ridgeline of Mount Williamson in California
Mount Williamson; photo credit: Jesse Wagstaff

Hikers Find Human Skeleton in Sierra Nevadas

Tyler Hofer and his hiking partner had planned to summit California’s Mount Williamson that afternoon — not to discover a body.

On October 7, two climbers happened to venture off-route during their ascent of Mount Williamson, a 14,374-foot peak in California’s eastern Sierras. As they were heading up the mountain, they caught a glimpse of a skull in a boulder field. A human skull.

They decided to investigate and discovered a full set of human remains buried beneath some boulders. The hikers also found remnants of shoes and a belt.

“It wasn’t in a position of distress or curled up,” Hofer told the Associated Press. “It was definitely a burial because it was very strategically covered with rocks.” The skeleton apparently lay face up with its arms crossed.

The discovery of the remains led to a full investigation by the Inyo County Sheriff’s Department, who successfully airlifted out the skeleton. They plan to run a DNA test for identification.

“This is a huge mystery to us,” said Carma Roper, the Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman. This week, the Inyo County Sheriff’s Office released information on the mystery remains. So far, they haven’t found any possible matches in missing persons or search-and-rescue records.

According to the county sheriff’s office, the body — possibly a climber or a hiker — could have been there for decades.

Mary Murphy

Mary Murphy is the Managing Editor of GearJunkie and serves as the leader of Lola Digital Media’s DEI Committee.

She has been writing about hiking, running, climbing, camping, skiing, and more for seven years, and has been on staff at GearJunkie since 2019. Prior to that, Mary wrote for 5280 Magazine in Denver while working as an outdoor instructor teaching climbing, kayaking, paddleboarding, and mountain biking at Avid4Adventure. Based in Denver, Colorado, Murphy is an avid hiker, runner, backpacker, skier, yogi, and pack-paddleboarder.