Rescuers in Fresno CHP helicopter save stranded couple in Sierra

The Fresno BeeApril 27, 2014 

A Utah couple injured high in the Sierra Nevada was saved by rescuers flying in a Fresno-based California Highway Patrol helicopter on Saturday.

The CHP said the Inyo County Sheriff's Department at about 4 p.m. asked Central Division Air Operations for help in finding a female ice climber who had broken a leg in a fall. The victim was reported to be west of Red Lake at an elevation of about 12,000 feet.

A helicopter was dispatched from Fresno.

Searchers in the helicopter found the victim, 49, and her male climbing partner, 52. The helicopter landed in Big Pine for reconfiguring, then returned to the scene. The rescuers had to deal with up-and-down drafts, blowing snow and strong winds.

The rescuers took the two climbers to Big Pine, where ambulances were waiting. The male climber had sustained a head injury.

The climbers said they were climbing an ice chute when the female fell, pulling her partner with her down the chute.

Both climbers sustained moderate to major injuries, the CHP said. The Salt Lake City couple would not have survived the night due to low temperatures and wind chill, the CHP said.

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6272 or ghostetter@fresnobee.com. Read his City Beat blog at fresnobee.com/city-beat.

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