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#53101 - 05/12/18 02:35 PM Re: Hiker fell on Whitney [Re: tntorr]
Ejolaes10 Offline


Registered: 05/10/18
Posts: 2
Loc: California
It guilts me that I didn't held on to it long enough til Portal.

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#53102 - 05/12/18 02:50 PM Re: Hiker fell on Whitney [Re: tdschmel]
KL0688 Offline


Registered: 05/11/18
Posts: 3
Loc: Ca USA
Hi Taylor,

I've been quietly monitoring this board for activity and have private messaged some people involved here.

My family and I were becoming close friends with the hiker that lost his life. We were neighbors that would spend a couple days of the week together watching TV or gathering for dinner.

He was with a male and female friends that hiked him to the base on May 5th. He proceeded up alone because the other 2 knew that it was beyond their skillset, they proceeded back down and waited for him at the portal.

I believe he was wearing a brown camouflage winter jacket, obviously two blue ice axes in hand.

I wanted to remain quiet but decided recently that time will eventually pass to where anybody that saw him at the top or may have spoke with him up there will forget the details.

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#53104 - 05/12/18 11:02 PM Re: Hiker fell on Whitney [Re: KL0688]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7479
Loc: Fresno, CA
> I wanted to remain quiet but decided recently that time will eventually pass to where anybody that saw him at the top or may have spoke with him up there will forget the details.

KL0688, I am really sorry you lost a friend. I think you are right to reach out to contact anyone who might have crossed paths with him. Unfortunately, private-messages are often missed on this forum. I can directly email people if you contact me.

In addition, it would be a service to the hiking community if anyone who has more information could share, so that hikers could learn from the accident. I, for one, would like to see the picture that Ejolaes10 took of the location, to get a better idea of what happened.

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#53106 - 05/13/18 09:03 AM Re: Hiker fell on Whitney [Re: Steve C]
KL0688 Offline


Registered: 05/11/18
Posts: 3
Loc: Ca USA
Thank you Steve, I will reach out if the need arises.

In regards to Ejolaes photo. He has shared it with me privately and it is the same area as you have posted before, here is a direct link to your previous photo ( https://photos.smugmug.com/Other/Whitney/i-3kfFGpV/0/O/WhitWalkoff.jpg)

I don't want to post Ejolaes' photo without his permission, and partly because I believe you can see the hiker's ice axes in the picture. It feels like it may be morbid for those people that are close with the hiker. Tame to the general population, but kind of despairing to family and friends. For that reason, I will not be posting it.

Steve, I would be willing to share the photo with you privately and perhaps you can use your vast library to post your own of the same location.


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#53108 - 05/13/18 12:28 PM Re: Hiker fell on Whitney [Re: KL0688]
JakeP Offline


Registered: 05/13/18
Posts: 2
Loc: Arizona
It seems weird to me that I can't find info about this accident anywhere outside of this forum.

I'm going to have a go at the MR on the next week and I'd like to learn more in a respectful and sensitive way from an official source.

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#53109 - 05/13/18 12:48 PM Re: Hiker fell on Whitney [Re: JakeP]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7479
Loc: Fresno, CA
Originally Posted By: JakeP
It seems weird to me that I can't find info about this accident anywhere outside of this forum.

I'm going to have a go at the MR on the next week and I'd like to learn more in a respectful and sensitive way from an official source.

JakeP, this one is sure being kept quiet. It wouldn't have shown up here without tntorr's post asking about it -- and nobody except the rescuing people and the family would have ever known. The SeKi public information person had been out on vacation, returned on Wednesday when I called, and she had to look into it then. She called me back, and confirmed the recovery. She was considering making a public release, but wanted to issue some safety advice along with it. I don't think that ever occurred. You might try calling (559-565-3131 or 565-3341), and ask if there is any more information available. (If you get anything, please report here.)

I have received news releases in the past that don't appear on the SEKI News Releases website.

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#53110 - 05/13/18 12:54 PM Re: Hiker fell on Whitney [Re: KL0688]
Granny Smith Offline


Registered: 06/13/17
Posts: 11
Loc: California
First off, this is tragic news, and my heart goes out to the victims family and friends.

Second, I was in a group of four that attempted to summit via the mountaineers route on Friday morning, May 4th. We opted to turn around while on our final ascent for a variety of reasons, and started making our way back down to the portal around 11am. We passed one single climber at Iceberg Lake, who was going to summit via the East Buttress on the 5th. Shortly after that, we came across a group of six climbers near upper Boy Scout lake. Finally, we passed two groups of three climbers near the Ebersbacher ledges. We shared trail reports with everyone, what we had seen or heard from folks we met who were exiting the mountain on the 3rd (day we arrived).

I am not sure if your friend was in these groups, but it hits home when you know we are all in it together and want to see everyone have a safe experience on this mountain.

Best wishes during these tough times.

- Nick

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#53114 - 05/13/18 09:22 PM Re: Hiker fell on Whitney [Re: tntorr]
erich Offline


Registered: 05/13/18
Posts: 1
Loc: california
I summited the mountaineers route sat, you can see below the notch where he slipped and fell, his skid marks in the snow go down a few hundred meters until they hit rocks. I have video of that shows this

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#53116 - 05/14/18 06:39 AM Re: Hiker fell on Whitney [Re: erich]
Hobbes Offline


Registered: 03/28/14
Posts: 124
Loc: The OC
My friend and I summitted via the MMWT a little after noon on May 5. (See my trail conditions report here: http://www.whitneyzone.com/wz/ubbthreads.php/topics/4904/1)

We were there for maybe a few minutes before two climbers came over from the MR. (The other 8-10 people had all come up the main trail.) I distinctly remember discussing the conditions with them, having previously done a guided trip up the MR in alpine conditions with ropes, etc. When we descended the final 400, it was literally like going down a ladder ie facing the snow and kick stepping down.

The pair I spoke to had just brought along their ice axes (ie no rope, carabiners, belay gear, etc), and while the ascent up the final 400 was ok, they had decided to descend via the walk-off. Where it gets eerie is I distinctly recall mentioning that the walk-off can become treacherously slippery if it is wet or snowy/icy. Their response was that they had seen boot tracks, so they figured someone had already made it through ok.

I've been thinking about this event for the last few days, and my conclusion based on the comments is while the climber wasn't from their party (I think they were just a duo - by the description the last climbers that day), I 'm pretty sure the boot tracks they saw were the fallen hiker's. They may also have been the hikers that spotted the accident site/body and notified SAR.

Bob West posted an opinion here http://www.whitneyzone.com/wz/ubbthreads.php/ubb/showflat/Number/53080/gonew/1/Ice_Axes_and_Crampons that touches on some aspects of if/when it's OK to get involved in someone else's business. I don't want to sound like a nag, and even my casual comments about the walk-off (and raised eyebrow at the lack of rope) could be perceived as interference, and yet, you find out later that "things do happen" and wonder if/how they can be prevented/managed.


Edited by Hobbes (05/14/18 06:45 AM)

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#53117 - 05/14/18 09:08 AM Re: Hiker fell on Whitney [Re: KL0688]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7479
Loc: Fresno, CA
This picture repeated from above:


KL0688 shared some more information on the situation. The hiker who fell went up the Mt Whitney Main Trail, and camped with his two companions near Consultation Lake. Saturday morning, they continued up almost to Trail Crest, and parted at that point, with the two heading back down the main trail.

He continued on up to the summit. Then he proceeded down via the Mountaineers Route, taking the "Easy Walk-off" traverse from the summit slope eastward toward "The Notch". There is a satellite image showing the two routes on the Whitney summit here. The accident occurred just left of the point where the "Final 400" red line meets the purple "Easy Walk-off" line.

He slipped or tripped, losing both ice axes in the process, where the traverse path needs to descend 5 or 10 feet to clear a bare granite "nose". In the picture above, it is horizontally just below center, and a little left of center. In the current conditions, the granite below that point is completely covered with ice/snow. Without any ice axe, there is no way he could stop the slide. Other hikers using the "Final 400" route reported it was extremely icy, so it took them a long time to descend, even using ropes.

So sad.

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#53118 - 05/14/18 09:29 AM Re: Hiker fell on Whitney [Re: Steve C]
Hobbes Offline


Registered: 03/28/14
Posts: 124
Loc: The OC
Now this is getting really eerie. When my hiking partner and I were resting @ Outpost on Friday 5/4, a group of 3 guys hiked by on their way to make camp higher up. One of them was carrying a blow-up doll as a stand-in for a 4th friend who had sprained an ankle and couldn't make it. They were laughing how they were going to use an IG tag #mikemadeit. We never saw/heard about them again - you'd think someone on the trail would see/remark about a life sized doll.

When we reached Trail camp late Friday afternoon, there was only one other couple camped there. Since we took the winter route following the Consultation drainage, we had considered staying by the (completely frozen) lake. We ended up declining because we didn't want to melt snow (we had sufficient fuel but still looking for an out) and were hoping the pond had some melt water (which it did). That being said, we didn't see any tents by Consultation until we walked out Sunday am, but the one tent was probably a late Saturday arrival.

We got a (purposely) late start around 8am Sat 5/5, since we were also going to be spending a 2nd night @ TC, and didn't feel like we needed to jam just to get back before 4-5pm.

We never saw this trio on the way up the Chute, and I don't recall passing anyone coming back from the summit except for one other person near the needles. Now I'm wondering if it was these we had spoken to @ OP. It would make sense if the two who turned around @ Crest came back before we began, leaving their friend to continue.

From what is being gathered here, I'm pretty sure the boot tracks the two MR climbers saw that I spoke to were the fallen hiker's.


Edited by Hobbes (05/14/18 09:46 AM)

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#53119 - 05/14/18 09:45 AM Re: Hiker fell on Whitney [Re: Hobbes]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7479
Loc: Fresno, CA
Hobbes, the party of three included a woman. At 8:20 AM (gps track point), they were on the trail between Consultation and Trail Camp, elev. ~11,900. They parted near there.

So you climbed to Trail Crest ahead of the lone hiker, but you would have crossed paths with him either at the summit, or on your way back. (you wrote, "except for one other person near the needles". Did you happen to get a picture of the summit register?

Anyone coming up the traverse route from the Notch would have definitely spoken about the two ice axes lying on the snow -- they were right by the traverse route. They might have descended behind the fallen hiker, as his fall likely occurred Saturday around noon.

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#53120 - 05/14/18 09:56 AM Re: Hiker fell on Whitney [Re: Steve C]
Hobbes Offline


Registered: 03/28/14
Posts: 124
Loc: The OC
No, we didn't sign the register. We passed only one hiker on the way back from the summit as our bubble proceeded forward.

At the risk of rote speculation, I now think I know who the fallen hiker was. If it's the person I think it is, he started the Chute with me and BlueWater. If you go back to the conditions report (http://www.whitneyzone.com/wz/ubbthreads.php/topics/53051), you can see him in the photos. He had two ice axes, and he was using them to climb the Chute like an ice waterfall ie holding the handles and swinging the pick axe heads into the snow.

We both remarked he had a heavy coat, no backpack and no noticeable means of carrying water. (Look at BW's remarks here: http://www.highsierratopix.com/community/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=18106&start=10 If it's him, he's in 3 or 4 photos). I thought he had turned around at the Crest, but BW said he had carried on to the peak. We never passed him on the way back, and we never saw him again.


Edited by Hobbes (05/14/18 10:01 AM)

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#53121 - 05/14/18 10:25 AM Re: Hiker fell on Whitney [Re: Hobbes]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7479
Loc: Fresno, CA
Hobbes, it sounds like this hiker in all these pictures. Right?










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#53130 - 05/14/18 03:05 PM Re: Hiker fell on Whitney [Re: Steve C]
bluewater Offline


Registered: 05/02/12
Posts: 12
Loc: Ca
Yes, I remember that person. He was wearing a brown down jacket, black pants, black glasses (prescription with clear lenses/not sun glasses) and two ice axes. I spoke with him a few times on the way up, and I saw him on the summit. As I arrived he was heading down, but I didn't ask (and he didn't say) which way he was going to descend. He definitely had two ice axes (as Hobbes already said). He is the person in the first four photos in the post above here. He said that he had camped at Consultation Lake the night before with two other people but that they did not go for the summit.

The person in the fifth photo was another person, named Kyle. He had also separated from his group. We talked at the summit for a while. He said that his buddies (I think there were two other guys in his group) had reached the summit before him. I remember him asking if he could descend with some of the other people who were on the summit and had talked about taking the trail route down. I saw that couple later but I did not see Kyle again.

I'm going through photos now to check for any others of him. I have the high res originals.

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#53140 - 05/15/18 01:50 PM Re: Hiker fell on Whitney [Re: bluewater]
Maverick Offline


Registered: 02/11/13
Posts: 90
Loc: CA

SEKI will be releasing something soon, there is another incident that will be combined with this one, which is what's causing the delay.

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#53143 - 05/15/18 04:03 PM Re: Hiker fell on Whitney [Re: tntorr]
Maverick Offline


Registered: 02/11/13
Posts: 90
Loc: CA
SEKI NP:
Quote:
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks News Release

For Immediate Release                         Reference Number: 8550-1815
Contact: Sintia Kawasaki-Yee, Public Affairs Officer
Phone Number: 559-565-3131
E-mail: sintia_kawasaki-yee@nps.gov

          Two Fatalities in Sequoia National Park

SEQUOIA AND KINGS CANYON NATIONAL PARKS, Calif. May 15, 2018 - Two fatalities occurred in Sequoia National Park, less than ten days apart, one on Mount Whitney and one on the Watchtower section of the Lakes Trail in Lodgepole.

On Saturday, May 5 a party of two reported that during their descent of Mount Whitney, they had found two ice axes and what appeared to be a blood trail leading to a body about 1,500 to 2,000 feet below the ice axes. That same day two other people called the park to report that their friend had not returned from a solo summit attempt via the Mountaineers Route.

The next day rangers recovered the body and transported it to Ash Mountain Helibase where it was turned over to the Tulare County Coroner’s office. The body was later identified as Eric Juliani, 29 years of age from New Jersey, the person reported overdue by his two friends the day prior.

Conditions along the Mountaineers Route are still snow covered and icy, and will remain so for an undetermined length of time. Some written descriptions of the route note at least one area that holds “water ice” and poses significant risks to climbers attempting to pass it. Specialized equipment such as ice axes and crampons, and experience and training in using them, are generally deemed necessary to safely traverse this route at this time of year.

The second fatality was reported on Sunday, May 13. The park was notified of a hiker that had fallen from the Watchtower section of the Lakes Trail. Anton Dokov, 29 years of age from San Diego, slipped on the ice and snow, and slid over a cliff. Rangers responded that same day, but dangerous ice and snow conditions with a very steep slope, meant they had to turn around. The next day park rangers were able to find the body, but were unable to retrieve it due to the complexity and technical aspects of the recovery. On Tuesday, May 15 the body was recovered and transported to the Ash Mountain Helibase, where it will be turned over to the Tulare County Coroner’s office.

Mr. Dokov was hiking the Lakes Trail towards Pear Lake at the time of the fall. Hikers are cautioned that winter conditions still exist at higher elevations, and extreme caution is necessary.

“Although we’re getting warmer weather in the valley, conditions at higher elevations are still very cold with snow and ice. Even the most experienced hikers with the best gear can encounter challenges in these conditions,” said Chris Trotter, U.S. Park Ranger.


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#53152 - 05/16/18 11:23 AM Re: Hiker fell on Whitney [Re: Maverick]
jchapell Offline


Registered: 03/23/16
Posts: 11
Loc: Colorado
I wonder if one of the early posts could be edited to include the news Release and pertinent details so that future readers/hikers could learn/learn from the important details (like Steve's Post 53117) without digging through all the inside baseball posts.

Facts: A hiker went up the main trail with friends, but eventually continued on after his friends turned around ~Trail Crest. He attempted to descend the Mountaineer's Route "Walk Off" Traverse, and near the Notch at the base of the Final 400 slipped/tripped and was unable to arrest his fall before a cliff.

Unkowns: His descent on the Mountaineer's Route may have been a mistake, intending instead to be on the Main Trail. It is unknown if conditions or a stumble (or combination) led to his slide and eventual fall, or how conditions or experience contributed to his inability to arrest. The area around the Walk-Off Notch can be steep, icy, and contain unconsolidated or hard packed snow, but other hikers did safely summit via the Mountaineer's Route through the notch the same day.

There are obviously reminders about route finding, route assessment, and appropriate skills/experience, but if there are any other insights on the route this time of the season, I'm certainly interested - heading up for a second time this weekend.
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