One mountaineer died in an apparent fall and his partner was rescued by helicopter in the High Sierra of central California, near the border of Kings Canyon National Park and the John Muir Wilderness.
The Inyo County Sheriff’s Office reported on social media Thursday that its search and rescue team received a call about a possible fatality on June 25 and another man who was on the north face of University Peak near Kearsarge Pass out of Independence.
Deputies said the two mountaineers were climbing University Peak when one decided conditions were too dangerous. He waited in place while his partner kept going toward the 13,589-foot summit.
When the man did not return, his partner started looking for him and eventually found that the man had sustained a fall over ice and rock. He did not reach his partner, but believed he did not survive due to the distance and terrain over which he fell., deputies said.
He then descended the mountain in order to get cell service and called 911.
The sheriff’s office rescue team did not search for them because of darkness, but prepared to search the next day. Ten volunteer team members drove to Lone Pine Airport to meet with the California Highway Patrol helicopter and conducted an initial search from the air.
Thirty minutes into the search, they located the body off-route in Class V rock terrain, almost 1,000 feet below the point he was last seen. CHP took two team members to the location and hoisted them down onto a ledge within proximity to the man. Team members built an anchor for their own safety before hoisting out the body to the Onion Valley Trailhead.
The other mountaineer was rescued. His condition was not known.
“Our sincere condolences go out to the family and friends of the deceased,” the Inyo County Sheriff’s Office said.
“Remember, we are still far away from summer conditions. While we don’t know exactly what (led) to the fall, we can only urge people to be very cautious while enjoying their adventures in the mountains.”
University Peak is located just east of the Pacific Crest Trail, the 2,600-mile hiking trail that runs from the U.S.-Mexico border to Canada that takes backpackers through backcountry of the Sierra Nevada in California.
Same area where hiker went missing in 2019
In March 2019, a U.S. Marine was reported missing in the same area.
for nearly a week in the backcountry of Kings Canyon National Park. Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks reported then that has been missing.
A 24-year-old from Washington, Connecticut, 1st Lt. Matthew Kraft had planned to hike the 195-mile Sierra High Route, the park service reported at the time. Kraft was thought to have hiked out of Kearsarge Pass on Feb. 24 with the plan of eventually ending his route near the Twin Lakes area near Bridgeport on March 4 or 5.
He has not been found.