Tahoe Nordic Search & Rescue, Inc. Tahoe Nordic Search & Rescue, Inc.

TNSAR Search 11/03/2018

Peak Bagger out of Blue Lakes

Submitted by Sarah Krammen

On Saturday, October 27th, a 55 year old man left his vehicle at Evergreen Trailhead at the end of the Blue Lakes road and began a peak bagging hike to an unknown destination. He was reported missing that evening when he did not contact his wife. Our own Matt Jacobs worked tirelessly all week scouring maps and helping coordinate search crews in the region. On Friday, November 2nd, a callout was made to TNSAR to aid in the search.

The next morning, three searchers (Dirk, Troy and I) made our way to Markleeville with Deputy Ken White. We arrived at the Command Post at 7 am, where more than 100 other searchers were also waiting. After briefing, we received our assignment to search the East and Northeast faces of Peak 9626. Matt Jacobs believed this was possibly the first peak on the hiker’s list that day. We quickly left in the team truck and drove to Upper Blue Lake.

Around 9 am, we began hiking from the Evergreen Trailhead to the base of Peak 9626. Once we arrived at the base, our meticulous search began in the lowest zone with a long sweeping trek across the foot of a cliff band, through skree fields and down steep rocky ledges. This sweep led us across to a large rocky knoll, where we ran into the lost hiker’s nephew. He gave us a lot of good information about his uncle and we parted ways. We continued our rock scramble up the eastern rocky face to the “middle bowl.” We continued our search by zig-zagging upwards to the top of the large, rocky bowl through golden grasses and clumps of low trees. Near the top, we were able to hike up a large ramp to the “top bowl.”

This last search region dropped us into the shadow of Peak 9626 and the wind picked up. We layered up and started the last ascent to the peak. About 300 feet below the summit, Dirk spotted something blue below him. He immediately called us over to come investigate. We closed in on the blue tarp that Dirk had spotted and shortly after the victim was located, deceased.

It appeared that he had fallen 150-200’ and had multiple major injuries. His pack had burst open and spilled the blue tarp, which is what was first seen. At 2:25 command was notified and we were instructed to standby until they could get a deputy on scene via helicopter. Due to a miscommunication of coordinates in the CP the helo did not arrive for an hour and a half but when it did, 3 deputies were winched down from the hovering craft. They brought body bags to the scene and we helped them carry the victim down to a spot where evacuation could occur.

We planned to catch a helicopter ride out but as the sun started to go down and all of us were still waiting for transport we decided the smart thing to do was make the long hike out and leave helo seats for the deputies. We were back at the trailhead at 7 pm.

Ken White
Sarah Krammen
Dirk Schoonmaker
Troy Corliss

Matt Jacobs Search Manager

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