(Photo/Courtesy of Siskiyou County Sheriff's Office)

Guide Killed, 4 Climbers Injured in 1,000-Foot Falls on Shasta

Separate incidents killed a climbing guide and injured 4 other climbers on Northern California’s Mount Shasta on Monday. All required airlifts; two injured climbers were the guide’s clients.

Siskiyou County officials confirmed today that the climber killed Monday on Mount Shasta (14,179 feet) was Jillian Elizabeth Webster, age 32, an Oregon-based mountain guide. Hours later, the same department responded to two more separate rescue calls related to another climbing party.

According to the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office, Webster was ascending the peak via the Avalanche Gulch route, roped in series with two clients, which the department described as “a younger couple.” Officials said one of them slipped, and then all three fell 1,500-2,500 vertical feet and eventually came to rest above Helen Lake.

The sheriff’s office said a nearby climber, who also happened to be a nurse, administered CPR to Webster while search and rescue operators responded. When they arrived, they found the male climber injured with an open fracture and head trauma. They found the female alert and aware, suffering from a lower leg fracture.

Webster did not respond to treatment administered on site, and doctors pronounced her dead on arrival to Mercy Medical Center in Mt. Shasta.

The department reported both surviving climbers were “under observation and recovering” as of 11 a.m. PDT today.

Second and Third Incidents

At 12:31 p.m. PDT Monday, the sheriff’s office got another call. This time, the call pertained to a male climber in critical condition, also located above Helen Lake.

The department said he could still walk when rangers located him, despite taking a 1,000-foot fall. As they assisted him down the mountain, though, it became clear he couldn’t make it all the way and another helicopter evacuation ensued.

His recovery status, the sheriff’s office reported today, is unknown.

The department received its final rescue call of the day at 4 p.m. At that time, deputies reported another climber in critical condition. According to Siskiyou Public Information Officer Courtney Kreider, the previous injured climber’s party had decided to descend the mountain at some point, but another one of their party slipped and fell in the process.

Authorities airlifted the injured climber to Mercy Mt. Shasta with facial injuries after a 1,000-foot fall. The sheriff’s office also reported her condition as unknown today.

Mount Shasta Safety Recommendations

As the surviving climbers undergo treatment for their injuries, the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office recommends other climbers stay off Mount Shasta. Warmer weather at the start of the week followed weekend storms, resulting in slicker conditions than usual on the peak.

“The sheriff’s office is recommending people don’t try to summit within the next couple days,” Kreider said. “While it’s normal for us to get rescue calls this time of year, [3] is an unusually high number within 12 hours. We’re urging everyone to wait to go up the mountain until the ice thins back to wet snow, and climbers can get better traction.”

The department also said it received word that one of the groups was not using suitable equipment for the route. The 7,000-foot Avalanche Gulch requires technical ice gear including crampons, ice axes, and a helmet, according to the Mount Shasta Avalanche Center. The group calls the route “steep and rigorous.”

“We were told that several climbers in one of the groups didn’t have proper climbing boots,” Kreider said. “Having solid gear for your objective is something anyone would recommend, but definitely was an issue yesterday.”

Several agencies assisted in rescue efforts including Siskiyou County Search and Rescue (SAR), United States Forest Service (USFS) Climbing Rangers, California Highway Patrol (CHP) Air Operations H-14 Crew, Mount Shasta Ambulance, and the Mount Shasta City Fire Department.

All four surviving climbers are currently recovering from their injuries, per the department. The Mount Shasta Avalanche Center listed extensive recommendations for climbers and ski mountaineers in the area, where capricious shoulder season conditions prevail.

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Sam Anderson
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Sam Anderson is a staff writer at GearJunkie, and several other All Gear websites.

He has been writing about climbing, cycling, running, wildlife, outdoor policy, the outdoor industry, vehicles, and more for 2 years. Prior to GearJunkie, he owned and operated his own business before freelancing at GearHungry. Based in Austin, Texas, Anderson loves to climb, boulder, road bike, trail run, and frequent local watering holes (of both varieties).