Earlier this month, a lone hiker in California’s High Sierras had to be rescued after suffering a leg injury in a fall. The hiker had attempted to ascend Shepherd Pass on September 8th but encountered a snowfield leftover from the previous winter, making the trail impassable, as reported by Inyo County Search and Rescue in a statement on Wednesday.
Without the necessary gear of crampons or an ice ax, the hiker decided to attempt crossing the snowfield, resulting in a slip and subsequent tumble down the trail. During the fall, the hiker lost about half of their gear and ultimately hit a rock wall, breaking their leg in the process.
Fortunately, the hiker was able to call for help, stating that their location was approximately 11,800 feet up in the High Sierras and 11 miles along a steep and somewhat maintained trail. In response, rescuers were assembled and inserted into Shepherd Pass via helicopter, coordinating with rangers from Sequoia Kings Canyon National Parks.
Upon evaluating the situation, the team deemed it too dangerous to cross the snowfield, even with the appropriate gear. Instead, they decided to descend a steep chute from the pass, avoiding the snow and approaching the injured hiker from the bottom of the slope.
Around 1 a.m., rescuers reached the injured hiker, who was found to be mildly hypothermic. They provided warmth, stabilized the injury, and prepared for an arduous night ahead as they endured a thunderstorm, sleet, rain, snow, and gusty winds.
When morning arrived, the hiker was carefully placed into a lightweight stretcher and lowered away from the rock wall. This allowed a helicopter to safely pick them up and transport them to a hospital in Lone Pine. Unfortunately, there was no immediate update on the hiker’s condition.
The rescue team faced their own challenges, descending about 1,000 feet into Shepherd Canyon before being shuttled back to Lone Pine. By 2 p.m., all rescuers had successfully left the field. Inyo SAR took the opportunity to remind hikers of the importance of proper foot traction and carrying an ice ax when attempting to cross snowfields, emphasizing the hiker’s fortunate survival throughout the ordeal.