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#53410 - 06/11/18 05:43 PM Mt Whitney multiple injuries on 6/10/18
Ellen S Offline

Registered: 06/11/18
Posts: 2
Loc: CA, USA
My daughter and I left Whitney portal at 2:45 a m on June 10, 2018. Arrived at trail camp at about 7 a m. Started up chute and were considering turning back when four people slid down at over 30 mph completely out of control. They fell over 1,000 vertical feet. Screaming, bouncing, did not stop til bottom snow pack. Head injuries, broken bones, hypothermia, among injuries. Helicopters took between 5 and 8 hours. Worst accident I’ve ever witnessed. Please please do not let summit fever cloud your judgement on this stretch of the whitney trail. If anyone has an update of these climbers please post.

#53418 - 06/12/18 06:51 AM Re: Mt Whitney multiple injuries on 6/10/18 [Re: Ellen S]
SierraNevada Offline

Registered: 09/05/11
Posts: 1130
Loc: NorCal
I hope they are okay. The only positive side of these sad stories is that it provides a chance for others to learn from their mistakes. Here's a thread on this forum dedicated to Mountaineering Safety on steep snow/ice slopes:

Links: Safe Mountaineering

#53421 - 06/12/18 08:43 AM Re: Mt Whitney multiple injuries on 6/10/18 [Re: Ellen S]
Twee Offline

Registered: 06/11/18
Posts: 10
Loc: San Diego, CA
Hi Ellen, when you were there, does the switchbacks look like it is melting or anything close to being open by the end of the week?
After hearing this I am really nervous about the chute
Hope you had a good trip and glad you guys returned safely

#53428 - 06/12/18 11:40 AM Re: Mt Whitney multiple injuries on 6/10/18 [Re: Twee]
Maverick Offline

Registered: 02/11/13
Posts: 93
Loc: CA
Inyo SAR:
At approximately 9:30am on Sunday, June 10th Inyo County Search and Rescue was notified of an accident involving three victims above Mt. Whitney’s Trail Camp. One hiker had slipped while ascending the snow-filled ‘Chute’, a hazardous short-cut often used in the spring when the normal trail is under snow, tumbling an estimated 500’, hitting the second and third victims during her fall.

Eleven team members responded and were moving towards Lone Pine by 10:30am. The team was met by CHP helicopter H-82, which had flown by the accident scene and located the patients. Due to flying conditions and the high elevation of the site the helicopter could only fly one SAR member at a time. The first team member reached the scene shortly after noon with the second and third following shortly after. The remaining team members stayed down in Lone Pine to provide incident command, communication management, and a ground team if necessary.

One victim was able to get out on his own. The other two had moderate to major injuries including major head and facial trauma and pelvic and spine injuries; they were roughly 150’ apart, on a 30º snow slope. Other hikers, whose aid was essential to the operation, had stabilized the patient’s positions, preventing further sliding down the slope. SAR members, with the aid of the other hikers, were able to treat both patients and package them for transport. CHP H-82 was able to effect a hoist evacuation of each patient in extremely challenging flying conditions. Both patients were flown to Lone Pine and eventually other medical centers for further treatment.

Inyo SAR would like to thank the hikers who gave up or changed their hiking plans to assist these seriously injured patients, as well as the crew of CHP - Inland Division Air Operations.

For those considering an early season Mt. Whitney hike: plenty of snow remains on the trail and snow travel should not be considered without carrying an ice axe, crampons, and formal training in their proper use. If you slip you likely will not have a chance to stop your fall.

Edited by Maverick (06/12/18 11:43 AM)

#53429 - 06/12/18 11:44 AM Re: Mt Whitney multiple injuries on 6/10/18 [Re: SierraNevada]
wbtravis Offline

Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1251
Loc: Corner of Jack Benny and Roche...
Unfortunately, the accidents are the same, only the names change. I have had 6 people slide by me out of control. All were doing things they should not have been doing. This why people continue to die in the same popular spots year after year in SoCal. I told a group of 4 two Aprils ago, not hike on a trail because it was too dangerous for Microjunk and poles at a spot where I had just decided it was too dangerous to climb. A few second later one fell and luckily latched onto a rock or he would have been the 5th person to die that winter in SoCal and the 2nd one on this section of trail.

If you are on that Chute and people are above you in your line of travel...tell them to move or you move, I tell people that all the time...and I am not subtle. You should assume most people on this chute don't have a clue. Lastly, go mid-week when there are not a lot people here.

Edited by wbtravis (06/12/18 11:45 AM)

#53444 - 06/12/18 10:10 PM Re: Mt Whitney multiple injuries on 6/10/18 [Re: Twee]
Ellen S Offline

Registered: 06/11/18
Posts: 2
Loc: CA, USA
Hi Twee
In response to your question about the switchbacks, I can only tell you that on June 10th the switchbacks were completely snow covered. Conditions up there change almost daily so keep checking more recent posts. For me, the chute is just too risky and other climbers above you may cause injury to others. Very risky. Better to wait for Terra firma. Hope that helps. Hike safe.

#53445 - 06/12/18 11:00 PM Re: Mt Whitney multiple injuries on 6/10/18 [Re: Maverick]
Steve C Offline

Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7527
Loc: Fresno, CA
Maverick posted the text above from the Inyo County Sheriff's Office post on facebook.

Here are two pictures provided by Inyo SAR (click to enlarge)

You can see the cables section of the switchbacks in the upper right corner.

#53448 - 06/13/18 08:15 AM Re: Mt Whitney multiple injuries on 6/10/18 [Re: Twee]
wbtravis Offline

Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1251
Loc: Corner of Jack Benny and Roche...

There is nothing special about this Chute. It is very similar to Baldy Bowl and has all of the same problems. It is a straight forward poilet march or French step to the top. What complicates this climb is people who don't know what they don't know, the sheer volume of people and fatigue...six miles is a long way to go with 25 lbs. on you back if you are a day hiker and 12 miles before you descend this slope. I have done this in mid-May in a year like this year when there were no more the 6 to 8 people on the Chute both up and down. 3 of them did not have the brains they were born with...glissading and climbing with and glissading with poles.

This accident sounds like people were too close together and in the one another's line of travel. If you have proper separation an accident like this does not occur.