On the evening of August 8, 2015 a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) device was set off requesting immediate helicopter evacuation for a patient with unknown injuries. The GPS coordinates placed the alert just below Jigsaw Pass in a Palisades subrange, just east of Mt Agassiz. A couple of hours later, another PLB message was received saying one word: fatality. An hour later, one last PLB message was received stating the patient was unresponsive but breathing.
Inyo SAR was dispatched and two members started up the Bishop Pass trail around at 2125. The objective for the evening was to arrive at the location of the first PLB coordinate and make pt contact. At 2300, the rescuers encountered the first member of the party of the injured person along the trail. The member informed rescuers that the injured person was a female in her mid fifties who took an estimated 40 foot tumbling fall while descending from Jigsaw Pass. The friend was last seen approximately 500ft below the pass in a narrow gully. The location of the scene was marked with several pieces of brightly colored clothing/gear. The pt was immediately unresponsive but breathing. Her condition was unchanged after nearly two hours at which point the friend who was encountered on the trail separated to try to find additional resources. Rescuers continued up the trail and at 01:30 arrived at the location of the first PLB coordinate. No clues were found at the location of the coordinate, nor were the pt or the friends. Sound checks were carried out regularly since nightfall with no success. With no further leads, rescuers made camp at approximately 0245.
At 0600, rescuers awoke and were surprised to see several pieces of brightly colored clothing in a narrow gully less than a few hundred yards from their location. Immediately after making this discovery, the last two members of the pt’s party were found to be camping no more than 200 feet from the rescuer’s bivy location. Contact was made with the two friends and they reported pt had stopped breathing on her own the previous evening around 1900. Rescuers arrived at the pt soon thereafter and confirmed that she was deceased.
Around 0630, a third Inyo SAR member arrived near Long Lake and was able to provide radio communication to Dispatch and confirm that CHP Helicopter H80 would be responding around 0700. The body was located in a very unstable scree gully which emptied out into a basin of large boulders. H80 did not have short haul capabilities and evacuation of the body to a helicopter LZ would be necessary. Several technical rope systems were needed in order to get the body to the LZ site. From the site of the incident, the body and one rescuer were lowered on a tensioned line for a full 70m rope down the steepest and loosest part of the gully. The body was then carried for approximately 15m or so to the base of a large boulder. From here, an approximately 50m guide line was rigged across a shallow ravine at the base of the gully and the body was attached to the line and assisted across the ravine by a rescuer. From this point it was another 25m carry to the helicopter.
Inyo SAR extends its deepest condolences to the friends and family of the victim and thanks CHP H80 for their invaluable air support.