Eastern Sierra busy with rescues

Man bucked off mule, has to be airlifted out of backcountry

A Bakersfield man who was bucked off a mule and injured had to be airlifted out of the Mt. Whitney area backcountry June 24 after his injuries left him unable to walk.

At about 9:20 a.m., Inyo County Sheriff’s dispatch received notification that a SPOT device had been activated with the approximate coordinates of Little Whitney Meadow, west of Lone Pine, on the west side of the Sierra crest south and west of Mt. Whitney. 

Seth Baker, 29, was camping with six friends when he was bucked off his mule while racing their mules across a meadow.

Baker hit the ground with the left side of his body, and attempted to “walk off the pain.”

By the next day, Baker was unable to move. One of the campers had a SPOT device and activated it for help. 

California Highway Patrol helicopter H80, out of Apple Valley, responded to Baker’s location, and transported him to the Lone Pine Airport where he was met by an ambulance to transport him to Southern Inyo Hospital for treatment.


Four-wheelers stranded on Wheeler Ridge, airlifted out

A grandfather and his grandson who got their vehicle stranded in the sand near Wheeler Ridge on June 23 had to be airlifted out of the backcountry after the grandfather was too fatigued to walk out, according to the Inyo County Sheriff’s Department.

David Cooper, 64, from Sacramento and Nicholas Andrade, 24, from Northridge, got stuck on Wheeler Ridge Road—a steep non-paved road above Rock Creek that leads to Wheeler Crest.

According to Andrade, Cooper wanted to show him the area. They began their drive on Wheeler Ridge Road on June 23. Andrade said Cooper asked him to drive because he was feeling tired. 

Andrade, who was unfamiliar with rough backcountry roads, got the truck stuck in a sandy patch and the truck began to slide slightly down the mountain.

Cooper and Andrade both exited the vehicle. Not knowing what to do, they camped overnight near Cooper’s truck.

 The next morning, Cooper was feeling weak and tired. Andrade walked down Wheeler Ridge Road until he was able to get mobile phone service and call for help.

CHP H80 transported Cooper and Andrade to the Bishop airport where Symons Emergency Services transported Cooper to Northern Inyo Hospital for medical evaluation.


Backpacker stranded on cliff is rescued

A backpacker who was stuck on a cliff near the Sonora Pass area on June 21 but was uninjured was rescued by both helicopter and ground search and rescue teams after she was unable to get off the cliff unaided.

While on a three-day backpacking trip in the area above Leavitt Lake, the woman slid down a snowfield just west of the Mono County/Tuolumne County border, about six miles south of S.R. 108, the Sonora Pass Road.

 Due to her precarious situation on the edge of a cliff, her climbing partner called via cell-phone for assistance.

Search and rescue teams and a California Highway Patrol H40 helicopter from Fresno were dispatched to the scene. Two members of a Tuolumne County search and rescue team were inserted by a Tuolumne County helicopter onto the cliff right before the sun set on Saturday evening.

In the meantime, Mono County Search and Rescue team members hiked to the scene during the night to bring additional rescue gear and overnight gear to all rescue personnel.

On the morning of Sunday, June 22, all parties hiked out to the search and rescue base at Leavitt Lake.