Released by: Deputy Jeff Winters
Assistant SAR Coordinator
Occurred: 08/7/2017 at 3:40 p.m.
Location: South Sister Climber’s Trail
Rider: 66 year old male
On 08/07/2017 at about 3:40 p.m., Deschutes County 911 received a call reporting a male subject had fallen while descending the summit of South Sister and sustained injuries that rendered him unable to continue his descent under his own power.
The subject was later identified as 66 year old Steve Bachelder from Portland.
Bachelder was reported to be on the climber’s trail between the false summit lake and the true summit.
The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue unit was notified immediately. A total of 13 volunteers and one Deputy responded to the call.
A hasty team of two DCSO SAR members with Advanced Life Saving training were taken by an AirLink helicopter and dropped off several hundred meters from Bachelder, while 11 additional members started hiking in from the Devils Lake trail head packing a wheeled litter and additional rescue gear.
Upon reaching Bachelder and assessing his injuries and mobility, the hasty team determined that an air ambulance would be needed to safely extricate him from the mountain. However, the area where Bachelder was located proved impossible to land a helicopter.
Lightning was seen in the area and the hasty team decided moving Bachelder down to a lower elevation would need to be accomplished as soon as possible and they wouldn’t be able to wait for the litter team to arrive.
With the help of fellow climbers on scene, the hasty team moved Bachelder down to the false summit lake and requested AirLink respond to evaluate that area as a suitable landing zone.
When AirLink arrived in the area, the false summit proved insufficient for landing and they diverted to a landing zone about one mile away and 1500′ lower in elevation.
At about 9:00 p.m., the litter team met up with the hasty team at the false summit. Bachelder was packaged into the litter and the SAR team began moving him down the trail to the waiting AirLink helicopter.
At 11:45 p.m., the SAR teams reported they had reached the AirLink Helicopter and passed Bachelder’s care off to the flight medics. Bachelder was flown via AirLink to St. Charles Medical Center in Bend for treatment.
The DCSO SAR members then hiked out to the trail head and returned to Bend, arriving back to their headquarters at about 2:30 a.m.