Mono searchers rescue climber despite 2-ton rock and smoke
A climber who had a 2-ton granite slab pin his leg to a boulder near Conness Glacier was rescued on Sunday after passing hikers heard his cries and called for help.
According to the Mono County Sheriff’s Office, the climber was making his way up a talus pile in the Sierra above Mono Lake when the slab he was on gave way and pinned his leg.
He screamed for help until two hikers found him and were able to signal two other hikers who called for help.
A dozen Mono County searchers geared up at the Saddlebag Lake trailhead while authorities worked to get a helicopter into the area.
Heavy smoke from the Ferguson Fire burning along the west side of Yosemite prevented a California Highway Patrol helicopter from responding. However, the California National Guard diverted a Blackhawk helicopter working the fire to the rescue.
About three hours after the call was initially received, searchers had made contact with the hikers who guided them to the climber.
They said they were a short distance from the climber when they heard him yelling. They provided basic first aid to control the bleeding and stayed with him until help arrived.
Searchers rigged a rope system to move the slab enough to free the climber. Searchers used three mechanical advantage rope systems to move the rock and were able using their own strength move the slab enough to free the man’s leg.
He was hoisted to the National Guard helicopter and then flown to Lee Vining Airport, which was socked in by smoke.
The man was driven to Bridgeport by ambulance, which met Careflight. He was taken to Reno for treatment.
Searchers offered their thanks to the cooperating agencies and to the people who stayed with the man and those who provided a good location for where the initial incident occurred.