Teen survives fall off Mount Tallac; second fall in 6 days
December 26, 2004
A 19-year-old man used his cell phone Sunday to call for help after slipping on ice and falling face first several feet down Mount Tallac.
Alex Honnold of Carmichael suffered face abrasions and a concussion from the fall, which happened at around 10:30 a.m. He was found at about 12:30 p.m. and flown to Washoe Medical Center in Reno.
The accident was six days after a fatal fall 600 feet down the same mountain by a 20-year-old Santa Cruz man.
Ian Carney was sliding down the face of the mountain with a friend when he lost control, hitting his head on a rock.
Sunday’s rescue near Cathedral Road, was within two miles of where Carney fell to his death. Carney’s body was found near Lilly Lake.
While snowshoeing alone, Honnold apparently lost his footing and fell. He was briefly unconscious before using his cell phone to call his mother. His mother then called the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Department.
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California Highway Patrol and CalStar helicopters were dispatched to look for Honnold. He was spotted by CalStar, and the CHP helicopter landed on the side of the mountain to pluck him to safety, said El Dorado County Sheriff’s Sgt. Larry Olsen.
Officials warn that the mountain is especially icy after several days of sunshine and warm temperatures. With snow expected through this week, it will make activities on Tallac especially dangerous and prone to avalanches.
“All of the backcountry slopes are extremely icy right now, making for very hazardous conditions,” Olsen said. “And when the snow expected, it could make for extreme avalanche danger.”
With more people doing winter backcountry activities, it’s important for users to tell people where they are going, which route they are taking and when they plan to return, Olsen said.
“This is so (search and rescue) will know from the start what route you’re on,” Olsen said.
It is also a good idea to carry a cell phone, although the signal can be sketchy. During Honnold’s rescue, the cell phone cut out several times while he was speaking with dispatch and Olsen.
Weather conditions during the time of the rescue were blustery, and it made it difficult for the helicopter pilots to find Honnold. Olsen suggests that people carry bright-colored material and a flare so they can be spotted.