Lone Whitney hiker was scheduled to summit Whitney and be in Lone Pine for dinner 8PM. We were called the next evening, we also found out he was carrying a Spot device and somebody had accessed his account finding that he had subscribed to the tracking feature it was on and he had not pressed any buttons over the last 2 days. His device showed him 1/3 way down an almost 2000′ vertical face of the Keeler needle. High winds and snow were reported by several other hikers who had to turn back and saw no sign of our missing person.
His position showed to be stationary for over 12 hours and just prior to that seem to wander in circles. He had not carried climbing gear so we feared the worst and assembled a hasty team to climb to the base of the needle and do a quick assessment then Summit via Mountaineers route and descend to the top of the needle. No air support was available due darkness and not expected for the following day due to wind predictions.
Thankfully we received a call he had just walked out, cold, tired but OK.
Followup interview he said he could not press any buttons as unit had frozen solid during the storm and then he forgot about it. Team members were still not sure why people monitoring tracking feature did not pick up as he descended during the last 4 hours. Our team once again reminded to know exactly where\who the intel is coming from. GPS positioning was fairly close as he spent the night in the eye of Keeler needle and the vertical face is probably only 100′ horizontal between the top and the bottom. So once again technology had mixed blessings.