A climbing guide died after falling more than 1,000 feet down a California mountain in dangerously freezing conditions from a late winter storm, authorities said Tuesday.
Jillian Elizabeth Webster, 32, was one of five people who fell while climbing Mt. Shasta Monday morning, the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release.
Webster, of Redmond, Oregon, was tied 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 release said. The fall was reported at 8:35 a.m
A nurse who climbed 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 tied to Webster suffered head trauma and a fractured lower 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 flown to a local hospital, where their condition was not immediately available.
The sheriff’s office said Monday that two of the climbers injured in the three incidents are in critical condition.
A sixth person who fell Tuesday suffered a leg injury with possible fractures and was also flown to a local hospital, a sheriff’s office spokeswoman said. The condition of the person was not immediately clear.
Webster’s level of experience wasn’t immediately clear. It was also not clear which climbing outfit she belonged to.
Tim Keating, who scaled Mt. Shasta 450 times and founded a mountain guide company in 1981, said Webster’s group likely followed the standard route at a peak popular with mountaineers — a two- to three-day journey 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 has likely refrozen, creating a layer of ice that could make for an arduous, treacherous climb.
“It can change the nature of the mountain,” he said. “Something that can be a beginner’s slope 80 to 90 percent of the time is very dangerous the other 20 percent of the time.”
He added, “The general public goes up there and has no idea what they’re getting into.”
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’s “peak season” for climbing, “people need to stay away until we can better assess the weather and conditions up there.”