An avalanche on the approach to the Mountaineer’s Route on the east side of Mount Whitney in Inyo National Forest injured a male hiker and required an aerial rescue. The avalanche occurred on a 45-degree slope at about 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 22, at 9,300 feet elevation.
The avalanche victim, identified as Sung Kim, 64, of Fullerton, was airlifted to Southern Inyo Hospital for treatment.
“Due to historic snowfall in the Sierra, we want to remind outdoor enthusiasts that the risk of avalanches is greater than in past years,” said an Inyo County Sheriff’s deputy. “Additionally, the high snowpack requires experience and technical skills.”
The avalanche occurred about 1.3 miles from the Whitney Portal trailhead. The cause was determined to be warming rock and melting snow due to warm daytime temperatures. The avalanche, which was 100 feet in width and 500 feet in length with large ice boulders, partially buried several people and caused minor injuries. Kim, who required helicopter evacuation, reportedly suffered a broken leg.