Backcountry bulletin boards are abuzz over the second death on the Whitney Mountaineers Route in less than a month. In this case Patrick Wang, 27, was killed while attempting to glissade off the summit. He cartwheeled for 300 feet before falling a 1,000 foot cliff.
In the description:
Wang suggested the best way to head down would be to glissade, or use a controlled sliding technique in which the ice ax works as a break.
[Martin] Kozaczek went first. Being new to climbing, he struggled. He tried sliding feet first, on his stomach. Then on his rear. Then walking slowly, digging in his heels.
He slipped, sliding fast down the snow. He rolled onto his stomach and planted his ice axe. He stopped but had fallen at least 30 feet. Nervous, Kozaczek changed his tune and slid just 5 feet at a time, slow and steady.
Below, a climber on the way up reprimanded Kozaczek. If he slipped, the climber said, Kozaczek could have taken the man out. Kozaczek moved to the side of the chute to let the climber pass.
Just as he did, he heard the man yell: “Oh no! Oh no!”
Kozaczek heard his friend next. Wang was cursing as he slipped on his rear down the chute. He was going too fast. Just then, he flipped and tumbled, passing Kozaczek and the other climber. When Wang slammed into some rocks, his cursing stopped.
His fall didn’t.
Wang cartwheeled down the slope. A piece of his glasses struck the other climber. Kozaczek worried his friend would hit another field of rocks.
Then he was gone.