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Officials warn for hikers in California after three tragic deaths


The Inyo County Sheriff’s Office has issued a stark warning about the dangers of hiking in early spring, following the deaths of three hikers on Mount Whitney.

This warning comes after a particularly tragic week in which two hikers, 28-year-old Andrew Niziol and 29-year-old Patty Bolan, were found deceased on the north side of the mountain. A third hiker, whose name has not been released, also died from injuries suffered by a falling rock on the North Fork of Lone Pine Creek Trail.

These incidents demonstrate the dangerous conditions that can prevail at California’s highest peak, especially during early spring. The Sheriff’s Office highlighted the presence of “treacherous steep snow, loose rocks and variable weather,” which can make the mountain particularly dangerous this time of year.

The Bureau wrote on Facebook: “Early spring conditions prevail on the mountain, with treacherous steep snow, loose rocks and changeable weather.”

“Parties venturing to Mount Whitney must stick together, turn around before deteriorating conditions spiral out of control, make responsible decisions and be prepared and fit.”

Niziol and Bolan were experienced hikers embarking on a challenging “experts only” trail in Sequoia National Park when they tragically died. They were separated from their friend Ethan Michael Cannaert during their descent, illustrating the ease with which even prepared hikers can find themselves in danger.

The Inyo County Sheriff’s Office, along with Inyo County Search and Rescue and support from the California Highway Patrol Central Division Air Operations Group, responded to these tragic events. Since then, they have emphasized the importance of hikers making responsible decisions, sticking together and being adequately prepared and fit for Mount Whitney’s demanding conditions.