The Inyo County Sheriff’s Department reported via its Facebook page Monday that a body that had been reported on Mt. Whitney early last week had finally been recovered on Saturday. The department noted that high winds and snow deterred recovery efforts throughout much of the week.
According to the sheriff’s department, during the early afternoon of April 18, Inyo County Sheriff’s Dispatch received a report of a deceased body below the 99 switchbacks of the Mt. Whitney main trail.
Due to the time of day, Inyo County Search and Rescue planned a recovery for the following morning. However, by the morning of April 19, there were extreme high winds that would inhibit an aircraft to reach the subject’s location.
Inyo SAR and California Highway Patrol H80 decided to attempt the recovery at first light on April 20. They were able to fly over the subject’s location that morning, but due to high gusts of wind they were unable to land or hoist. Inyo SAR and CHP H80 then attempted to fly again that early afternoon. On second attempt, they were turned around before reaching the subject’s location.
High winds and snow deterred further attempts for the remainder of the week but on Saturday, April 23, with a clear weather window, CHP H80 was able to fly and insert two Inyo SAR members via hoist to retrieve the deceased subject.
Within the past 12 months, there have been four confirmed deaths of hikers attempting to summit Mt. Whitney. Many of these have been in spring or early summer due to falls on snow and ice, where the subject did not have or know how to use critical gear like crampons and an ice axe. It is imperative that you are prepared with the proper gear and know how to use it.