Update: Missing Mt. Whitney hiker found deceased

Search and Rescue UPDATE

At noon Tuesday Dongying “Cindy” Qiu was located deceased at the base of a frozen waterfall near Outpost Camp. It is believed that she fell approximately 60 feet through a snow chute at the top of the waterfall (located on the southwest side of Outpost Camp, about a quarter mile off trail).

“This is an incredibly tragic situation and based on the extreme snow conditions in the backcountry, this could have happened to anyone,” stated Inyo County Sheriff’s Corporal Nick Vaughn. “The entire search crew and the Sheriff’s Office extend their most sincere condolences to the Qiu family and friends during this very difficult time.”

This was the second day of searching for the missing hiker. Support for today’s search was provided by Sierra Madre SAR, San Bernardino SAR, China Lake Mountain Rescue Mountain Rescue Group, Inyo SAR and aerial support provided by Army National Guard and CHP H-80.

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Press release

Inyo County Search and Rescue (SAR) is on its second day of searching for missing hiker Dongying “Cindy” Qiu, a 27 year old woman from San Marino, CA. Cindy was part of a three-person hiking group that set out to hike Mt. Whitney on Sunday May 21st at 2:00am.

After reaching Trail Crest (~13,700’ elevation) at approximately 1:00pm, she decided to head back to the trailhead at Whitney Portal alone. The original report indicated that the other two members of the hiking group went on to ascend Mt. Whitney, but later interviews revealed that one member of the hiking group (a female) turned around earlier in the hike before reaching Trail Crest.

The male hiking companion did go on to ascend Mt. Whitney by himself, and when he returned to Whitney Portal around midnight, he was unable to locate Cindy. Inyo County Sheriff’s Dispatch was notified at approximately 9:00am on Monday May 22 of the missing hiker.

Picture taken May 21 at Trail CrestFollowing a lead from other hikers who believed they saw Cindy (descending the trail alone on Sunday late afternoon), Inyo County Search and Rescue and CHP H-80 out of Apple Valley began a search of the area between Trail Camp and Outpost Camp yesterday. A backpack matching the description of Cindy’s was located near Outpost Camp late yesterday afternoon. This morning additional teams are actively searching the area. Support for today’s search is provided by Sierra Madre SAR, San Bernardino SAR, China Lake Mountain Rescue Mountain Rescue Group, Inyo SAR and aerial support provided by Army National Guard and CHP H-80.

If anyone has any information that may assist in this search please contact Sheriff’s Dispatch as 760-878-0383.

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Rick O'Brien
Rick O'Brien
4 years ago

I suppose so,WD,but a little common sense goes a long way. And BTW, just because someone has a different zip code other than that of the Owens Valley, doesn’t make us any less capable in the back country (“Especially those from SoCal’).

Low-Inyo
Low-Inyo
4 years ago

Rick……EVERYONE that goes hiking,hunting,even fishing back country alone,they are actually putting themselves in harm’s way….especially those from SoCal and out of this area….but can’t put restrictions of what and how some choose to do it….this case,a little bit different than that,but still can’t penalize those that choose to do things their own way…

p ite
p ite
4 years ago

its not even summer and the body count is climbing, its a free world after all

Rick O'Brien
Rick O'Brien
4 years ago
Reply to  p ite

And every time somebody decides to go hiking without the proper preparations and gear, the un-paid volunteers of the Inyo Search and Rescue have to risk THEIR lives to come to the rescue.

TrailBeast
TrailBeast
4 years ago
Reply to  Rick O'Brien

It’s vastly more dangerous driving a motor vehicle to the trailhead compared to whatever can happen in the backcountry.

Rick O'Brien
Rick O'Brien
4 years ago

I don’t see any of the correct gear someone should have while attempting Whitney after the record snowfall. Only the most experienced should even be allowed past the Portal, until some of that snow is gone. Common sense is a thing of the past, I guess.

BobM
BobM
4 years ago
Reply to  Rick O'Brien

Tragic for sure. Although I don’t agree with Rick’s comment that only the most experienced should even be allowed to past the Portal. This could happen to absolutely anyone hiking alone experienced or not.

Rick O'Brien
Rick O'Brien
4 years ago
Reply to  BobM

I agree 100% Bob M…the key word being (alone). Just like they teach you in scuba training, you never leave your buddy.

sugarmags
sugarmags
4 years ago
Reply to  Rick O'Brien

Allowed? By who?

Rick O'Brien
Rick O'Brien
4 years ago
Reply to  sugarmags

Doesn’t the Park Service regulate the number of climbers ALLOWED on the mountain (every) day ?

TrailBeast
TrailBeast
4 years ago
Reply to  Rick O'Brien

Yes, they regulate the NUMBER of entrants into the Whitney Zone.

How would you propose the Forest Service determine who is qualified?