Courtesy photo
Mineral County Search & Rescue volunteer Jeremy Williams is photographed by fellow volunteer Russell Blinco on the steep terrain of Boundary Peak. The group was on its way to reach a stranded hiker that was injured last Wednesday.

Mineral County Search & Rescue (SAR) made a successful rescue after a California man found himself stranded on the top of Boundary Peak in neighboring Esmeralda County.

SAR was called out on Wednesday, June 21 in the mid-afternoon after a 911 dispatch call to Esmeralda County was made informing the dispatcher that the California man was stranded near the peak of Boundary and had suffered injuries while hiking. He was accompanied by his dog but was hiking solo.

Esmeralda County has been using the Mineral County Search & Rescue team for a few years and through those experiences, a group of three SAR members have become quite familiar with the terrain and routes on the mountain.

Boundary Peak is the highest point in the state of Nevada at 13,147 feet. The extreme elevation changes can cause problems with hikers not acclimated to the area, causing altitude sickness. The terrain can be tricky due to the rugged terrain. The hiker was only a few hundred feet from the peak when he was rescued.

Able to pinpoint the hiker’s location, SAR was dispatched to the mountain to begin the long and grueling trek to find the injured man.

Knowing the amount of time that was needed to make it to the peak from the trailhead (and noting that night and a storm were coming fast) SAR member James Richards ingeniously snapped glow sticks and dropped them along the trail on the way up behind fellow members Jeremy Williams and Russell Blinco, to guide the rescuers out after dark.

A command post was set up on Boundary Peak to help communicate with the hikers while a member remained in Hawthorne trying to get the assistance of a helicopter to help bring down the injured.

The three hikers were able to reach the California man where they evaluated him for shock, assessed his injuries and helped to get his body temperature back up before making their way back down the mountain.

After securing the injury and finding a walking stick, the party made their way down the mountain – while waiting for air support.

Following the glow sticks, the party made it to a large opening where the aircraft could land safely, only to be informed by their member that the aircraft was still two hours away. It was decided by all involved that the aircraft would be cancelled and the party would continue to walk out.

The rescuers were able to deliver the man and his dog back to the safety of his vehicle without further injury.

Mineral County Vice President Dennis Bunch stated that he relies on “his men’s judgment while on the mountain.” Working on getting a flight to help out, Bunch was adamant that his men make the call as “I am not the one under stress or in the elements. If I can’t trust their judgment up on the mountain – then we shouldn’t be up there.”

SAR member James Richards explains, “Boundary Peak is much different than most mountains in our area. It is unforgiving and very challenging. The high altitude and rugged terrain makes it a dangerous hike even for experienced hikers and even more so at night.”

“Being part of such a great team that works together, we were able to some how get the injured hiker off the mountain with no further injuries to him or us,” Richards continued.

Joining Richards, Williams told the Independent-News, “Boundary is always a tough area for search. The SAR team is very efficient in the planning and the ascent of the mountain. Our overall goal is always to make sure all parties get off the mountain in a safe condition.”

Russell Blinco would describe the experience as, “Always a beautiful mountain to hike when searching for an injured or missing hiker, but it can also show you how fast it turns into a life or death situation.”

Richards would conclude, “I am very proud of our team and what we did that night. It’s a great feeling to be a part of such an amazing group and would like to congratulate all the SAR members for their hard work and effort.”

The injured was safely delivered to his personal vehicle and refused emergency services.

Mineral County Search & Rescue, under the direction of Sheriff Randy Adams, is comprised of over forty volunteers who assist in searches, rescues and recoveries everywhere from Walker Lake to the top of Boundary Peak. They are also the only Nevada search and rescue organization that is authorized to assist in the closing of roads and highways.

The volunteer group meets the first Thursday of each month in the Mineral County District Court chambers.