At 19:00 on Saturday, March 23, the team received a call about a hiker who fell 500 feet while glissading above Trail Camp and sustained an 8 inch laceration to the head. Seven members headed out from the trailhead. It was clear and warmer than we expected, with a moon to light our way for much of the journey. We found conditions on the trail to be fairly good, with well-tracked snow up to Muir Lake, after which point crampons were helpful. Our hasty team made it to the patient and his friend at Trail Camp at around 0200, and the rest of the team arrived with gear at 0230.
The patient was fully alert and oriented and the bleeding from his head had stopped. His right leg was also injured in the fall, but our assessment revealed no broken bones, no loss of consciousness, and no spine pain or tenderness. The patient, an EMT, declined spinal immobilization and was willing to hike out immediately. We divided the patient’s gear between us and started the hike down at about 0400.
It was a long hike out, but the team was cheerful and motivated and the patient made great time in spite of his injuries. At Lone Pine Lake we were joined by an Inyo SAR teammate who helped us carry the extra gear. We got to see a beautiful sunrise and made it back to the trailhead by 0900.
The Whitney season has begun, judging by the number of cars in the Portal parking lot. If you’re attempting a winter ascent, please carry the appropriate gear and be safe!