Two men stranded near Mt. Whitney in five feet of snow had to be rescued Sunday, Nov. 24, after one got hit by two avalanches and the other also could not make it down to safety without help.
On Sunday, Nov. 24, at about 10:40 a.m., the Inyo County Sheriff's Department received a telephone call regarding a stranded hiker near Upper Boy Scout Lake (located at the base of Mt. Whitney), according to Inyo County sheriff officials.
According to the reporting party, Pamela McKeown, her husband, James McKeown, 54, Wildomar, Calif., called her that morning to let her know he was neck deep in snow and could not get down the mountain, according to a news release. Pamela said James had woken up Friday morning, Nov. 22, and had to dig his way out of his tent because he had about five feet of snow on the tent.
Pamela said that James did not have any food, water, warm clothing, or shelter due to James leaving all of his gear behind in an attempt to get off the mountain, the news release states. James had been on his way to meet his friend David Webb, who was ahead of McKeown at Iceberg Lake, but never met up with Webb.
At about 1:20 p.m., on Sunday, CHP helicopter H-40 located James McKeown. H-40 was able to rescue James and transport him to Southern Inyo Hospital to be treated for frostbite, hypothermia, dehydration, and exhaustion.
Inyo County Sheriff’s Office also received further information that Webb may be in trouble.
At about 1:40 p.m., H-40 located Webb and transported him to Southern Inyo Hospital for treatment of frostbite and exhaustion.
A further interview indicated that Webb went to Iceberg Lake. After the snowstorm hit, Webb said he decide to climb down the mountain to get back to his vehicle.
As Webb was walking down, he was hit by an avalanche and buried up to his neck. Webb said he lost all of his supplies in the avalanche, the news release states.
Once Webb was able to dig himself out, he got hit by another avalanche.
Webb said he was about to give up when H-40 found him, according to the news release.