Two overdue climbers were plucked from the side of Laurel Mountain near Convict Lake south of Mammoth by a helicopter Sunday after they became stuck in loose rock and spent the night in the wilderness.
The climbers, a couple age 31 and 32 from Oakland were climbing the northeast gully on Saturday. They were reported missing by friends when they failed to return.
Searchers looked on Saturday night, but couldn’t spot them. They determined they would need a helicopter on Sunday.
After several hours of searching on Sunday, the couple was found by a spotting scope from Convict Lake. They were off the trail and halfway up the mountain. A National Guard helicopter from Mather was able to get close enough to fly in and rescue the couple and the search and rescue climbers, according to Mono County spokeswoman Jennifer Hansen.
The overdue climbers were dehydrated but otherwise uninjured.
“The climbing in the northeast gully is not technically difficult, but the route is long and requires good route finding skills and experience,” Hansen said. “Off-route, the rock becomes loose and the terrain is steeper. Per the Mono County Sheriff Search and Rescue team, there have been two other rescues on this route in the last 10 years due to climbers becoming stranded in steep, loose terrain. The Mono County Sheriff SAR team would like to remind climbers to not be deceived by the easy technical rating of this route and to gain experience on shorter alpine routes before attempting this climb.”