A missing French pilot was found dead last week after authorities said he fell 1,000 feet while hiking Mount Whitney in California’s Sequoia and Kings National Park.
Tom Gerbier, a French national from Fontenay-sous-Bois, France, and a pilot for Air France, had gone hiking early Tuesday morning from Whitney Portal, the gateway to Mt. Whitney, via the mountaineering route before her flight home the next day, the National Park Service said Friday.
“Gerbier was described as an experienced mountain climber and ultra runner, with the necessary equipment and ability to complete the planned route,” the Inyo County Sheriff’s Office said.
When Gerbier failed to show up for the flight Wednesday, he was reported missing.
COLORADO HIKER MISSING NEARLY 2 WEEKS IN ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK; SUSPENDED LARGE-SCALE RESEARCH
The sheriff’s office immediately began rescue operations by flying over Mount Whitney, but found no sign of the missing hiker.
Ground crews were deployed early Thursday morning and found evidence suggesting a hiker may have fallen off a cliff in the area known as “The Notch,” according to rescuers.
The sheriff’s office described the area as where “the climbers’ route meets the steep and exposed north face of Mount Whitney,” adding that the terrain is “precarious.”
An NPS helicopter then flew over the area and spotted a “motionless” hiker wearing clothing matching Gerbier’s description, the agency said.
It appears Gerbier fell approximately 1,000 feet, the NPS said. His body was recovered by helicopter and transferred to the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office, where his identity was confirmed.
MAN WHO SURVIVED GRIZZLY ATTACK BRINGS A MESSAGE FOR THE BEAST AFTER OPERATION GIVES HIM A NEW FACE
Air France told the San Francisco Chronicle in a statement that it “regrets to confirm the accidental death of one of its pilots, which occurred on October 20, 2023 while on a stopover in Los Angeles (California). Sincere condolences to his family and loved ones.”
Mount Whitney is the tallest mountain in the contiguous United States, rising to 14,505 feet.
The sheriff’s office offered its condolences to Gerbier’s loved ones and cautioned that the climbers’ route on Mount Whitney is a technical climb that requires high mountaineering skills and equipment.
“This is not an increase and has resulted in several deaths in recent years,” the sheriff’s office said. “Remember, no matter how skilled and prepared you are, accidents can happen to anyone.”
CLICK TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP
Gerbier is the second death reported in Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks this year, officials said.