YOSEMITE — Two lost hikers likely owe their lives to the skilled efforts of Yosemite National Park rangers, Search & Rescue personnel and the CHP after they were unable to find their way in the snow and had to call for help.
At approximately 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 15, Yosemite National Park Emergency Communications Center received a 911 call from two stranded male visitors hiking in the North Dome area of the park.
Park rangers and Search & Rescue personnel attempted to reach the hikers that night, but were unable to make contact due to darkness, rain, sleet and fog, and the technical terrain.
According to park officials, the two hikers from England, both in their mid-20s, had become lost in the snow while hiking in the area of North Dome.
Early in the morning of Wednesday, Jan. 16, with the assistance of Helicopter H40 from the California Highway Patrol in Fresno, staffed with Pilot Officer Scott Rodda and Flight Officer/Paramedic Dustin Henschel, the search for the two men began.
H40 started their search in the last known location of the hikers, and after a short reconnaissance, the crew was able to locate the two individuals wedged within a crevasse on the east side on North Dome.
According to the pair of hikers, as they attempted to descend into Yosemite Valley they lost the trail in the snow and became trapped in a crevasse. Unable to continue down due to a 2,000 foot vertical drop, and unable to go back the way they came because of the steep, snow covered ground, they called 911 from a cell phone.
After locating the hikers, H40 landed in Ahwahnee Meadow to meet with Yosemite National Park Search & Rescue and devise a plan. After discussing the impending severe winter storm that was due to arrive, it was decided that a rapid insertion of two Yosemite National Park Rescue Team members would be the fastest and safest means of rescuing the stranded backpackers.
The two team members were inserted with rescue gear that enabled them to reach the victims and raise them out of the crevasse to a safe and relatively flat location, above the cliff where they had slept overnight.
Once the two hikers were packaged in rescue harnesses, H40 returned and hoisted out each victim one at a time. They were then transported to Ahwahnee Meadow where Yosemite National Park paramedics were staged to receive and treat the two cold and wet visitors.
Yosemite National Park would like to extend its sincere gratitude to CHP – Central Division Air Operations and specifically the H40 crew for their integral assistance in this technical rescue.
The Yosemite National Park emergency response team consisted of unpaid NPS employees during a government shutdown.
(Photo credit Josh Helling)