Hiker killed, two others injured in California mountain avalanche

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(BIG PINE, Calif.) — A summer avalanche took the life of a hiker and injured two others in California, investigators said.

The unidentified hiking party encountered a wet slide avalanche while descending Split Mountain on July 2 around 4:30 p.m., the Inyo County Sheriff’s Office announced Friday.

The hikers had reached the summit of the mountain, located above Red Lake, near Big Pine, California, earlier in the day, according to investigators.

None of the hikers were buried in the avalanche; however, it was strong enough to sweep the party onto rocky terrain, the Eastern Sierra Avalanche Center said in a statement. All three were hurt and one of the hiker’s wounds were fatal, according to the avalanche center.

The survivors called for help and the Inyo County Sheriff’s Office deployed teams, according to officials. The rescuers ascended 2,000 feet to extract the survivors but conditions forced them to wait another day before retrieving the body of the deceased member, according to the sheriff’s office.

The incident marked the second avalanche-related fatality in the Sierra in the last month.

The avalanche center warned that current weather conditions make avalanches more likely to happen even in the summer months.

“Loose, unconsolidated snow on the surface and the lack of a refreeze overnight mean that wet loose avalanches may be very easy to initiate, and arresting a fall in steep terrain may be very difficult,” the avalanche center said in a statement.

The avalanche center also warned hikers to be careful about objective hazards in the Sierra Mountains.

“Snow bridges are melting out and may be prone to fail under your weight and creeks continue to flow at very high levels making some difficult if not impossible to cross,” it said.

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