After over 24 hours of searching, a missing Chinese female hiker was found dead Tuesday noon at the base of a frozen waterfall on Mt. Whitney in eastern California, according to a report by the Inyo County Sheriff.
Dongying Qiu, 27-year-old, is believed to have fallen approximately 60 feet (18 meters) from the top of the waterfall through a snow chute. The waterfall is located on the southwest side of Outpost Camp, about a quarter mile (400 meters) 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 Inyo County Sheriff's Office extended their condolences to Qiu's family and friends at this difficult time, added Vaughn.
Qiu was part of a three-person hiking group that set out to hike Mt. Whitney on May 21. After reaching Trail Crest, she decided to head back to the trailhead at Whitney Portal alone. Qiu's companions could not locate her when they returned to Whitney Portal around midnight. The search and rescue started on Monday around 9 a.m. (16:00 GMT).
Mt. Whitney lies on the boundary of Sequoia National Park and Inyo National Forest and stands at 14,494 feet tall (4418 meeters). Easy accessibility makes it a prime destination for hikers and climbers.