An injured hiker was rescued after trying to cross a snowfield without proper equipment, California rescuers say.
While hiking in Inyo National Forest on Sept. 8, the man found a trail “covered by a snowfield from last winter and tried to cross the snow without crampons or an ice axe,” Inyo County Search and Rescue said in a Sept. 20 Facebook post.
“He slipped, tumbled, lost about half of his gear, and eventually hit a rock wall that stopped the fall but also broke his leg,” rescuers said.
The hiker ended up below Shepherd Pass about “11 miles up a steep and only somewhat maintained ‘trail,’” according to rescuers.
Multiple agencies responded to search for the hiker.
The team determined “crossing the snowfield was too dangerous” even with crampons and ice axes, rescuers said.
Instead, rescuers said they climbed down “a steep chute from the pass,” avoiding the snow, and then climbed up to the hiker “from the bottom of the slope.”
When the team reached the man at around 1 a.m., he was “mildly hypothermic,” rescuers said. The team “warmed him up and stabilized his injuries.”
“The team and patient then hunkered down for a sleepless night, during which they experienced a thunderstorm, sleet, rain, snow and gusty winds,” rescuers said.
As dawn approached on Sept. 9, rescuers said they placed the man on a stretcher and lowered him “away from the rock wall and into open terrain,” where a California Highway Patrol helicopter airlifted him from the area to a hospital.
All rescuers made it out of the field by 2 p.m., according to rescuers.
Rescuers urged others to not “cross any snowfields without traction on your feet and an ice axe in hand.”
“Our patient is lucky he survived to tell the story,” rescuers said.
Inyo National Forest is in Bishop, about 80 miles northeast of Fresno.