A party of 4 had planned on summitting Mt Whiney, “car-to-car” in a day. W/in sight of the summit hut, one member of the party displayed symptoms of AMS. It was decided that the remaining three would summit and she would wait for them…or head down (back to Whitney Portal) if she got cold or felt worse. Since the summit was so “close” this seemed like an acceptable option. After summitting, the remaining 3 arrived at the last known position of their friend. They assumed right away that she had decided to descend ahead of them, like discussed. The remaining 3 descended all the way to Whitney Portal w/o seeing her. She was also not at their car, or anywhere in the area of the trailhead (TH). INYO SAR was called at that point.
The call out came in during an evening training session at the Posse Hut. One member was able to respond, so preceded to gear up, as China Lake Mtn Rescue Group (CLMR) was called in to assist, and attempts were made to contact the Crabtree Rabger station in SEKI. INYO SAR member arrived at TH around 11pm and was advised to wait until CLMR arrived do to inexperience on that particular trail. 4 members from CLMR arrived at aprox 1am and the teams left the TH soon after. A hasty team of two carrying O2 and Medical supplies and warm clothing and sleeping gear found the patient at trail camp (12,000 ft). She had taken the wrong trail down from the ridge that leads to Whitney, electing to go west into SEKI instead of east to trailcamp and Whitney Portal. She made it to Guitar lake before she realized her error and decided to turn around and head east. She hiked into the night until the cold and exhaustion forced her into another party’s tent.
The hasty team assessed the PT and rested for almost an hour before meeting the support team on the trail and hiked out together in the AM.