Search and Rescue UPDATE
At noon Tuesday Dongying “Cindy” Qiu was located deceased at the base of a frozen waterfall near Outpost Camp. It is believed that she fell approximately 60 feet through a snow chute at the top of the waterfall (located on the southwest side of Outpost Camp, about a quarter mile off trail).
“This is an incredibly tragic situation and based on the extreme snow conditions in the backcountry, this could have happened to anyone,” stated Inyo County Sheriff’s Corporal Nick Vaughn. “The entire search crew and the Sheriff’s Office extend their most sincere condolences to the Qiu family and friends during this very difficult time.”
This was the second day of searching for the missing hiker. Support for today’s search was provided by Sierra Madre SAR, San Bernardino SAR, China Lake Mountain Rescue Mountain Rescue Group, Inyo SAR and aerial support provided by Army National Guard and CHP H-80.
Inyo County Search and Rescue (SAR) is on its second day of searching for missing hiker Dongying “Cindy” Qiu, a 27 year old woman from San Marino, CA. Cindy was part of a three-person hiking group that set out to hike Mt. Whitney on Sunday May 21st at 2:00am.
After reaching Trail Crest (~13,700’ elevation) at approximately 1:00pm, she decided to head back to the trailhead at Whitney Portal alone. The original report indicated that the other two members of the hiking group went on to ascend Mt. Whitney, but later interviews revealed that one member of the hiking group (a female) turned around earlier in the hike before reaching Trail Crest.
The male hiking companion did go on to ascend Mt. Whitney by himself, and when he returned to Whitney Portal around midnight, he was unable to locate Cindy. Inyo County Sheriff’s Dispatch was notified at approximately 9:00am on Monday May 22 of the missing hiker.
Following a lead from other hikers who believed they saw Cindy (descending the trail alone on Sunday late afternoon), Inyo County Search and Rescue and CHP H-80 out of Apple Valley began a search of the area between Trail Camp and Outpost Camp yesterday. A backpack matching the description of Cindy’s was located near Outpost Camp late yesterday afternoon. This morning additional teams are actively searching the area. Support for today’s search is provided by Sierra Madre SAR, San Bernardino SAR, China Lake Mountain Rescue Mountain Rescue Group, Inyo SAR and aerial support provided by Army National Guard and CHP H-80.
If anyone has any information that may assist in this search please contact Sheriff’s Dispatch as 760-878-0383.