Summer missions heat up for Tip Top SAR


Tip Top SAR courtesy photos.

Volunteers called out across region from July 11 to Aug.

SUBLETTE COUNTY – The numbers of recreationalists needing assistance from Tip Top Search and Rescue increased significantly by the end of July and through the first week of August.

Tip Top SAR volunteers were kept busy helping the lost, the injured and the sick in Sublette County and the surrounding areas.

In July, Tip Top undertook 11 active missions – nine were calls for Sublette County’s leased helicopter assistance, one was for a short-haul rescue and four were AOA (Assist Outside Agencies).

During the first five days of August, Tip Top responded to four rescue missions in four days, all requiring helicopter assistance.


Rescue Mission #09

July 11, 2022, 5:00 p.m.

Tip Top SAR was called to the Upper Green to assist a kayaker who had been in an accident and lost sight of his fellow paddler floating ahead of him on the Green River. The first kayaker (the reporting party or RP) received a ride to their intended takeout point, but the partner hadn’t reached that point either. It had been several hours and the RP was worried for the second man’s safety. Two Sublette County Sheriff’s Office employees were in the area and located the second kayaker near the takeout. He had also capsized, which delayed his float. Both men were reunited and able to retrieve the majority of their gear.

Rescue Mission #10

July 12, 2022, 2:00 p.m.

Tip Top SAR was called to assist Fremont County SAR with two individuals that were cliffed-out in the Grasshopper Creek Drainage, south of Bears Tooth Peak. These individuals called for assistance using a Garmin Inreach device. Tip Top SAR flew the helicopter to the area with three members and located the stranded climbers. Two SAR members were able to exit the helicopter, rig up above the climbers and perform a tandem rappel each to bring both climbers down to the creek level. All parties involved were flown to the Lander Airport, where the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office arranged transportation to the climbers’ vehicle. Tip Top SAR returned to Pinedale without incident.

Rescue Mission #11

July 16, 2022, 6:30 p.m.

Tip Top SAR was called to assist Fremont County with a medical emergency near Honeymoon Lake in the Fitzpatrick Wilderness Area. A male hiker was in distress and needed evacuated to the nearest ambulance. Arrangements were made to locate the man and bring him to Dubois Airport. Darkness was quickly approaching when Tip Top SAR members located the hiking party in rough, timbered terrain with no landing areas nearby. The team utilized their short-haul techniques to insert a SAR member at the end of the static line through the trees, attach a screamer suit to the sick man and lift them both vertically until clear of the trees. The team landed and loaded everyone in the helicopter for transport to Dubois. The team made effective quick decisions and performed flawlessly within the tight timeframe of needing to return to Pinedale before sunset.

Rescue Mission #12

July 21, 2022, 10:30 a.m.

Tip Top SAR was activated to assist a female who was bucked off a horse on Grouse Mountain, near Halfmoon Lake. SCSO Dispatch received the call via cell phone. SAR members and SCSO staff were able to locate the rider with the help of Halfmoon Lake Lodge wranglers. The female was assessed, and a plan was set in place to extricate the female via the SAR utility terrain vehicle (UTV) to a waiting ambulance at the Sweeney Creek/ Halfmoon overlook. The woman was initially treated at the Pinedale Medical Clinic, and then taken to Idaho for further care.

Rescue Mission #13

July 28, 2022, 8:45 a.m.

Tip Top SAR was alerted of an injured male who suffered injuries during a fall while trying to summit Gannett Peak. A second party located the male and assisted him back to his tent west of Minor Glacier. The injured man’s brother was also at the tent with his own injuries sustained from a separate attempt of the summit. The Good Samaritan walked all night to the Green River Lakes trailhead where he was able to call for help, giving the coordinates of the camp location. Both men were located at the coordinates given, one suffering from injuries to his shoulder and ankle, and the other suffering from a knee injury. Both men were flown in the SAR-leased helicopter to the Pinedale Medical Clinic for evaluation and treatment.

Search Mission #14

July 29, 2022, 12:05 p.m.

Tip Top SAR received a request for assistance with our leased helicopter by Teton County SAR. They were in the process of searching for two missing horseback riders in the Teton Wilderness north of Turpin Meadows. Before the team headed north, Tip Top was advised the two had been located. No response was needed.

Rescue Mission #15

July 30, 2022, 11:30 a.m.

Tip Top SAR was activated to rescue an injured female in the Lost Lake area of the Wind River Mountains. Sublette County Dispatch received information that a personal locating beacon (PLB) had alerted the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center (AFRCC) of an emergency. Arriving in the helicopter, Tip Top SAR members located the female, who had suffered a lower leg/ankle injury while hiking. The fracture was stabilized and splinted, and then the female was assisted to the helicopter for transport to the Pinedale Medical Clinic for treatment.

Rescue Mission #16

July 30, 2022 4:30 p.m.

Tip Top SAR was called into action for a female hiker with a possible fractured leg near Skull Lake. She was part of larger party hiking in the Wind River Range that contacted their camp director via Garmin Inreach. The female was located at the coordinates via the leased helicopter. Tip Top SAR members administered first aid and stabilized the injury. The female was assisted to the helicopter and flown to the Pinedale Medical Clinic.

Rescue Mission #17

Aug. 1, 2022 9:00 a.m.

Tip Top SAR assisted Fremont County with extricating a male hiker who was suffering from altitude sickness. He was unable to continue out on his own. The male was located at the coordinates given, near Camp Lake. Fremont County Sheriff’s Office requested the male be flown to the Lander Airport for evaluation and treatment at the Lander Hospital. SAR members assisted the man into the leased SAR helicopter and flew directly to Lander.

Rescue Mission #18

Aug. 2, 2022, 9:00 a.m.

Sublette County Dispatch was alerted of a 19-year-old near Peak Lake sending an emergency beacon alert with a Garmin Inreach. He had an ankle injury and was unable to walk out on his own. The alert was sent from a Garmin Inreach rented from the Great Outdoor Shop. Coordination with the Great Outdoor Shop allowed Tip Top SAR to receive the actual messages sent through the electronic device and see the injured person’s actual location. A separate hiking party that came across the injured hiker sent the message but had continued on its journey, leaving the young man alone at the coordinates until SAR could respond. The male was located without difficulty and flown to Pinedale Medical Clinic.

Search Mission #19

Aug. 4, 2022, 8:00 a.m.

In the evening hours of Aug. 3, Tip Top SAR learned that a male had become separated from his party after climbing Gannett Peak. He had ended up on Dinwoody Glacier, near the east end of Gooseneck Pinnacle. The rest of the party hiked down Bonny Pass to their base camp in the Titcomb Basin. The party claimed the male was disoriented and they feared for his safety. Due to darkness and the fact the male was actually in Fremont County, Tip Top SAR waited until the morning of Aug. 4 to coordinate with Fremont County to fly into the area and locate the male hiker.

The Tip Top SAR crew and helicopter were unable to locate any person in the area of Gooseneck Pinnacle or Dinwoody Glacier. Upon flying up and down Bonny Pass, they located a solo hiker matching the description our missing man, who appeared to be in good health and not indicating any help was needed. Unable to land, SAR took a photo from the air, landed down at the base camp and showed the picture to the party at camp. They confirmed this was the man they were worried about. One of the members was going to walk up to meet him on Bonny Pass and walk back with him. SAR felt he was in good hands and returned to Pinedale. Contact was made with Tip Top SAR in the afternoon, stating the man had made it back to camp and was good to hike out of the mountains with his group.

Rescue Mission #20

Aug. 4, 2022, 1:00 p.m.

Tip Top SAR was alerted of a horseback rider suffering from a possible heart attack. Coordination with Sublette EMS allowed a paramedic to accompany the SAR team to the location near Lower Sweeney Lake via the SAR-leased helicopter. The team found the male in better condition than reported. The man agreed to be flown to the Pinedale Medical Clinic for evaluation.

What a great team response and coordination, knowing that from the initial call to arrival at the clinic took only 54 minutes. That rarely happens in the backcountry of Sublette County.

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