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Avalanche Rescue on Mt. Whitney

Author(s): Tyler Karow
Video Release Date: November 12, 2020
Video Source: YouTube

This video was captured April 22, 2017. I was not very experienced at the time being that this was my second trip skiing in the backcountry and I had just taken my AIARI 1 course a few months prior. I was always hesitant to post this video becasue I believe we could have done a better job with the rescue and I didn’t want to get a bunch of flack on the internet. Regardless, I think this is some pretty interesting footage and a good learning lesson for those going out into the mountains.

The brief summary is that my buddy Matt and I were hiking up to ski the Mountaineers Couloir on Mt. Whitney. Less than an hour into the approach, a wet avalanche (mainly ice and dense snow) was naturally triggered by the sun around noon. We were directly in the path of the slide and ran for cover behind a huge boulder about 30 feet away from us. Two men in front of us were directly hit by the slide and one was missing after we came out behind the boulder. We found him partially buried under a refrigerator sized block of ice after a brief search. We dug him out, search and rescue came, and he got helicoptered out due to an ankle or leg injury. Matt and I continued up, camped around 12,000 ft, summitted the next day, and I skied the Couloir.

I wrote a full summary of the day back in 2017. It can be read here: Avalanche Rescue on Mt. Whitney – Google Docs

Article from 2017 that briefly discussed the avalanche can be found here: Two deaths, one on Mt. Whitney, in Sequoia-Kings National Park – Sierra Wave: Eastern Sierra NewsSierra Wave: Eastern Sierra News

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