3 Stranded Hikers and an Injured Ankle

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Every year, the Mountain Rescue Volunteers undergo two tests.  The first test insures that each member is sufficient in their technical rigging skills while the second is a physical test that measures each member's level of fitness.  Our goal is to be the best that we can be and these tests serve as an internal check and balance system that measures whether or not we're on our game.

This year, the team conducted these tests at Red Rock.  Normally our annual tests are predictable,  however, this year proved to be a little different.

Just as half of the team finished with the skills portion of the test, a call came in with a report of 3 hikers who were stranded near the peak of Mt. Charleston.  One of the hikers had fallen and severely injured their ankle.  As the details came in, two pilots from the Air Unit quickly flew the Huey to Red Rock to pick up one officer and two volunteers to respond to the call.

The first attempt to reach the stranded hikers proved to be extremely challenging.  Not only were they located at a high elevation, but they were in a spot that saw extremely windy conditions.  After several attempts, the winds prevailed and the initial attempt to reach the group was postponed in hopes of improved weather.  As the Huey flew the officer and volunteers back to Red Rock, it was determined that the entire team would potentially be needed to hike to the stranded hikers.

As the Huey landed at Red Rock, the Mountain Rescue team assembled and caravanned to Mt. Charleston.  It was also determined that the 500, our smaller helicopter, may be more effective in the extreme weather conditions.  Although the 3 hikers had cell phone reception and had communicated that they were preparing to spend the night, the goal of the rescue team was to get them off of the mountain before sundown.

After an approximate 2 hour delay, the 500 was able to successfully land close to the hikers, dropping off an officer to help.  In the end, 3 hikers and one dog were extracted from the mountain with the only injury being an injured ankle.  All of this was successfully accomplished before the sun set and temperatures plummeted near the peak of Mt. Charleston.

Here's the view of the trail as volunteers hiked White Rock Loop in full rescue gear.

A volunteer going through the skills test.

And the next thing you know, a call comes in.  This is a photo of the first group en route to Mt. Charleston in the Huey.  Erin, a Las Vegas Weekly reporter, came out to do a story on our Unit.  Her timing couldn't have been better as she rode along in the Huey to get a glimpse of what we do first-hand.

The 500 at Mt. Charleston just before take off.

Mountain Rescue volunteers in full gear, ready to respond.

It goes to show that there's never a dull moment!