Tip Top SAR responded to 21 calls

From Kenna Tanner, Tip Top Search and Rescue
Posted 10/18/23

Tip Top Search and Rescue (SAR) manager Kenna Tanner provided this “missions” report of 21 incidents from Aug. 15 through Sept. 30 to the Board of Sublette County Commissioners at its regular meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 3.

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Tip Top SAR responded to 21 calls


SUBLETTE COUNTY – Tip Top Search and Rescue (SAR) manager Kenna Tanner provided this “missions” report of 21 incidents from Aug. 15 through Sept. 30 to the Board of Sublette County Commissioners at its regular meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 3. The county’s leased helicopter is referred to as “30G” in her report.

Mission 23-21-23

Aug. 15, 20:00 p.m. Little Seneca, 3 members responded and 30G was activated. Sick 31-year-old female, vomiting for 30+ hours, GI bug suspected. Monitored through the night, then flown to Pinedale Medical Clinic at daylight on 8/16.

Mission 23-22-23

Aug. 20, 20:50 p.m. Boulder Lake Trailhead, 1 member responded. SCSO Deputy 23-26 responded to trailhead parking lot. Wife called for overdue party that rode horseback to set up hunting camp. Deputy found party in parking lot loading horses. Said they had had mule/horse issues, delaying exit.

Mission 23-23-23

8/21, 11:00 a.m., 9 members responded. 30G activated, Big Sandy Trail. 75-year-old male bucked off horse, unconscious. SAR paged to assist with getting injured to trailhead and awaiting life flight helicopter. Plan was to fly SAR to location, but stood down before team was inserted. Party and U.S. Forest Service had gotten man to helicopter.

Mission 23-24-23

Aug. 21-24, 17:00 p.m., 15 members responded. 30G activated. Wall Lake to Angel Pass. Help requested from family of John Diapholz, as he should have ended his trip on Aug. 16 – beginning on Aug. 5. He had emailed a rough itinerary to his family, but was known to wander around. He commented he may hike out via unnamed lake “10915.” Aerial searching, ground teams interviewing everyone on Pole Creek Trail to Highline Trail; teams inserted to falls above Upper Cook Lake to rule out public clue of a “smell.” Many phone calls from public of possible sightings from Ridleys to Upper Titcomb Lake. He was found on third search day – fatal fall in the cirque where the mentioned lake was. SCSO Deputy 23-45 found pictures taken on his camera on the evening of Aug. 13. Theory was he started descent towards lake the morning of Aug. 14, then would begin walking out. Body was long-lined to Pinedale Airport for County Coroner.

Mission 23-25-23

Aug. 22, 19:00 p.m. No action taken by members. Elkhart Park to Indian Basin. Mother called concerned she hadn’t heard from her son via Inreach on a daily basis. The following morning the son reached out to mother stating he was fine and wasn’t scheduled to exit Wind River Range until Aug. 25 and to “CALL OFF” SAR.

Mission 23-26-23

Aug. 25, 17:30 p.m., 6 members responded. 30G activated. Titcomb Lakes/Gannett Peak. Overdue climbers attempting summit of Gannett; not carrying gear for overnight exposure

Inreach activated by third party hiking by. Communication established that Reporting Party was at base camp and was waiting for male and female climbers last seen going over Bonney Pass in the a.m., due back by 14:00. Plans to fly at first light. 30G landed at camp coordinates and all three members were in the tent; no assistance was needed. They arrived late and had planned to hike out to call SAR to stand down on response.

Mission 23-27-23

Aug. 26, 12:30 a.m., 5 members responded. West of Dinwoody Peak, moving west. Assisting Outside Agency (AOA), Fremont County for SOS alert with no communication with device or party. As plans were made for team to be flown to coordinates, IERCC informed Tip Top SAR that coordinates were moving. After third set of coordinates pinned, confirmed party was walking at appropriate pace, Fremont County undersheriff ordered TTSAR to stand down. Assuming party had inadvertently activated SOS.

Mission 23-28-23

Aug. 27, 09:00 a.m., 8 members responded. 30G activated. Gannett Peak. Fremont County informed us an SOS Inreach activated just west of Gannett Peak, stating fallen climber and unknown whereabouts or life status. Weather was bad – winds, lightning, rain. Communication established through Inreach with partner that had descended to the base camp. Climbers Micky Martin and Jason Graves started at Green River Lakes Trailhead, camping above Scott Lake via Tourist Creek on Aug. 26. Early-morning approach found both men facing declining weather and the rush to summit and be back to camp by 10:30 ultimately didn’t pay off for Jason Graves. Both had summited, but Jason was slower than Mickey so when Mickey heard rock fall, a scream and then a “thud,” Mickey wasn’t sure which direction Jason fell. The weather held off insertion of SAR until 14:00. The aerial team searched both sides of Gannett, not locating the fallen. Search efforts were hindered by winds and distance from the peak. Mickey was picked up and flown back to Pinedale. Interview and planning created a plan for Aug. 28 to again search both sides of Gannett with favorable weather expected. Prior to launch, Garmin was able to send the last three pins from Jason’s Mini that showed no movement. Upon first pass, 30G and crew located J. Graves at the coordinates on Gannett Glacier about 800 feet below the summit. Fremont County informed of location of the body and confirmation through photos that man was deceased. Fremont County was successful at removing the body with the help of the Park Service helicopter and crew that was in the area already assisting with two short-haul rescues in the Grasshopper Creek area.

Mission 23-29-23

Aug. 27, 14:30 p.m., SCSO deputy checked parking lot, Big Sandy Trailhead. Report from friends that female in hiking party had turned around due to altitude sickness but had never returned to the trailhead and called her friends. SCSO Deputy 23-27 searched the parking lot and overflow area, not finding the reported vehicle they had brought. The next morning friends received word from her that she had successfully returned to the parking lot and left in said vehicle to spend the night and return to the parking lot to pick up the rest of the hiking party to return to Colorado. No action taken by SAR members.

Mission 23-30-23

Aug. 28, 14:00, 1 member responded, 30G activated. Assisting Fremont County, Grasshopper Creek extrication. Fremont County called for helicopter extrication of its team in the area due to fatigue and distance from trailhead after assisting with the rescue of two individuals, including their own co-commander, who suffered a tib-fib fracture in the field. 30G and heli manager flew to coordinates and extricated 6 LSAR members to Lander Airport.

Mission 23-31-23

Sept. 2, 16:30 p.m., 2 members, 2 SCSO responded. Big Sandy Reservoir. Page for boat sinking in Big Sandy Reservoir, adults and children onboard. SCSO Morgan took Zodiak boat to scene, SAR members Linn and G. Wilson responding. SAR stood down as SCSO deputies reported all members of boat had safely gotten to shore; no assistance needed. Boat was missing the plug before launching into water. Beach goers with jet skis assisted getting all persons to shore safely.

Mission 23-32-23

Sept. 3-12, 4 members responded, 30G activated. Assisting outside agency Fremont County, Steamboat Lake area. Assistance requested for search for missing 76-year-old man from family camp. 30G assisted on 5 days with heli manager, inserting and extracting searchers daily due to remote location on the Reservation and in the wilderness. Two TTSAR members spent the day assisting with ground search of the area. No clues found; search suspended as of Sept. 12.

Mission 23-33-23

Sept. 7, 12:07 a.m., 6 members responded. Fremont Crossing/Continental Divide Trail. Call received via Inreach that 67-year-old male in hiking party left camp to use bathroom and never returned. They had looked for 3.5 hours before calling for help. Satellite call received from hiking party at 14:15 that man had walked back into camp after being lost all morning.

Mission 23-34-23

Sept. 11, 01:00 a.m., 5 members responded. 30G activated. Island Lake. Call received from wife of husband and son who hiked to Island Lake. They reported son was suffering from altitude sickness and needed help getting out of the mountains. Once daylight, 30G and three SAR members flew to coordinates and assisted sick 17-year-old son and father into helicopter and flown to Pinedale Medical Clinic for evaluation.

Mission 23-35-23

Sept. 11, 07:30 a.m., 5 members responded. 30G activated. Three Forks Park, Upper Green.

Inreach SOS received for sick 48-year-old male suffering possible HAPE, unable to walk the remaining 7 miles to the trailhead. Male party found and assisted to helicopter; oxygen used for patient breathing comfort. Male flown to Pinedale Medical Clinic for evaluation, then emergent ambulance transfer to Jackson for treatment for HAPE.

Mission 23-36-23

Sept. 16, 14:00 p.m., 5 members responded. 30G activated. Lower Titcomb Lake. Inreach SOS received for sick 23-year-old male suffering from possible HACE, MD on scene requesting immediate evacuation. Male found to be weak, headache. Oxygen placed on patient and assisted to helicopter for further evaluation at Pinedale Medical Clinic. 

Mission 23-37-23

Sept. 19, 04:00 a.m., 7 members responded. Middle Piney/on top of Deer Hill. Activated to assist EMS/SO/FIRE with vehicle rollover down steep hill, injured 11-year-old boy laid for 12 hours 30 yards below hill. Rangers and litter equipment brought to scene. Youth was immobilized and placed in litter basket for mechanical raise using FIRE capstan winch. Six rescuers used to walk alongside litter to assist in raise. Air Idaho landed on scene for transport of male to Idaho. Follow report: no fractures, suffered pulmonary contusions – placed on oxygen at home until healed.

Mission 23-38-23

Sept. 19, 19:45 p.m., 8 members responded. Sweeney Creek. 29-year-old male hunter called 911 stating lost, no provisions for shelter or food, phone about dead. ATV team activated and responded from Spring Creek Trail parking lot. Several downed logs en route, ultimately finishing pursuit on foot. Male found to have fire going to stay warm, dressed in sneakers and sweatpants. Male brought to trailhead where Sgt. Streeter drove male to Elkhart Park to his vehicle. Stated he has gotten lost between Miller Lake and Sweeney Lakes.

Mission 23-39-23

Sept. 24, 15:00 p.m., 9 members responded. Jack Creek Divide. 30G activated. 911 call received as girlfriend and mother concerned after receiving cryptic messages from male hunter, then no communications with him after. Forensic ping request to Garmin showed last locations. Teams sent on ATVs above Flying A and deputy sent to North Fisherman Creek to location of vehicle and horse trailer. Male ultimately rode to truck, unaware emergency response had been activated. He denied having any issues. All members called off search.

Mission 23-40-23

Sept. 26, 11:30 a.m., 2 members responded. Sweeney Creek Trail. Horse wreck reported up Sweeney Creek Trail, RP “thinks” ambulance can drive there. SR26 overheard radio traffic and asked Sgt. Murphy if SAR Ranger could be of assistance. SR 26 & 33 took Ranger and drove Sgt. Murphy to the scene. Assisted EMS who had been driven to scene by 23-19 in patrol truck. SAR assisted landing Air Idaho on scene for flight to Idaho Falls for female with facial injuries, possible neck/head injuries.

Mission 23-41-23

Sept. 30, 14:00 p.m., 6 members responded. Pole Creek Lakes. 911 call of 19-year-old male reporting he was lost and didn’t have provisions for weather or overnight stay. SAR Incident Command was able to talk with male and get him back on Pole Creek Trail walking back to trailhead, while 2 SAR members walked from Elkhart Park to Mary’s Lake to meet male and walk back with him. He was taking pictures and wandered too far; unable to self-evacuate.