The third member of the party used a personal locator beacon to signal an emergency before calling 911 from his cellphone. The nearest rescue team was already assisting an unconscious hiker in another part of the park, so a team from Yosemite National Park was dispatched.
The woman was rescued from her perch on a ledge and initially taken to a hospital approximately 70 miles to the north, then flown to a medical center in Reno, where she underwent surgery. Before that, the rescue team was able to determine that the man died, per the NPS. His body was retrieved Tuesday and taken to a funeral home.
The man was said to have been a San Jose resident, while the woman is from the nearby city of Milpitas.
Mount Russell is located on the eastern edge of the park, a central California destination renowned for its towering trees. At an elevation of 14,094 feet, it is the seventh-highest peak in the state. Mount Whitney, the highest peak in the contiguous United States at 14,505 feet, sits approximately a mile to the south.
Eight days before the hiker’s death, a high-elevation search and rescue team located a Texas man who had been attempting to hike to the summit of Mount Whitney. The man was located several miles west of the mountain’s summit, per the park service, after having been reported missing two days previously.
“With large numbers of people heading into the wilderness this summer, we urgently remind everyone to prepare carefully for their trips and understand that there are real risks out there,” a Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks official said at the time.
The NPS said Tuesday that over the course of the three-day holiday weekend, it was called upon for eight search-and-rescue efforts. Forecasting an “extraordinarily busy summer” in its parks, the agency urged visitors to plan well and to understand that, in the case of an emergency, they might need to be self-sufficient.
“There is never any guarantee that rescuers will be able to reach you quickly,” said the NPS. “Understand your own limits, take care of the people in your party, and always be prepared to turn back.”