A climbing guide has died after falling more than 300 meters down a California mountain in dangerously icy conditions following a late winter storm, authorities said Tuesday.
Jillian Elizabeth Webster, 32, was one of five people who fell while climbing Mount Shasta Monday morning, the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release.
Webster, of Redmond, Oregon, was attached to two other people when they lost their footing and slid between 1,500 and 2,500 feet in an area known as “Avalanche Gulch,” the statement said. The fall was reported at 8:35 a.m.
A nurse climbing nearby administered CPR to Webster, who was unresponsive, the sheriff’s office said. She was later pronounced dead at a local hospital.
One of the climbers attached to Webster suffered head trauma and a fractured leg, the sheriff’s office said. The other climber also had a broken leg.
In two separate incidents at 12:31 p.m. and 4 p.m., two other climbers also fell about 1,000 feet down the mountain. Both were airlifted to a local hospital, where their conditions were not immediately available.
The sheriff’s office said Monday that two of the climbers injured in the three incidents were in critical condition.
A sixth person who fell Tuesday suffered a leg injury with possible broken bones and was also airlifted to a local hospital, a spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office said. The person’s condition was not immediately clear.
It was unclear which climbing team Webster was affiliated with.
Tim Keating, who has climbed Mount Shasta 450 times and founded a mountain guide company in 1981, said Webster’s group was likely following the standard route on a peak popular with climbers – a trip of two to three days that starts at just under 7,000 feet and eventually reaches the summit, at 14,179 feet.
Keating’s company was not involved in the trip and he did not know Webster. He said the recent snow had probably re-frozen, creating a layer of ice that can make the climb strenuous and dangerous.
“It can change the nature of the mountain,” he said. “Something that can be an 80-90% beginner grade is very dangerous the other 20% of the time.”
Keating said his company guided a group up the mountain over the weekend without incident, although they did not reach the summit due to 90 to 100 mph winds.
Siskiyou County Sheriff Jeremiah LaRue said Tuesday that while it was “peak time” for rock climbing, “people should stay away until we can better assess the weather and conditions up there”.