Inyo Search and Rescue recovers body of hiker from Mt. Whitney

By: 
Register Staff
Staff Writer

Inyo County Search and Rescue recovered the body of a 36-year-old Conroe, Texas, man Tuesday after he apparently slipped and fell during a day climb up Mt. Whitney, the Inyo County Sheriff’s Office reported Wednesday.
Saulo Sifuentes Escalante arrived at Whitney Portal on April 15 with intentions of hiking Mt. Whitney as a day climb. The Inyo County Sheriff’s Office received notification on Sunday that he was overdue.
Inyo County Search and Rescue responded and searched the area unsuccessfully Monday with the assistance of CHP Inland Air Operations helicopter H80.
Twelve Search and Rescue members on Tuesday were inserted by an Army Chinook helicopter, with teams distributed from the summit down to Mirror Lake. Kings Canyon National Park also was involved, since the search area included the west side of Mt. Whitney, which is in the park.
At approximately 11 a.m. on Tuesday Kings Canyon officials notified Inyo County Sheriff’s Office that they had obtained a search warrant to review cell phone data records and that had revealed a potential location for the subject.
A Chinook helicopter was dispatched to investigate the location and was able to locate the subject deceased south of the main Whitney trail at approximately 11,600 feet elevation in a steep, snowy, north-facing chute. The subject had apparently been ascending this chute when he slipped and fell.
The Chinook was able to move a team of rescuers to a landing zone 1,200 feet below the site. Rescuers were able to access the site via a steep snow climb, and were able to assist in the recovery of Escalante’s body late in the afternoon, by using a hoist into the Chinook.
Assisting agencies include Inyo Search and Rescue, Inyo Sheriff, China Lake Mountain Rescue Group and Kings Canyon National Park. Aerial assistance was provided by CHP, China Lake Naval Weapons Station, and Army National Guard.

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