packaged in the litter, then the rigging team at the top converted the lowering system to a 7:1  mechanical advantage raising system and hauled the subject and attendant back to the summit. CHP H40 had arrived and was able to land on the Dana Plateau. The subject was carried to the A-Star, and CHP delivered the subject to Mono County medics waiting at the Lee Vining airport. The subject was transported to Mammoth Hospital for further treatment.

The rigging team converted back to a descent configuration, and a team member was lowered to assist the injured climber’s partner. The rigging team converted to a raising system and hauled both to the summit. The injured party’s partner hiked out with the SAR Team, who departed after dismantling their rigging systems. Sixteen Team members responded to this call and volunteered 172 hours. The rescue lasted nearly 11 hours, ending at approximately 10 pm.

Rescue on Mt. Dana by Mono County Sheriff SARS.

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11 Responses to Mono County SAR’s Rescue Climber on Mt. Dana

  1. RandyK July 23, 2020 at 9:25 am #

    Perhaps there is a better solution than expecting a cashed strapped county to spend large amounts of money on helicopter time and training to rescue people engaging in inherently dangerous activities which provide no benefit to anyone. That might be to require people climbing in the county to carry rescue insurance to fund their own rescue. This is done in many places and would be an unselfish way to protect yourself.

    • Dee July 23, 2020 at 12:07 pm #

      People are issued citations for negligence and fined on a somewhat regular basis in some parts of the USA, rescue insurance, or not.
      But most people, like Charlotte, don’t have a clue about any of this to begin with.
      There was a time when the cost of rescues wasn’t even an issue, but especially if the victim(a) is negligent, they need to be cited to appear in court and be held accountable and responsible for their actions.

      • Hans July 23, 2020 at 3:33 pm #

        Worth noting that search and rescue here is a volunteer operation under the sheriff’s dept—who can bill other California counties for expenses if the victim is from CA. Helicopter is CHP so owned by the state budget, when its a military helicopter they eat the cost as training. Actual costs to local taxpayers is pretty trivial for a rescue like this.

        Now as for wasting volunteer’s time or potentially exposing them to Covid, this is obviously a good time to dial it way down in the backcountry. To Charlotte’s point, it would be great to have a local helicopter designated for search and rescue and paid professional staff just like Yosemite and the Tetons and all of the Alps. I’d be stoked to pay a yearly fee for coverage.

        • Dee July 27, 2020 at 3:32 pm #

          No, Hans, the cost is not trivial by any means whatsoever.

        • Dee July 27, 2020 at 3:41 pm #

          Mono County doesn’t have the budget, but it’s the same for Inyo as well.

        • RandyK July 28, 2020 at 9:08 am #

          Theoretically you are correct that the rescuing county can bill the climber’s home county. However, that system does not work and would still cost the home county a fortune if it did. The majority of home counties stopped paying for rescues many years ago and there is no usable way to collect.

  2. quacque July 23, 2020 at 1:29 am #

    Mark Twain said something like “It’s better to stay quiet and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.” Words to live by, Charlotte.

  3. Charlotte July 22, 2020 at 10:43 pm #

    11 hours to rescue someone? Exactly the scenario where a trained helicopter-rescue team might have been able to extract the victim in 15 minutes with effective cable hoist techniques. Trauma care and the “Golden Hour” is either unknown in your community or the community simply doesn’t care……

    • Want to fundraise? July 23, 2020 at 8:56 am #

      Hey Charlotte if you can provide the funds for Mono County to have a dedicated SAR helicopter and pilot that would be terrific! It could even be shared with Inyo County. Then the local SAR teams and the injured people they are there to help won’t have wait for an out of area helicopter, when one is available. The helicopters that can handle low flying at high altitudes in treacherous terrain with frequent wind and their well trained pilots are not always available to come to our area.

    • Inyo Citizen July 23, 2020 at 10:15 am #

      This comment is just one more example of why we should all *love* the internet.

      • Harold July 23, 2020 at 10:56 am #

        Or why we should all love the opinions of people that dont live in the community shes blasting.


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