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Fall on Rock, Exposure, Weather, Inadequate Clothing, California, Mount Whitney

FALL ON ROCK, EXPOSURE, WEATHER, INADEQUATE CLOTHING

California, Mount Whitney

On September 6, 1991, Reeves Magi (40ish) and Douglas Siegfried (35ish) were attempting the East Buttress Route on Mount Whitney. At 1600 their calls for help were heard by other climbers at East Face Lake. One yelled that the other was hurt and hypothermic. Two climbers started up to help and one went out to initiate a rescue. China Lake Mountain Rescue Group was helicoptered in the next morning. The climbers from East Face Lake had been unable to reach the victims. As the rescue team was trying to reestablish voice contact, a body fell from the Buttress down into the Mountaineer’s Route. The weather had turned bad and it was very cold, with snow and hail. The rescue team found that Reeves was dead at the end of the third pitch and that Douglas had fallen to his death into the Mountaineer’s Route.

Analysis

Reeves and Douglas were not prepared for this climb and continued on in deteriorating weather. The face routes on Mount Whitney are very popular and are easily climbed by well equipped and well conditioned climbers, when conditions are good. However, an injury that would just be an inconvenience with good weather can be fatal if conditions change and become extreme. (Source: Art Green, China Lake Mountain Rescue Group Leader)