On Saturday Inyo County Search and Rescue volunteers were called out to help two young Marines stranded on a ledge high above the North Fork of Lone Pine Creek in the Mt. Whitney region.
Three Marines, straight out of boot camp, set out for a challenging hike on Saturday, up Carrillon Creek. On their way back down to Whitney Portal, the Marines took a different route down a 600 foot high cliff. The three had packs with food and water, but no rope.
After climbing down loose, mossy terrain that most rock climbers would avoid or at least use a rope to climb, the three decided that it was too dangerous to continue. One Marine climbed back out the way they had come and went for help at the Whitney Portal Store.
Doug Thompson, who runs the Whitney Portal Store, tried to help, but the young soldier was unfamiliar with the area and was not sure where his friends were stranded. After much hiking, Thompson was able to locate the Marines stranded on a ledge 300 feet, above the North Fork of Lone Pine Creek.
Inyo County Search and Rescue volunteers reached the two Marines after dark and told them to stay put until morning. Five volunteers started the rescue operation at first light Sunday. Using ropes and technical climbing gear, the rescuers climbed up to the victims over steep and loose terrain.
The Marines had rappelled in boot camp, so the easiest way to rescue them was to set the soldiers up to rappel themselves with a back up rope controlled by the Inyo SAR team members.
When they reached the ground, the young servicemen were a bit thirsty, but otherwise unhurt. All three said they were thankful for the help.