A Tribute to Larry Falce
Wednesday, January 3, 2018 at 10:03
Sonny Lawrence


Sonny LawrenceNorth Face, San JacintoMany of you may know of Larry’s long-term involvement with the San Bernardino Mountain Search and Rescue team as a sheriff coordinator. However, I doubt many of you know how tough and devoted he was as a volunteer on the team before becoming a deputy sheriff.

In the 1970s the Mountain team commonly performed very difficult trainings such as the rock climbing route on the East Face of Mount Whitney in a day. We also climbed various routes on the north side of Mount San Jacinto. This side of the mountain is unique in having the greatest vertical rise for horizontal travel of any mountain in the contiguous states. In one day, a climber begins at 1000 feet elevation and then ascends 9000 vertical feet. This is usually done in the late winter or early spring on a deep consolidated snow tongue.

One year the team decided to ascend the Daugherty route. This was originally opened by members of the Riverside Mountain Rescue Unit. The climb was going well for the Mountain team. We passed the large chock stone at 6000 feet. We found our way into the ravine that is the Daugherty route. It was quite different than the other ravines the team had previously climbed on the north face. Instead of solid snow, gravel and rock; we were in a green, wet, mossy canyon. Eight or ten of us were climbing on the canyon left wall. I was in the middle. Larry was ahead of me. We were about 40 feet off the bottom of the canyon. Suddenly I see Larry flying by me. He looked like Superman, arms outstretched, head first flying down canyon. The look on his face is burned into my memory. Amazingly he rotated in mid-air such that his feet were first. He landed in 6 inches of water and slapped both arms on a big rock. This landing resulted in two broken wrists. But he was otherwise unharmed. Incredible! Of course, that ended our climb. There was no cell phone nor radio coverage in those days. So, we distributed his pack among the other members, splinted his wrists, fed and watered him and began the very slow descend. He was continually on belay. He had to be assisted past the simplest of maneuvers. Larry kept a great attitude and persevered down the mountain. We made it off in the wee hours of the night. X-rays divulged the two fractures. Each wrist was placed in a cast. Larry maintained a great attitude over the next 6 weeks as the team mercilessly teased him about maintaining his personal hygiene with a cast on each arm!

Very few volunteers or paid professionals have contributed the time and energy to SAR that Larry has. He will be greatly missed.

Article originally appeared on SBSAR.ORG (http://sbsar.org/).
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