Updated: Aug 24, 2022
The call we got: 6/11/22 the phone rang around sunset, a male with a Land Rover drove over a snow drift on Laurel Lakes trail and he needs a winch out. He is here visiting with his significant other and they are celebrating their anniversary.
Coordinates: Unavailable, he says the vehicle is hanging off the edge and is obvious. He sends us photos and it is obvious, we know exactly where he is.
The plan: Get up there in the morning of 6/12/22 and check it out while the snow is as cold and firm as possible. Pack all of our equipment, every winch extension, land anchor, come-along and shackle we have.
ALEX'S WORDS: Welp… I’d have to say this was the most difficult recovery yet. Lack of anchor points, no room for error, getting over mental blocks (I’m terrified of this trail). But we made it happen.
Met at the trail head with my good buddy Tim at 9am. Made it to the switchback quickly. Had Tim drive my pickup up one of the switchback because I couldn’t get myself to turn the truck back on lol
This trail has a history of death and destruction that I am very aware of. Makes me nervous every time we have to go up there.
We finally made it to the vehicle, got the pickup turned around and started rigging up our plan. This recovery took a lot of thought process and communication prior to rigging. I don’t like to let the #goodideafairy take over, but we needed to take it slow.
The anchor moved as expected so we used an additional 150ft anchor to the pull pal.
We also used a come along to anchor the B pillar because I was nervous that the two winch points would act like a rotisserie and put the vehicle on it’s side. Everything was connected with @masterpull soft shackles and van beest hard shackles @factor55 sheaves, and hitchlinks.
For all the people butt hurt about me being in the byte (photo below) sometimes you have to do what ya have to do. This was the best way to calmly communicate directions and control both winches at the same time.
You need to remember that the driver is extremely nervous and can make a major mistake at anytime. I’m also hyper aware of our WLL and conditions of our equipment.
You did a great job driving out of that Ben! I’m thankful for everyone's hard work on this recovery. I’m most appreciative of the people who helped. From being able to call Nick @avalanchetechnical for backup and have him drop everything to drive three hours to us, to having my buddies Tim and Adam immediately reach out for assistance. We are truly humbled and blessed to know you guys #FROSTED ☃️🪢
JENA'S WORDS: I learned a lot on this recovery, a lot about anchor points and a
lot about my husband and his limits. I witnessed Alex get pushed to his breaking point, only his friends could talk him out of this one, not me. I was also nervous,
not sure if we should even take this call because we saw the customer's photos and it
looked like the SUV was going to blow off the mountain overnight.
We both want to help everyone that
calls us, we feel like we know the terrain and have the equipment needed for any circumstance but sometimes that pressure can weigh a ton because we aren't the ones that decided to cross a snow drift in spring or drive up a shelf road past all the turn outs.
Alex planned this one out the night before after talking with the customer, he dreamt about a successful recovery and then backed out 3 or 4 times the next morning. After talking out his game plan with the customer he looked ready and then backed out 2 more times on the way to meet at the trailhead. This trail is serious, it has had wash outs every year, the shale is barely held onto the switchbacks. Sometimes as you drive over the scree field and it the flakes off the edge and pieces flip end over end down to the bottom. If you aren't afraid of heights at all, maybe it's no big deal but to us it is.
The customer had tried several things the day before the recovery that made the recovery much more difficult. With good intentions, passerby's offered to winch him and did not use a redirected winch point like Alex always does, so the SUV started to slide further down the shale wall. That's about when the customer of ours called us.
There are probably thousands of lakes in the Eastern Sierra, some you can drive to and some you hike to. This one should be hiked to, unless you have a side by side, dirt bike, buggy, or you wait until the end of summer, when all the snow drifts have melted and there isn't much rain to wash out the trail. Last year (2021) the heavy rainfall from the Spring washed out the beginning of the trail, causing half a dozen or so trucks to get stuck on the "easy" part of the trail. This year, 2022, we barely had any snow and the lakes were still inaccessible by 4X4 until about May or June because of this snow drift and there were still a half dozen rock slides.
If you do go up to Laurel Lakes in your daily driver or similar, please prepare, bring your recovery equipment, watch for turn outs, pay attention and stay safe! Please don't shovel a path through the snow drift unless you really know where the trail is. You can always just park and hike from one of those turn outs you paid attention to, it's not that far to the lakes.
If you are interested in beefing up your recovery gear kit, check out these items we sell through our online store. We used every single one of these on this Laurel Lakes recovery: